Saudi woman will not be forcibly deported: Thailand immigration chief

Saudi woman Rahaf Mohammed al-Qunun. Photograph:( Reuters )

WION Web Team Bangkok, Thailand Jan 07, 2019, 03.07 PM (IST)

Thai immigration chief Surachate Hakparn said Monday that they would not forcibly deport the 18-year-old Saudi girl Rahaf Mohammed al-Qunun.

"If she does not want to leave, we will not force her," immigration chief Surachate Hakparn at a press conference at Suvarnabhumi airport.

Rahaf had locked herself up in a hotel room at the airport. She says she is fleeing an abusive family in Saudi Arabia, and that she fears they will kill her if she returns.  

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Hakparn added that Rahaf would be allowed to meet UN refugee officials and that they would not send her anywhere against her wishes.

Qunun had earlier tweeted demanding the intervention of UN in the case. 

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Rahaf Mohammed al-Qunun has been at Bangkok airport since Saturday when she was denied entry into the country by Thai immigration officials.

The Thai immigration officials and the Saudi Foreign Ministry have denied her allegations that its embassy had confiscated her passport.

Rahaf told Reuters she fled Kuwait while her family was visiting the Gulf country and had planned to travel from Thailand to Australia to seek asylum. She said she was detained after leaving her plane in Bangkok and told she would be sent back to Kuwait.

"My brothers and family and the Saudi embassy will be waiting for me in Kuwait," Qunun said by text and voice message from the hotel on Sunday.

"They will kill me," she said. "My life is in danger. My family threatens to kill me for the most trivial things."

Asked why she was seeking refuge in Australia, she said: "Physical, emotional and verbal abuse and being imprisoned inside the house for months. They threaten to kill me and prevent me from continuing my education.

"They won`t let me drive or travel. I am oppressed. I love life and work and I am very ambitious but my family is preventing me from living." 

(With input from agencies)

Story highlights

Eighteen-year-old Rahaf Mohammed al-Qunun had locked herself up in a hotel room at Bangkok's Suvarnabhumi airport. She says she is fleeing an abusive family in Saudi Arabia and that she fears they will kill her if she returns.