Topless Protesters 'Over The Moon' As Saudi Woman Rahaf Al-Qunun Heads To Canada
Activists who took to the streets of Sydney urging the government to resettle an 18-year-old Saudi woman are "over the moon" she has been granted asylum in Canada.
Rahaf Al-Qunun boarded a flight from Bangkok to Seoul late on Friday night ahead of a connecting flight to Canada, Thailand's immigration police chief Surachate Hakparn said.
He said the UN refugee agency coordinated with Canadian authorities to resettle her there, where she will be under the care of the International Organisation for Migration.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) had asked Canada to take in Al-Qunun.
“Canada is a country that understands how important it is to stand up for human rights, to stand up for women’s rights around the world, and I can confirm that we have accepted the U.N.’s request,” he said.
Jacquie Love, protest organiser and founder of the Secret Sisterhood group who stood topless in Sydney's Martin Place on Thursday in support of the teenager, told 10 daily she was "over the moon" after hearing the news.
"We assumed it was Australia when we first heard," she said.
"It doesn't matter where she resettles, as long as it's in a country where she is safe."
In a statement on Saturday, Minister for Immigration, Citizenship and Multicultural Affairs David Coleman said her case was "progressing" at the time of the UNHCR's referral to Canada.
"The safety of Ms Al-Qunun has always been the Australian Government’s primary concern, and we have been working with the UNHCR and international partners to ensure her claim is assessed appropriately," he said.
"We wish Al-Qunun all the best for her future in Canada."
Hakparn told reporters it was the 18-year-old's wish to resettle in Canada.
"She chose Canada. It's her personal decision," he said.
Al-Qunun was detained by Saudi officials at a Bangkok airport this week after flying from Kuwait, as she sought to reach Australia to seek asylum.
When she arrived in Thailand, she claimed she was met by a Saudi diplomat who forcibly confiscated her passport. She said had been confined inside a hotel room at the airport, under the guard of men she said were from the Saudi embassy and Kuwait airlines.
The teenager has claimed she is fleeing psychological and physical violence at the hands of male members of her family.
She has also denounced Islam and cut her hair. Alqunun claims her life would be in grave danger if she were returned to Saudi Arabia and her family would kill her.
Love said the outcome is a "massive win for women's rights".
"This sends a message to the world that women shouldn't have to put up with being repressed," she said.
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