Canada grants asylum to Saudi woman in Thailand


Her tweets attracted the attention of the United Nations, the Australian government and reporters.

"Rahaf Mohammed al-Qanun - mark my words - is going to start a revolution in Saudi Arabia", she said in the video.

The 18-year-old's swift use of Twitter saw her amass more than 100,000 followers within a week, highlighting her plight and allowing her to avoid the fate of countless other refugees who are quietly sent back home or languish in detention centres.

"Canada has been unequivocal that we'll stand up for human rights and women's rights around the world".

In August, Riyadh expelled Canada's ambassador to the kingdom and withdrew its own ambassador after Canada's foreign ministry tweeted support for the arrests of women's rights activists.

The UN welcomed the decision and also acknowledged Thailand had given al-Qunun temporary refuge.

The office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees quickly deemed her a legitimate refugee.

"Refugee protection today is often under threat and can not always be assured, but in this instance global refugee law and overriding values of humanity have prevailed".

Rahaf Mohammed al-Qanun is safe at last.

Payne's visit will also put a spotlight on another refugee case, involving a Bahrain footballer Hakeem AlAraibi, who has refugee status in Australia but was arrested at Bangkok airport a year ago after arriving for his honeymoon.

Canada's apparent decision to accept Qunun could further upset its relationship with Saudi Arabia.

Australia's Foreign Minister Marise Payne gestures as she answers a journalist's question in Bangkok, Thailand, Thursday, Jan. 10, 2019. Human rights activists say many such cases have gone unreported.

"We wish her all the best in Canada, but Mr Coleman needs to explain why Australia was taking so long to process her case".

The teen has also become the victim of numerous death threats via social media, prompting her to suspend her Twitter account.

Australia had been one of the countries weighing offering Ms Alqunun asylum.

It is not clear why the Australian option fell through, and the United Nations switched to Canada. She landed Saturday and planned to fly from there to Australia.

"3rd country", she wrote, apparently referring to Canada.

"Another young Saudi girl - another genuine refugee - was dragged back from an airport to Saudi Arabia to a presumably awful fate while trying to escape the country in 2017".

Ms Qunun told the BBC: "I shared my story and my pictures on social media and my father is so angry because I did this".

"It would be a pretty stunning reversal if they didn't take her", he said.

"My family is strict and locked me in a room for six months just for cutting my hair".

She refused to meet with them.

"I understand that there have been death threats against her but I don't know the details", said Phil Robertson from Human Rights Watch, adding even threats from online trolls need to be taken seriously.

Has anything like this happened before?

Payne was also asked by reporters about the case of Hakeem al-Araibi, a 25-year-old former member of Bahrain's national soccer team, who was granted refugee status in Australia in 2017 after fleeing his homeland, where he said he was persecuted and tortured.