#SaveRahaf: All you need to know about the Saudi teen detained in Bangkok

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First Published 7, Jan 2019, 10:46 AM IST
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#SaveRahaf: All you need to know about the Saudi teen detained in Bangkok
Highlights

Rahaf Mohammed Alqunun, according to reports, fled from her family during a holiday in Kuwait and boarded a flight to Thailand. However, when she reached Bangkok, her passport was confiscated by Saudi officials and she is now being held in the Miracle Transit Hotel at the airport.

Bangkok: An 18-year-old Saudi woman has stirred up a storm on Twitter after she took to the social media platform to seek help from her abusive family.

Rahaf Mohammed Alqunun, according to reports, fled from her family during a holiday in Kuwait and boarded a flight to Thailand. However, when she reached Bangkok, her passport was confiscated by Saudi officials and she is now being held in the Miracle Transit Hotel at the airport. 

Speaking to the world via Twitter, she pleads for help and said that her family will kill her. She wants asylum in Australia. 

Meanwhile, human rights advocates have urged the Thai government to help Alqunun and assist her to reach Australia. They have called on the United Nations Refugee Agency to help her.

“Saudi women fleeing their families can face severe violence from relatives, deprivation of liberty, and other serious harm if returned against their will…Thai authorities should immediately halt any deportation,” said Michael Page, the deputy Middle East director at Human Rights Watch, according to The New York Times.

Here are some serious allegations Alqunun made against her family 

1.    Alqunun stressed repeatedly that if her family gets to her, they will kill her. “They will kill me because I fled and because I announced my atheism…They wanted me to pray and to wear a veil, and I didn’t want to,” she said.

2.     She claims that her family is very strict and  they had locked her in a room for six months for cutting her hair. 

3.    In a Tweet she says, "I have been detained in an airport hotel. I will be forcibly repatriated tomorrow to Kuwait and then Saudi.”

4.    "There is an airport person who constantly follows me. I can't even ask for protection or asylum in Thailand. Thai police refuse to help me,” she added.

5.    A friend of Alqunun told to Guardian that the treats to her are real. “She’s ex-Muslim and has a very strict family, they’re using violence with her and she faced sexual harassment…She received a threat from her cousin – he said he wants to see her blood, he wants to kill her,” the person said, as reported by the website.

6.    The 20-year –old friend of Alqunun also said, “If they didn’t kill her they couldn’t go [around in] public after this [Qunun renouncing the Muslim faith], so they have to do it. It’s like, ‘If you’re a man you should prove it’. If they don’t kill her they can’t go outside and see other men.”

Who is her family?

According to reports, Alqunun and her six siblings live with their parents in in Ha’il in Saudi Arabia. Her father works as a government official there. 

Alqunun also claimed that her father had told Saudi embassy officials that she was mentally sick and needed to be returned. However, he could not provide evidence 

However, Thailand’s immigration chief, Surachate Hakparn said, “She had no further documents such as return ticket or money. She ran away from her family to avoid marriage and she is concerned she may be in trouble returning to Saudi Arabia. We sent officials to take care of her now.”
 

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