Saudi Arabia, Saudi Government, Thailand discussed on BBC Newshour
In a hotel room in Thailand. That's our top story. Also, a dramatic morning in Gabon in west Africa. It's not a country. We hear about very often. But there's been an attempted coup that we'll have the latest to stay with us. Lots coming up this hour. We begin today though, with the plight of young woman from Saudi Arabia, who's personal circumstances are throwing a spotlight once more on society inside the kingdom. Her name is Ralph Mohammed, Al Conan cheese. Eighteen years old she'd been with her family in Kuwait, but then boarded a flight to Thailand with the intention of seeking asylum in Australia in Thailand, she says her passport was confiscated, and she then barricaded herself into a hotel room at the airport on Sunday. She told news is James camera. Sammy why she fled from her? Family. I don't have rights and Saudi Arabia and my family. So you are scared to go back with your family. Yeah. Do will kill me. Why do you think that because I shared my story on my lectures, and social media, and my father so armee because I did this, and why did you decide to renounce Islam because I don't have rights and Islam? I'm what are you hoping to do in Australia? I can study and you walk in my conscious. So this we and study and work as I want. That was RAV speaking to us yesterday in the last couple of hours some good news for her. The authorities in Thailand have said she won't be deported against her will and our correspondent in Bangkok says she has just left her hotel under the care of the United Nations, we hope to speak to the UN shortly just before that announcement was made we got through to another woman from Saudi Arabia. Her name is Nora. She only wants us to use her first name. She met Rahaf online and has been in touch with her for year within an online group supporting each other and discussing life inside Saudi Arabia. Nora has herself fled the kingdom and been in Australia for two months. She was given access to Ross Twitter account and was in touch with her every twenty minutes also during her ordeal. She's from conservative and Turk family. There are as many Saudi families. They don't allow women to have their essentials. Right. Of course, with the consent of the Saudi government. Is it your understanding that she comes from a prominent family is her family connected to the government in any way. Yes. I think her father he working with the government. And when did you know that she was trying to leave her family? Okay. I didn't know about that. After she escaped and arrived, Charleston. A member of Saudi embassy took hair bastard, therefore, she contract and ask for help and assistance. So the phone, and I'm assuming you've never met her in person. I don't need to match her first she's a woman and she need help. And all of us. We knew who is the Saudi government, and we so what's happened to other people. Does your analysts in Turkey. As example. You're talking about g. Yes. What's your understanding of have frame of mind from your the contact that you have had with her? She's terrified she didn't get sleep or fruit and cheer views to to open the door, and she warned open the door until the you arrive, and it's your understanding that everything that she is saying is absolutely true that have family will she spoke to our program yesterday. And she says that her family will kill her that life is in danger. My family threatens to kill me for the most trivial things. Yes, they will. You seem very sure because there are Saudi family, and I I am from Saudi family. And I I know when you say that you are from Saudi family. I mean, you are now no longer living in Saudi Arabia. What was your experience of trying to leave Cape from? Saudi Arabia, and I did this because I am ex Muslim. And a faith a lot of things in Saudi Arabia, again Saudi government, they know about everything happened to those women raff has done something similar Rajavi has said that she renounces Islam. This is a very serious thing. Isn't it? Yes. According to Saudi below few alleged their religion. They will kill you. Do you feel safe now given what you have done? Yes. You don't you don't pay for any recrimination? No, retribution. No, I'm safe country now, and they protecting me, I guess, how's Nora a friend of Rahaf. Speaking to me from Australia before Rahaf had left that hotel room at the airport now for their part, the Saudi foreign ministry published this statement about rafts arrival in Thailand, which we have voiced up. She does not have a return reservation or a tourist program which requires deportation by the tile thirties. The embassy does not have the authority to stop her at the airport or anywhere else. She was stopped by the airport. Authorities for violating the laws. She will be deported to the state of Kuwait where her family live the embassy is in constant contact with her family and her passport was not impounded by the Saudi embassy. Statement there from the Saudi foreign ministry. So what part did the United Nations refugee agency play in this fast moving and still developing story. I'm joined by the head of communications, Melissa Fleming. Melissa fleming. We just heard