March 25, 2019

Runaway Saudi woman leaves for Canada

14 January 2019, 09:55 | Devin Moran

Immigration police via AP FILE

Immigration Bureau Saudi woman Rahaf Mohammed Alqunun foreground walks by Chief of Immigration Police Maj. Gen. Surachate Hakparn right before leaving the Suvarnabhumi Airport in Bangkok

Qunun alleges abuse by her family - who deny the allegations - and rights groups also said she had renounced Islam, risking prosecution in conservative Saudi Arabia.

Canada's Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland introduced the teenager as "a very fearless new Canadian" but said that Ms al-Qunun was exhausted from her ordeal and long journey and would not be making any public statement on Saturday.

"It was a pleasure for me this morning to welcome to her new home a very fearless new Canadian", Freeland said.

Alqunun gained global prominence when she fled her family last week while visiting Kuwait and flew to Bangkok, where she barricaded herself in an airport hotel and launched a Twitter campaign outlining allegations of abuse against her relatives.

Thailand is not a signatory to the 1951 UN Refugee Convention but sometimes allows the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) to take responsibility for "persons of concern", aimed at resettling them in third countries, says Human Rights First.

Qunun was initially denied entry to Thailand when she arrived at the Bangkok's Suvarnabhumi airport on January 5, intending to fly from there to Australia to seek asylum.

She then barricaded herself inside a hotel room, posting live updates on social media in which she said she feared for her life should she be forcibly returned to her family. It garnered enough public and diplomatic support to convince Thai officials to admit her temporarily under the protection of United Nations officials, who granted her refugee status on Wednesday.

"The UNHCR has referred Ms Rahaf Mohammed Al-Ms Qunun to Australia for consideration for refugee resettlement", Australia's Department of Home Affairs confirmed in a statement. Under the system, women must obtain permission from a male guardian - who could be their father, husband, brother or son - to travel, marry, and sometimes to work or access health care.

Australia's Foreign Minister Marise Payne, left, gestures as she answers a journalist's question in Bangkok, Thailand.

Qunun's swift use of Twitter saw her amass more than tens of thousands of followers within a week, highlighting her plight at a time when Saudi Arabia's human rights record is under heavy scrutiny following the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi a year ago.

"Canada has been unequivocal that we'll stand up for human rights and women's rights around the world", Trudeau told reporters.

Trudeau brushed off a question as to whether Canada's move might make it harder to fix ties with Saudi Arabia.

Ms Alqunun had planned to enter Australia on a tourist visa and seek asylum before she was detained last weekend.

"The safety of Ms Al-Qunun has always been the Australian Government's primary concern, and we have been working with the UNHCR and worldwide partners to ensure her claim is assessed appropriately", he said.

"It was a pleasure for me this morning to welcome her to her new home", Freeland said.

"Even in Canada, she'll need to be conscious of her security, but this is a real victory for women's rights", she said.

"Canada will always stand up for human rights, very much including women's rights".

"'s case was dealt with on a fast-track "emergency" basis in light of the urgency of her situation", said Grandi.

AlAraibi is now being detained in a Thai prison awaiting the outcome of extradition proceedings to Bahrain where he was previously convicted and is wanted by the authority.

Other News

Trending Now

Oakland A's to Meet With Kyler Murray to Discuss Entering NFL Draft
So even if Murray was the last pick in the first round, he actually would bank more guaranteed money than he now has with the A's. According to a report from ESPN's Jeff Passan, Major League Baseball would allow the A's to give Murray a major league contract.

Lexus LC Convertible Concept Headed To Detroit Auto Show
Japanese luxury auto manufacturer Lexus will come to the Detroit Motor Show with a convertible concept based on its LC model. More than just a grand tourer, the strong exterior lines of the LC Convertible concept reinforce its performance pedigree.

China sentences Canadian to death, raises diplomatic tension
The retrial on Monday was attended by about 70 observers including a small group of foreign journalists. Schellenberg was told in court he has the right to appeal within 10 days of receiving the ruling.

Kvitova beats Barty in Sydney International women’s final
Kenin now proceeds to Melbourne where she will play Russian qualifier Veronika Kudermetova in round one of the Australian Open. De Minaur claimed his first ATP title on Saturday night at the Sydney International beating Italian Andrea Seppi 7-5, 7-6.

Rice scores first Hammers goal to defeat Arsenal
Unai Emery believes Arsenal are now too inconsistent to finish in the Premier League top four. The technically gifted player who be a valuable addition given Arsenal's recent wobble.

Steve King condemns 'white supremacy' and says he's a 'nationalist'
The Times interviewed King for a story that delved into his past outspoken comments and views on immigration and race. Tim Ryan, D-Ohio, called for the House to formally censure King "for his racists remarks".

First photo emerges of Sean Payton's Lombardi trophy and cash display
Brees proved unstoppable in the first half of that November 4 meeting, as he shredded the Rams' defense to build a 21-point lead. Several Saints players, including star quarterback Drew Brees , confirmed the reports on Payton's unique motivation tactics.

Rockets’ James Harden drops to 2nd on Kia MVP ladder
The Bucks were down by 7 later in the quarter before using a 17-1 spurt to end the quarter and take a 92-83 lead into the fourth. CJ McCollum scored 24 points as Damian Lillard reached his fifth double-double of the season with 16 points and 10 assists.

Guardiola: If De Bruyne has a problem, he knows where I am
And, of course, with transfer gossip front and centre of everyone's mind this month, there's plenty of that to consider, too. When you are exhausted in the last minutes, they put on new players. "It looks easy but it's not easy", said Guardiola.

Suspect in Wisconsin killings, kidnapping due in court
The suspect, Jake Thomas Patterson , a 21-year-old Gordon resident, was arrested shortly after Jayme was discovered last Thursday. But they were still concerned he might be after her. "She is a strong girl and we are blessed to have her back", Trowbridge said.