Saudi teen says she will be killed if repatriated

Rahaf Mohammed M. Alqunun said she was trying to flee her family, who subjected her to physical and psychological abuse.
Rahaf Mohammed M. Alqunun said she was trying to flee her family, who subjected her to physical and psychological abuse.PHOTO: TWITTER/@RAHAF MOHAMMED

BANGKOK • A Saudi teen held at Bangkok airport said she would be killed if she was repatriated by Thai immigration officials, who confirmed that the 18-year-old was denied entry to the country yesterday.

Rahaf Mohammed M. Alqunun told AFP she was stopped by Saudi and Kuwaiti officials when she arrived in Suvarnabhumi airport from Kuwait, and her travel document was forcibly taken from her, a claim backed by Human Rights Watch.

"They took my passport," she said, and that her male guardian had reported her for travelling "without his permission".

Rahaf said she was trying to flee her family, who subjected her to physical and psychological abuse.

"My family is strict and locked me in a room for six months just for cutting my hair," she said, adding that she is certain she will be imprisoned if she is sent back.

"I'm sure 100 per cent they will kill me as soon as I get out of the Saudi jail," she said, adding that she was "scared" and "losing hope".

Thai immigration chief Surachate Hakparn told AFP: "She had no further documents such as return ticket or money."

Rahaf is currently in an airport hotel, he said.

"She ran away from her family to avoid marriage and she is concerned she may be in trouble returning to Saudi Arabia."

He added that she would be sent back to Saudi Arabia by this morning.

Rahaf said she was in transit to seek asylum in Australia, where she claimed to have a visa.

Human Rights Watch Asia deputy director Phil Robertson said: "What country allows diplomats to wander around the closed section of the airport and seize the passports of the passengers?"

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 07, 2019, with the headline 'Saudi teen says she will be killed if repatriated'. Print Edition | Subscribe