The United Nations has mentioned an 18-year-old Saudi lady who fled her household is a reliable refugee and has requested Australia to resettle her, Canberra mentioned on Wednesday, because the Twitter-led marketing campaign to grant her asylum edged in the direction of decision.
Rahaf Mohammed al-Qunun was stopped by authorities at Bangkok’s principal airport as she arrived on a flight from Kuwait on the weekend after operating away from her household, who she says subjected her to bodily and psychological abuse.
Thailand initially mentioned it will deport her on the request of Saudi embassy officers, barring her from travelling on to Australia the place Qunun mentioned she had meant to say asylum.
However armed with a cellphone, she barricaded herself into an airside resort room and fought again — live-tweeting her fears of deportation in a marketing campaign that swiftly galvanised worldwide help and prompted a pointy U-turn by Thai officers.
Qunun is now within the care of the UN’s refugee company in Bangkok, which is processing her case.
“The UNHCR has referred Ms Rahaf Mohammed Al-Qunun to Australia for consideration for refugee resettlement,” Australia’s Division of Residence Affairs confirmed in an announcement.
The division mentioned it will “take into account this referral within the typical manner, because it does with all UNHCR referrals”.
Australian officers have strongly hinted that Qunun’s request shall be accepted.
“If she is discovered to be a refugee, then we’ll give very, very, very critical consideration to a humanitarian visa,” well being minister Greg Hunt had mentioned earlier than the UN dedication was public.
Tweet to victory
Qunun’s determined tweets ricocheted throughout social media with the #SaveRahaf hashtag drawing an outpouring of help but in addition the bile of some hardliners in her native nation.
She solely joined the social media website at first of this month however has rapidly racked up greater than 100,000 followers.
Phil Robertson of Human Rights Watch mentioned Qunun had renounced Islam, which places her at “critical danger” of prosecution in Saudi Arabia.
Her father and brother arrived in Bangkok on Tuesday, however Qunun “refused to see” them, in response to Thai immigration police chief Surachate Hakparn, who has been caught up within the worldwide firestorm since Qunun’s arrival.
The daddy met with the UNHCR on Wednesday morning and spoke with Surachate within the afternoon for an hour, the immigration head mentioned at a press convention.
He denied abusing or threatening her, and instructed Surachate that Qunun had “freedom”.
“He needs to take his daughter again residence, her mom fell sick after listening to her daughter ran away,” Surachate mentioned.
Qunun’s father instructed the UNHCR about his objections to her fleeing and would stay in Thailand till a choice was made, Surachate mentioned, including that this may come on Thursday.
A UNHCR consultant instructed AFP “the method continues to be ongoing”.
On Sunday Qunun instructed AFP her household was “abusive” and as soon as locked her in a room for six months only for slicing her hair.
Fleeing them whereas travelling in Kuwait throws her into battle with Saudi Arabia’s “guardianship” system, which permits male relations to make selections on behalf of feminine family, she mentioned.
That makes it “100 per cent” sure she can be killed by her household if she was returned to Saudi, she added.
Footage launched by Thai immigration exhibits Abdullah al-Shouaibi, Saudi embassy cost d’affaires in Bangkok, complaining in a gathering on Tuesday with Surachate that Qunun’s smartphone ought to have been confiscated.
“When she arrived, she open a brand new (Twitter) account and her followers grew to 45,000 in at some point,” he mentioned in Arabic.
“It could have been higher if they’d confiscated her cellular as a substitute of her passport.”
The Saudi embassy in Bangkok mentioned it “didn’t demand her deportation” and that the case was “a household affair”.
By Wednesday afternoon, Qunun had returned to posting updates on Twitter, promising to “broadcast constantly to guarantee” the general public of her situation.
“I’ve ready my energy and can proceed my journey to succeed in a protected nation,” she tweeted in Arabic.
“Do not let anybody break your wings, you are free,” she tweeted in English including, “combat and get your RIGHTS!”
Amnesty Worldwide’s Center East director of campaigns Samah Hadid mentioned Rahaf’s story “turned an inspiration to thousands and thousands worldwide”, however added that Thailand has typically “breached their duties” to asylum seekers and refugees.
“The humanity proven to Rahaf should not be a one-off,” mentioned Hadid.
Extremely-conservative Saudi Arabia has come below hearth because the homicide of journalist Jamal Khashoggi within the nation’s consulate in Istanbul final yr.