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Saudi teen who fled family leaves Thailand for asylum in Canada


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Saudi teen who fled family leaves Thailand for asylum in Canada

By Patpicha Tanakasempipat and Anna Mehler Paperny

 

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Rahaf Mohammed al-Qunun, a Saudi woman who claims to be fleeing her country and family, is seen in Bangkok, Thailand January 7, 2019 in this still image taken from a video obtained from social media. TWITTER/ @rahaf84427714/via REUTERS

 

BANGKOK/TORONTO (Reuters) - An 18-year-old Saudi woman who fled her family saying she feared for her life has been granted asylum in Canada, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Friday, as Thai officials confirmed the teen was en route to Toronto.

 

Trudeau said United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) had asked Canada to take in Rahaf Mohammed al-Qunun, who grabbed international attention this week after she barricaded herself in a Bangkok airport hotel room to resist being sent home to her family, which denies any abuse.

 

"Canada is a country that understands how important it is to stand up for human rights, to stand up for women's rights around the world, and I can confirm that we have accepted the U.N.'s request," he told reporters.

 

The decision is likely to exacerbate Canada's already poor relations with Saudi Arabia, which last year barred the Canadian ambassador to Riyadh after Ottawa criticized Saudi authorities for detaining women's' activists.

 

Qunun arrived in Bangkok on Saturday and was initially denied entry, but 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.

 

Following a 48-hour stand-off at Bangkok airport, some of it barricaded in a transit lounge hotel room, she was allowed to enter Thailand and was then processed as a refugee by the UNHCR.

 

The UNHCR welcomed Canada's decision and also acknowledged Thailand had given Qunun temporary refuge.

 

"Ms. al-Qunun's plight has captured the world's attention over the past few days, providing a glimpse into the precarious situation of millions of refugees worldwide," U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi said in a statement.

 

Qunun has accused her family of abuse, and has refused to meet her father and brother who arrived in Bangkok to try take her back to Saudi Arabia.

 

"It was her wish to go to Canada," Thailand's immigration chief Surachate Hakparn told reporters. "She still refuses to meet with her father and brother, and they are going to be travelling back tonight as well ... They are disappointed."

 

Her case has drawn global attention to Saudi Arabia's strict social rules, including a requirement that women have the permission of a male "guardian" to travel, which rights groups say can trap women and girls as prisoners of abusive families.

 

A Korean Air flight carrying Qunun left Bangkok for Seoul on Friday night at 11:37 p.m. local time (1637 GMT), an airport official told Reuters.

 

Qunun will board a connecting flight to Toronto from Seoul's Incheon airport. She is expected to arrive in Canada on Saturday morning.

 

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

 

"Canada has been unequivocal that we will always stand up for human rights and women's rights around the world," he said.

 

Amid increasing domestic political pressure, Trudeau said last month that his Liberal government was looking for a way out of a multibillion-dollar arms deal with Riyadh.

 

Qunun's flight has emerged at a time when Riyadh is facing unusually intense scrutiny from its Western allies over the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in October and over the humanitarian consequences of its war in Yemen.

 

Canada has repeatedly said Khashoggi's murder was unacceptable and demanded a full explanation.

 

 
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-- © Copyright Reuters 2019-01-12
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1 hour ago, rooster59 said:

saying she feared for her life has been granted asylum in Canada,

as seems their norm , thailand, presented with a gift opportunity, with the world watching, screwed it up in favor of other nations who understand human rights

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Good  luck and dont forget your  fellow  countrywomen and start a campaign to make more folk aware  of the sickness of religion.

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19 minutes ago, YetAnother said:

as seems their norm , thailand, presented with a gift opportunity, with the world watching, screwed it up in favor of other nations who understand human rights

"The UNHCR welcomed Canada's decision and also acknowledged Thailand had given Qunun temporary refuge."

what exactly did Thailand screw up? they didn't want to get involved and gave the girl refuge and she is now on the way to canada.

the world is watching? the same world selling billions of dollars of arms to the saudis every year.

I am sure thailand will be losing a lot of sleep over it 🙄

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2 hours ago, rooster59 said:

"She still refuses to meet with her father and brother, and they are going to be travelling back tonight as well ... They are disappointed."

yeah  disappointed they couldnt kill her  most  likely.................but Canada  needs to protect her, Im sure they  will be  trying a  trip out  there soon.

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2 minutes ago, MARK74 said:

"The UNHCR welcomed Canada's decision and also acknowledged Thailand had given Qunun temporary refuge."

what exactly did Thailand screw up? they didn't want to get involved and gave the girl refuge and she is now on the way to canada.

the world is watching? the same world selling billions of dollars of arms to the saudis every year.

I am sure thailand will be losing a lot of sleep over it 🙄

Thailand tripped a couple time but recovered nicely. 

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How difficult to understand that a simple woman looking for her freedom, was been in world top news.

She just open a big door for many other who are seeking for freedom.

 

Well done Canada!

 

 

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38 minutes ago, YetAnother said:

as seems their norm , thailand, presented with a gift opportunity, with the world watching, screwed it up in favor of other nations who understand human rights

Thailand ain't a great place for women, I recon she got lucky with Canada, she'll get offered free everything, probably forever.

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Glad to see my suggestion for Canada to become involved was listened to by Trudeau. I didn't know he was following Thaivisa, LOL. She will be well cared for here in Canada.

And news today (as Trump "walls" asylum seekers and immigrants out), Canada sees win/win value in immigration and will take in another million persons over the next 3 years.

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5 minutes ago, BritManToo said:

Thailand ain't a great place for women, I recon she got lucky with Canada, she'll get offered free everything, probably forever.

Trudeau can now say touché. He stuck it to MbS good on this one.

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Hang on, she, UNHCR & Thai Gov't were originally saying she wanted to go to Australia, now all of a sudden,"left the building".... going to Canada!! All seems a bit dodgy!! 

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