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Saudi teenager to arrive in Canada as Trudeau confirms asylum is granted

Last update: 12/01/2019
TORONTO, Jan 12 (Bernama) -- The Saudi teenager Rahaf Mohammed al-Qunun, who barricaded herself in a Bangkok hotel is on her way to Canada after her asylum request made through the United Nations has been granted.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has confirmed the acceptance of Rahaf who had fled from alleged abuse by her family in Saudi Arabia, and landed in Bangkok. She spent about a week holed up in the hotel room, fearing for her safety.

The touching story of Rahaf who was first held by Thai officials at the airport, and had her passport seized and denied entry, had made headline news around the world, prompting Canada to play a crucial role over her plight.

According to her, she had fled Kuwait while her family was visiting the Gulf country and had planned to travel from Thailand to Australia to seek asylum, but during the stopover in Bangkok, she was detained.

According to Surachate Hakparn, Thailand's immigration chief, Rahaf was already on her way to Toronto, leaving at 11:15 p.m Friday, which is 11:15 a.m. ET. “It was her wish to go to Canada. The story ends today,” Hakparn was quoted as telling reporters.

A Korean Air flight with Rahaf on board left Bangkok for Seoul on Friday night at 11:37 p.m. local time. She was to board a connecting flight to Toronto from Seoul’s Incheon airport and is expected to arrive in Canada on Saturday morning.

Trudeau defended Canada's decision to grant the teenager asylum, saying Canada was standing up for human rights.

Rahaf's plight has seen Canada persuade Thai authorities not to send her back to Saudi Arabia against her wishes, according to Human Rights Watch.

Her drama is unfolding at a time when Canada and Saudi Arabia are at loggerheads over other human rights issues in the kingdom.

Canada has issued sanctions against 17 Saudis linked them to the death of dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi inside Saudi Arabia's consulate in Istanbul.

A deal to supply light armoured vehicles to Saudi Arabia was being reviewed as well.

Trudeau said Canada is always unequivocal in standing up for human rights and women's rights around the world as part of its tradition of constructively engaging with countries.

Thailand is not a signatory to the 1951 Refugee Convention but has signed international human rights treaties barring it from deporting asylum seekers to places where they are at risk.


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