'Afraid I’d be killed like Khashoggi': Saudi teen’s desperate plea to Australia

10 January 2019 15:34 Australia Desk

Rahaf Mohammed Alqunun told her father and brother being in Bangkok is a “danger to her.”

The Saudi teenager who was declared a refugee by the UNHCR after fleeing her homeland and being detained at Bangkok airport, says she fears for her life and can’t wait ‘weeks or months’ for Australia to review her case.

Rahaf Mohammed Alqunun arrived in Bangkok on Saturday, January 5, appealing for asylum and her application was fast tracked for security reasons, partly because of the arrival of her father and brother.

After the 18-year-old's plan to enter Australia on a tourist visa and seek asylum was derailed she barricaded herself in a hotel room to avoid being sent home and tweeted her plight.

Australia said on Wednesday it would consider taking in Ms Alqunun after the UNHCR referred her case to Australia.

Ms Alqunun told she could not wait weeks or months for a decision on her case, saying such a wait time was a "danger to me".

In Thailand on Thursday, Foreign Minister Marise Payne said she brought up Ms Alqunun with Thai counterparts.

"I took the opportunity, given events of recent days, to acknowledge the constructive way in which Thailand has referred Ms Alqunun to the UNHCR," she said.

"Following the UNHCR referral to Australia, Australia is now engaged in the steps of the assessment process of Ms Alqunun as required. That is a process that is underway."

Ms Payne also said she advocated for the release of a Melbourne-based refugee, Hakeem Al-Araibi who is being detained in Bangkok after being arrested over an Interpol Red Notice.

Father trying to 'take her home'

Ms Alqunun has refused to meet her father and brother who flew to Bangkok this week, and told SBS News she has no plans to do so before leaving Thailand.

Thai immigration chief Surachate Hakparn said the father of the 18-year-old wants to "take her home" and had announced he was "against" her seeking asylum.

“He wanted to make sure that his daughter was safe…he told me that he wanted to take her home,” General Surachate said, adding that Ms Alqunun’s father denied allegations her family was abusing her physically and emotionally.

He said he wants his daughter back but respects her decision, General Surachate added, and described the man as being a governor in Saudi Arabia

“He has 10 children. He said the daughter might feel neglected sometimes,” General Surachate said.

“But he didn’t go into detail.”

Afraid to be killed 'just like Jamal Khashoggi'

Ms Alqunun told SBS News she was "so happy" at the decision by the UNHCR to grant her refugee status, but said the death of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who was killed in the Saudi embassy in Turkey last year, was weighing on her mind.

“I was also afraid that I would be killed by the Saudi Embassy just like him," she said.

She said other young Saudi women should fight for their rights and not let anyone "break your wings, you’re free".

Labor has called on the government to resettle the teenager now that her refugee claim has been validated.

Speaking on ABC radio, the party’s Foreign Affairs spokesperson, Penny Wong, said Opposition Leader Bill Shorten had written to Scott Morrison urging him to accept Ms Alqunun.

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