Rahaf Mohammed al-Qunun has deactivated her Twitter account, which had helped her to focus on her plight and keep away from deportation from Thailand
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau introduced Friday that Canada was taking in an 18-year-old Saudi asylum seeker who fled her household and harnessed the facility of Twitter to stave off deportation from Thailand.
Rahaf Mohammed al-Qunun was already en path to Toronto late Friday when the prime minister made the shock announcement, after officers had beforehand given heavy hints she was certain for Australia.
“Canada has been unequivocal that we’ll rise up for human rights and girls’s rights world wide,” Trudeau stated. “When the United Nations made a request of us that we grant al-Qunun’s asylum, we accepted.”
The transfer is certain to additional pressure Canadian relations with the dominion that went sideways final August over Ottawa’s rights criticism of Saudi Arabia, prompting Riyadh to expel the Canadian ambassador and sever all commerce and funding ties in protest.
Canada additionally sparked fury in Riyadh by demanding the “instant launch” of jailed rights campaigners, together with Samar Badawi, the sister of jailed blogger Raif Badawi, whose household lives in Quebec.
Qunun’s try and flee the ultra-conservative kingdom was embraced by rights teams as a beacon of defiance in opposition to repression.
Thai authorities initially threatened to deport her after she arrived in Bangkok from Kuwait final weekend.
However armed with a smartphone and rapidly opened Twitter account, she pressured a U-turn from Thai immigration police who handed her into the care of the UN’s refugee company because the #SaveRahaf hashtag bounced the world over.
– ‘Precarious state of affairs’ –
Qunun left from the identical airport the place her quest for asylum started lower than every week in the past
“Ms. al-Qunun’s plight has captured the world’s consideration over the previous few days, offering a glimpse into the precarious state of affairs of thousands and thousands of refugees worldwide,” UN Excessive Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi stated.
“Refugee safety at this time is commonly underneath menace and can’t at all times be assured, however on this occasion worldwide refugee regulation and overriding values of humanity have prevailed.”
Raif Badawi’s spouse Ensaf Haidar additionally praised Canada, calling International Minister Chrystia Freeland on Twitter “the actual hero” behind efforts to forestall Qunun’s repatriation to Saudi Arabia.
Qunun alleged that she was abused by her household — who deny the allegations — and rights teams additionally stated she had renounced Islam, risking prosecution in Saudi Arabia.
Qunun first stated she was aiming for Australia the place officers had steered they’d give critical consideration to her declare for asylum, which was endorsed as reliable by the UNHCR on Wednesday.
However late Friday Thailand’s immigration police chief stated a smiling and cheerful Rahaf was certain for Toronto and had left on a flight after 11:00 pm (1600 GMT).
“She selected Canada… Canada stated it’s going to settle for her,” Thai immigration chief Surachate Hakparn instructed reporters at Bangkok’s predominant airport.
“She is protected now and has good bodily and psychological well being. She is pleased.”
Qunun left from the identical airport the place her quest for asylum started lower than every week in the past in a swift-moving course of that defied most norms.
– Demise threats –
On Friday afternoon Qunun posted a cryptic tweet on her profile saying “I’ve some excellent news and a few dangerous information” — shortly afterward, her account was deactivated in response to loss of life threats she had confronted, her pals stated.
However she was again on-line later within the day, tweeting: “I want to thanks individuals for supporting me and saiving my life. Really I’ve by no means dreamed of this love and help.”
Qunun’s swift use of Twitter noticed her amass greater than tens of 1000’s of followers inside every week, highlighting her plight at a time when Saudi Arabia’s human rights report is underneath heavy scrutiny following the homicide of journalist Jamal Khashoggi final yr.
Her deployment of social media allowed her to keep away from the destiny of numerous different refugees who’re quietly despatched again residence or languish in Bangkok detention facilities.
She refused to see her father ,who traveled to Thailand and expressed opposition to her resettlement.
Surachate stated her father and brother had been resulting from return residence on a flight within the early hours of Saturday.
Though her asylum case moved quick the ultimate maneuvers that led to her flight to Canada stay largely a thriller.
Australia had dropped robust hints it could settle for her after the UN urged the nation to take action and it stays unclear why the resettlement location modified.
On Thursday its international minister stated Canberra was nonetheless assessing the request.
Thailand’s immigration chief Surachate had earlier instructed reporters Friday that “two or three” nations had been prepared to supply her asylum.
The Southeast Asian nation just isn’t a signatory to a conference on refugees and asylum seekers should be referred to a 3rd nation.