Thai police: Canada, Australia willing to accept Saudi woman

Australia Considering Resettlement for Fleeing Saudi Woman

Under the kingdom's strict guardianship laws, adult women must obtain permission from a male guardian to travel overseas, marry or be released from prison.

The UN refugee agency has referred Ms.al-Qunun to Australia for consideration for refugee resettlement.

On Wednesday, Australia said it would consider taking Qunun in.

The saga of Rahaf Mohammed al-Qunun grabbed worldwide 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.

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.

She quashed speculation that Alqunun might accompany her back to Australia, "because there are steps which are required in the process which Australia, and any other country considering such a matter, would have to go through". Human rights activists say many more similar cases will have gone unreported.

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Al-Qunun, who barricaded herself in a hotel at Bangkok airport to prevent officials from deporting her after fleeing her family in Kuwait, has been granted refugee status by the United Nations refugee office and is hoping to receive asylum in Australia.

Ms Qunun is now in the care of the UN's refugee agency in Bangkok, which is processing her case. In downtown Sydney on Thursday, four women dressed in jeans and calling themselves the Secret Sisterhood held a topless protest outside the building housing the Saudi Consulate, calling on Australia to grant Alqunun residency.

Surachate said her father and brother were due to return home on a flight in the early hours of Saturday.

Thailand's immigration chief Surachate Hakparn told reporters Friday that as far as he knows there are "two or three" countries who could offer asylum.

Payne said she also raised Australia's concerns with Thai officials about Hakeem Al-araibi, a 25-year-old former member of Bahrain's national soccer team, who was granted refugee status in Australia in 2017 after fleeing his homeland, where he said he was persecuted and tortured.

Australia had dropped strong hints it would accept her after the United Nations urged the country to do so and it remains unclear why the resettlement location changed.

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Her father and brother arrived in Bangkok on Tuesday, but Ms Qunun "refused to see" them, according to Thai Immigration Chief Lt Gen Surachate Hakparn, who has been caught up in the global firestorm since Ms Qunun's arrival.

Human Rights Watch deputy Asia director Phil Robertson commended Thailand in their decision not to send al-Qunun back to Saudi Arabia.

Experts agree the media focus on al-Qunun's case has put pressure on officials in Thailand - which usually have little sympathy for asylum seekers - to act quickly.

On Friday afternoon she posted a final cryptic tweet on her profile saying "I have some good news and some bad news" - shortly after her account was deactivated in response to death threats she had faced, her friends said.

The Saudi embassy in Bangkok said it "did not demand her deportation" and that the case is "a family affair".

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