Rahaf al-Qunun will get 'no special treatment' from Australia, Peter Dutton says

Rahaf al-Qunun will get 'no special treatment' from Australia, Peter Dutton says
Minister says he will consider Saudi teenager Rahaf Mohammed al-Qunun’s asylum request if she is found to be a refugee

Australia’s home affairs minister has warned there will be “no special treatment” in the case of Saudi teenager Rahaf Mohammed al-Qunun, the 18-year-old Saudi woman who barricaded herself in a Bangkok airport hotel room to prevent her forcible return to a family she claims will kill her.
While there has been a groundswell of support for Qunun to be granted refugee status and resettled in Australia, Peter Dutton, a hardliner in Australia’s conservative government, said: “There is no special circumstance for anybody in this situation.

“Nobody wants to see a young girl in distress and she has obviously now found a safe haven in Thailand and the United Nations will assess the veracity of the claims and what would happen next.”

The Australian director of Human Rights Watch Australia, Elaine Pearson, said the extraordinary circumstances around Qunun’s case should be taken into account.

“She is a young Saudi woman whose face has been plastered around the world,” Pearson said. “She’s more at risk than other refugees, not just from her family but threats she has faced online and from her own government.

“We all know what the Saudi government is capable of doing on foreign soil. I would hope that, once her claim has been assessed, the Australian government will act quickly to get her out of Thailand and to safety.”

Qunun’s father and brother arrived in Bangkok on Tuesday evening and have asked to see her. But the Thai immigration chief, Surachate Hakpan, said the men would have to wait to learn whether the UN’s refugee agency would allow the request.

“The father and brother want to go and talk to Rahaf but the UN will need to approve such talk,” Surachate told reporters.

Qunun was detained on arrival at Bangkok and denied entry to Thailand while en route to Australia, where she said she intended to seek asylum. She has been taken under the protection of the UN high commissioner for refugees in Thailand, which said processing the case and determining next steps could take several days.

The Australian government previously said it would carefully consider granting a visa to Qunun if she is found to be a refugee by the United Nations. Her friends said on Tuesday that Australia had cancelled the tourist visa she was travelling on.

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