what the Saudi authorities are saying that she will be deported back to Kuwait. What can you tell us about? What is going to happen to half? Well, I can confirm that Rajavi has now left the airport, and is in a safe place in the city UNHCR is with her has been with her in the last couple of hours has been speaking with her, and we'll continue that conversation. This is our role we are determining her refugee status, and we will be looking to find some solution for Rafa. What is your understanding of what the problem is in her case? This is exactly what we're trying to assess and the details, of course, are confidential. So this UNHCR colleagues, which we call. We're calling for international protection officers well-trained and international refugee law based in Thailand, we'll be going through, you know, the details of her life with her asking her. You know, what happened? We why she made this decision to flee what she fears if she were to be returned and where she was headed establishing all the facts and also just to provide her some emotional reassurance. Now in this very distressing. I understand why you would want to respect the confidentiality, but quite loss of this is already in the public domain. She has been Tweety and she also spoke to this program yesterday. Absolutely. It's she spoke to the program. We we all heard the program. This has become a case that has won the hearts and minds of the world via social media. Also, a lot of outrage. Edge. But that one has to respect that it is extremely important that she has the right to seek asylum. And also to a confidential discussion with the UN agency that is has the authority to make this determination. Are you confident that the Thai authorities will abide by international law. We have been given assurances that she will not be. Sent back. They have said this publicly right now, she's been as I said move to a place that is safe and UNHCR colleagues will be with her, and we'll be speaking to her, and, you know, taking the time needed to assess her situation properly and to come up with some kind of solution for future explained forests water reform. More means a non rifle in the context of the international law as regards refugees. Well, this term non reform on is fundamental to international refugee protection, it is the centerpiece of the nineteen fifty one refugee convention, and is is embedded in international law. Basically what it means is if a person fears for their life, if they were to be returned to their home country that they cannot be returned under international. Law. So just in terms of a prime facie case, if this young woman has already publicly said that she fears for her life does that necessarily immediately mean that she has refugee status. In in this case, a process still has to be undergone. And that's what's happening right now, we urgently asked for us access the moment, we learned of her case colleagues went immediately to the airport and it took a while. But we're able to finally reach her. And this is what she asked for as well was to be connected with UNHCR the agency that does refugee protection on behalf of refugees seeking asylum in Thailand when you say it took a while what was guessing in the way of you reaching her. Well, you know, this is this is something that happens everywhere. People come to the airport ask for asylum. It takes some time to go through the different communication channels, the Thai authorities considered it for some time and eventually. We were given the green light to go and meet with her you heard while we were waiting to speak to you. What the Saudi authorities have said that her possible it was not confiscated, and they are their view is that the Thai authorities will send her back to Kuwait to her family is part of your job gathering evidence. And speaking to the Saudi authorities part of our job is to determine exactly what her situation is what her status is what her fears are. And you know, this is something that we will also be in communication with the title tie thirties about what's how much how much sway do you have over the Tirtha authorities? I mean, can you as a United Nations body stop the Thai authorities from sending Rahaf back to either Saudi Arabia or Kuwait, which is where she was with her family? All we can do as we do with every country in the. The world is remind them over and over again that non riffle Mont not returning people who are seeking asylum who fear for their lives back to the place where they face that danger is embedded in international law. We spoke to a friend of hers who has been in touch with her when she was barricaded in the hotel room who talked about how she had had to leave Saudi Arabia. I just wonder what you think this case tells us about the kingdom in particular. Look, this is an individual case this on the surface. You know, there could be there are many reasons that, but obviously she has said this has to do with her family and fears of repercussions of her actions that would be taken by her family. This is also in a legitimate reason for a person to to seek asylum. Melissa Fleming head of communications of the United Nations refugee agency joining us live. Thanks very much..