Despite her many calls for help, Rahaf Mohammed Al-Qunun, an 18-year-old Saudi girl, is at risk of being deported after being arrested on Sunday (January 6th) at Bangkok airport.
She is surely becoming "a symbol of resistance," according to Phil Robertson, a representative of Human Rights Watch (HRW) in Asia. Rahaf Mohammed Al-Qunun, a 18-year-old Saudi woman, claims to have suffered physical and psychological violence from her family and fears for her life if she returns to her country.
She claims to have been arrested by Saudi and Kuwaiti officials on her arrival at Thailand's Bangkok airport, adding that her passport was forcibly confiscated. But the Saudi Embassy has denied the presence of its representatives inside the terminal, adding on Twitter "To be in constant contact with the young woman's family".
Fear of being imprisoned in Saudi Arabia
Rahaf Mohammed Al-Qunun accuses his family of having locked her in a room for six months just for cutting her hair. Thai immigration, for its part, ensures that it tries to escape an arranged marriage. She fears being imprisoned if she returns to Saudi Arabia. "I'm 100% sure that (my family, Ed) will kill me when I leave a Saudi prison", she told AFP.
In Saudi Arabia, a façade opening on human rights
It was due to be sent back to Saudi Arabia on Monday, January 7, via Kuwait on a plane that took off from Bangkok at 11:15 am local time. But "The flight finally left without her because she barricaded herself in a hotel room at the airport", told AFP Phil Robertson.
"I call everyone in transit zone in Bangkok to protest against my deportation", she said Monday morning in a video posted on Twitter. "I will not leave my room until I meet with UNHCR" (UN High Commissioner for Refugees), she warned.
UNHCR's representation in Bangkok indicated "Try to gain access" to her "To assess the need for international protection". But the Thai authorities have not allowed it to do so for now.
An appeal refused
Human rights lawyer Nadthasiri Bergman on Monday (January 7th) appealed to the Bangkok Criminal Court to try to prevent extradition, but "They rejected the appeal"The lawyer told AFP, preparing to meet the young Saudi at the airport.
The young woman nevertheless indicated that she was planning to seek asylum in Australia where she assures to have a visa. Information for the time not confirmed by the Australian Embassy.
A petition was also launched on the platform Change.org to plead the cause of the young woman.
The problem of guardianship in Saudi Arabia
In April 2017, the fate of another Saudi woman, 24-year-old Dina Ali Lasloum, who had been arrested while traveling through the Philippines to Sydney, had raised concerns of Human Rights Watch. The young woman wanted to escape a forced marriage.
The Saudi Embassy in Manila had presented the incident as a family affair, assuring that the young woman was "Back home with his family in Canada".
In Saudi Arabia, these women engaged for their rights
Saudi Arabia is known for its many restrictions on women. In particular, they are subject to the guardianship of a man (father, husband or other, as the case may be) who exercises arbitrary authority over them and takes the important decisions in his place.
A woman who is convicted of committing a crime "Moral" can be punished violently by his family, including being killed.
The Cross (with AFP)