THE teenage daughter of a Saudi government official who fled the kingdom to seek asylum in Australia has been given the right to temporarily remain in Thailand.
Rahaf Mohammed Alqunun ran away from home over claims her parents beat her, locked her away for months and threatened her – just for cutting her hair.
The 18-year-old barricaded herself in a hotel room after she was caught by immigration officials at Suvarnabhumi Airport in Bangkok, attempting to reach Australia.
The teenager had fled her family who were on holiday in Kuwait, arriving in Thailand on Saturday.
She was denied entry to the country and was initially supposed to be put on a flight home.
But the teenager protested and locked herself away.
UN refugee agency workers from UNHCR were called in to deal with the distressed teen who said she feared for her life.
She has now be told she is allowed to stay in Thailand “under their care” and will not be sent anywhere against her wishes.
The teenager is the daughter of Saudi government official Mohammed Alqunun who has arrived in Bangkok to bring her home.
The teen took to Twitter to tell thousands of followers she was “scared” and “worried” about going back home and that for the first time she felt “safe” with the UNHCR.
Thai Major General Surachate Hakparn said: “As of now, she does not wish to go back and we will not force her.
“She won’t be sent anywhere tonight. She fled hardship. Thailand is a land of smiles.
“We will not send anyone to die. We will not do that. We will adhere to human rights under the rule of law.”
A decision will be made over the next five days over how long she can stay, while Australian officials are also looking at her asylum appeal.
Under Saudi Arabia’s strict male guardianship laws, women must have the consent of a male relative to travel, obtain a passport or marry.
Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director for Human Rights Watch, said: “Given Saudi Arabia’s long track record of looking the other way in so-called honour violence incidents, her worry that she could be killed if returned cannot be ignored.”
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