Who is Rahaf al-Qunun, why is her life in danger?

Who is Rahaf al-Qunun, why is her life in danger?

Who is Rahaf al-Qunun, why is her life in danger?

"The Australian government is pleased that Ms Rahaf Mohammed Al-Qunun is having her claim for protection assessed by the UNHCR", a spokesperson for Australia's Department of Home Affairs told NPR on Tuesday.

In a statement from the government, Ms Alqunun will be subject to Australian checks before she is granted a humanitarian visa, including character and security assessments.

At about 1am on Monday morning, Ms Qunun posted a video of herself pushing a table to barricade her hotel room door.

The organization's Australian director, Elaine Pearson, said she had seen electronic confirmation of her tourist visa, but that Qunun could no longer access her visa page on Australia's immigration website on Tuesday, sparking concern the document had been cancelled.

Australia will consider giving Ms Qunun a humanitarian visa if the process finds she is a refugee, he said.

Thai immigration services said that such a meeting is possible only with approval from United Nations personnel. Her Twitter account has attracted more than 66,000 followers in less than 48 hours.

Friends of Saudi woman Ms Alqunun claim she was nearly forced onto a flight from Thailand back to Kuwait despite seeking asylum in Australia. She also said she had renounced her religion, Islam.

In the early hours of Sunday, Jan. 6, Rahaf began tweeting for help: "I'm in real danger because the Saudi embassy trying to forcing (sic) me to go back to Saudi Arabia, while I'm at the airport waiting for my second flight", she tweeted to the world.

Until recently, Alqunun had been living with her parents and six siblings in Ha'il, Saudi Arabia, where her father is a government official according to the Daily Mail.

Her father and brother are "the two male relatives (Qunun) most fears" and could "physically harm her in an effort to compel her to return", said Human Rights Watch's Phil Robertson, who has been in contact with her since she started live-tweeting her ordeal.


He told Australia's ABC that he was concerned about the arrival of Alqunun's father in Thailand. After that he took my passport. "If I go back to Saudi Arabia, I will be dead". Saudi officials have denied any involvement in her case. My family do this, I know them.

"They will kill me because I fled and because I announced my atheism", she said.

Qunun has now more than 90,000 followers on Twitter, while a petition on Change.org asking to grant her asylum in Britain had reached more nearly 80,000 signatures by Tuesday evening.

An 18-year-old girl who locked herself in a Thai hotel room to keep from being sent back to her allegedly abusive family has been allowed to stay in the country to meet with United Nations refugee officials.

She later posted to Twitter on January 8 that her passport had been returned and she felt safe under UNHCR protection.

He added that he is set to meet with Saudi diplomats on Tuesday to discuss Thailand's decision on Qunun's status.

On Wednesday, the Australian Department of Home Affairs revealed that it will consider the 18-year-old's referral from the UN.

Al-Qunun alleged several times that Saudi officials were involved in seizing her passport.

"Yesterday, they [social media supporters] made the difference in Rahaf's life", she said. Saudi activists say the kingdom, through its embassies overseas, has at times put pressure on border patrol agents in foreign countries to deport the women back to Saudi Arabia. "There are reports that she is receiving death threats and that Saudi men are calling for her to be hanged as an example to other would be 'rebels'".

Speaking on condition of anonymity, the activist said there had been instances where Saudi women runaways were stopped by authorities in Hong Kong or the Philippines en route to Australia or New Zealand.

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