'Afraid I'd be killed like Khashoggi': Saudi teen's desperate plea to Australia

Evarado Alatorre
Enero 11, 2019

The Department of Home Affairs confirmed on Wednesday that the United Nations refugee agency had referred Ms Alqunun's case to Australia for consideration.

Meanwhile, a small group of Australian women held a 45-minute topless protest at the Saudi Arabia consulate general near Martin Place earlier on Thursday.

Rahaf Mohammed al-Ms Qunun was stopped by authorities at Bangkok's main airport as she arrived on a flight from Kuwait on the weekend after running away from her family, who she says subjected her to physical and psychological abuse.

He said he wants his daughter back but respects her decision, General Surachate added, and described the man as being a governor in Saudi Arabia.

Ms Alqunun told SBS News she will "ask the UN" to meet with Ms Payne.

Foreign Minister Marise Payne, on a scheduled visit to Bangkok to meet her Thai counterpart, told reporters Australia was "engaged in the steps of the assessment process of Miss Al-Qunun as required".

She soon started posting messages on Twitter from the transit area of Bangkok's Suvarnabhumi airport saying she had "escaped Kuwait" and her life would be in danger if forced to return to Saudi Arabia. The office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees quickly deemed her a legitimate refugee. It said her case had inspired millions and should remind people of the bravery and sacrifices of people who flee their native lands for safety.

In another message, she wrote "Is it true???"

On Thursday, protesters will gather in front of the Sydney Opera House to highlight the footballer's prolonged detention.

Ms Qunun's father, accompanied by her brother, arrived in Bangkok, and denied any physical abuse of his daughter, or any attempt to force her into an arranged marriage.

He said the family's patriarch had met with the UNHCR yesterday morning and will return to "her country" later today.

More news: Papá arrastra a su hija en el aeropuerto y se hizo viral

'He has 10 children.

"Her father is relieved that she is safe", Gen Surachate said, adding that the "UNHCR will find a third country that will accept her in two days".

It noted that Hakeem al-Araibi, a refugee and "torture survivor" from Bahrain granted residence in Australia, has been detained by Thailand since November awaiting a hearing on a Bahraini extradition request.

"I have reiterated those concerns to both ministers".

"The Thai government is most certainly aware of the importance of this matter to Australia", she said. "I do note that there are legal proceedings underway in relation to Mr.al-Araibi, and Australia will continue to be in very close contact with Thai authorities in relation to this".

Al-Araibi, who now plays for Melbourne's Pascoe Vale Football Club, has been publicly critical of the Bahrain royal family's alleged involvement in sports scandals, which puts him at risk of punishment by the Bahraini government.

Al-Araibi has said he was blindfolded and had his legs beaten while he was held in Bahrain in 2012. He said he believed he was targeted for arrest because of his Shiite faith and because his brother was politically active. Bahrain has a Shiite majority but is ruled by a Sunni monarchy, and has a reputation for harsh repression since its failed "Arab Spring" uprising in 2011.

"Australia has an extra responsibility to move heaven and earth to get Hakeem back to Australia, precisely because Australian police were the ones to tip off the Thai authorities that there was this Interpol Red Notice", Elaine Pearson, Australia director at Human Rights Watch (HRW), told Al Jazeera.

The world football body, Fifa, issued another press release on Thursday calling for "a humane and speedy resolution of the case" and Araibi's release.

"Sheikh Salman is obligated to support Hakeem. The silence of the Asian Football Confederation is not just confounding, it's absolutely disgraceful", he said.

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