A Saudi teenager granted United Nations (UN) refugee status after fleeing her family has deleted her Twitter account after receiving death threats, a friend has said. 

​Rahaf Mohammed al-Qunun arrived in Thailand last Saturday and refused to leave her Bangkok hotel room, insisting her life would be in danger if forced to return to Saudi Arabia

The 18-year-old used Twitter to publicise her case, and was on Wednesday placed in the care of workers from the UN’s refugee agency, UNHCR. 

But around midday on Friday, her Twitter account, @rahaf84427714, went offline after she posted she had “bad and good news!”. 

The account reappeared briefly about an hour later but went offline again within minutes.

A Twitter user known as Nourah, whom ​Ms Al-Qunun has referred to as a friend, tweeted that Ms Al-Qunun “received death threats and for this reason she closed her Twitter account”.

The teenager, who is staying in Bangkok at an undisclosed location and was not available for comment, had earlier said on Twitter she had been receiving death threats from a relative on the social media platform.

Ms Al-Qunun arrived in Thailand a week ago on a layover between Kuwait and Australia, but was initially detained by Thai authorities. 

Support free-thinking journalism and subscribe to Independent Minds

She soon started tweeting from the transit area of Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport, saying she had “escaped Kuwait” and her life would be threatened in Saudi Arabia.

Within hours, a campaign, dubbed #SaveRahaf, sprang up and spread on Twitter by a loose network of activists.

Ms Al-Qunun said she had renounced Islam – known as apostasy and punishable by death in Saudi Arabia – and that she feared her family would kill her as a result.

Having won refugee status, she is now awaiting a decision on where she might be granted asylum.

Sophie McNeill, an Australia Broadcast Corporation journalist who has had direct contact with Ms Al-Qunun, said the teenager was “safe and fine” but was taking a short break from Twitter.

“She’s just been receiving a lot of death threats,” Ms McNeill said on Twitter.

Australian foreign minister Marise Payne said on Thursday Australia was assessing whether to grant Ms Al-Qunun asylum.

While Ms Payne said there was “no timeframe” for a decision, Thailand’s immigration department chief, Surachate Hakparn, said it should become clear by Friday evening where Ms Al-Qunun would be granted asylum.

“Her physical and mental heath is good,” Mr Surachate told reporters.

“We should know by this evening which country she’ll be going to.”

Additional reporting by AP



Source link

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here