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Saudi woman seeking asylum in Australia detained in Thailand, could be forced to return home

Saudi women are prohibited from travelling without a male guardian [Twitter]

Date of publication: 6 January, 2019

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A Saudi woman who fled her home to seek asylum in Australia has reportedly been detained in an airport in Thailand and will be forced to return to her family.

A Saudi woman who fled her home in Kuwait to seek asylum in Australia has reportedly been detained in an airport in Thailand and could be forced to return to her family.

Eighteen-year-old Rahaf Mohammed al-Qunun said on Saturday that Saudi embassy officials stopped her during transit at Bangkok airport and seized her passport.

"I'm in real danger because the Saudi embassy is trying to forcing me to go back to Saudi Arabia, while I'm at the airport waiting for my second flight," Qunun said in a series of tweets.

"I have been detained in an airport hotel. I will be forcibly repatriated tomorrow to Kuwait and then Saudi Arabia. There is an airport official who constantly follows me around. I can’t even ask for protection or asylum in Thailand. Thai police refuse to help me,"

Qunun said that she fears she could be killed if she is forced to return to Riyadh and that Saudi officials have threatened to kidnap her if she attempts to flee.

"My father and the Saudi embassy are trying to accuse me of being mentally ill and unaware of what I am doing. They have forged a medical document saying this," she added.

Human Rights Watch's deputy Asia director has called on the United Nations refugee agency to intervene to protect Qunun.

Last year, a Saudi woman was taken off her Australian-bound flight and put on a Saudi Airlines flight back home on request of officials from the kingdom's embassy in the Philippines.

Members of Dina Ali Lasloom's family are understood to have flown out to Manila to bring the young woman back to Saudi Arabia.

They reportedly tied her up with duct tape and wrapped a bed sheet around her to drag her onto a Riyadh-bound flight.

Under the kingdom's conservative interpretation of Islamic law, women are prohibited from travelling without a male guardian.

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