A group of young feminists staged a topless protest in Sydney’s CBD this morning to demand a Saudi teenage refugee be given asylum in Australia.
Rahaf Mohammed al-Qunun, 18, flew to Bangkok last week saying she feared her family would kill her after she renounced Islam and ‘rebelled’ against her father.
The Australian government yesterday said it is considering granting her asylum, sparking a group called Secret Sisterhood to stage a naked protest to support her.
Demonstration: A group of young feminists staged a topless protest in Sydney’s CBD this morning to demand a Saudi teenage refugee be given asylum in Australia
They posted on social media a video of their protest in Martin Place in which they stood topless with signs reading ‘let her in’.
The group also set up a fundraising page for the teenager which had raised more than $3,000 by this morning.
The page read: ‘Rahaf Alqunun, still a teen at 18 years old, has demonstrated a huge amount of courage fleeing from her country and her family in Saudi Arabia.
‘As a global Secret Sisterhood, we will look after her once she arrives safely, but we need help to make sure she has resettlement and protection funds. Because her story has gained worldwide attention these funds are needed for her to set up safely in a new country.’
Last night, Ms al-Qunun reacted with joy the news of possible asylum, writing on Twitter: ‘Is it true??? Australia wants me to go there??? I’m so happy.’
Rahaf Mohammed al-Qunun (pictured) has reacted to news Australia is considering granting her asylum, saying, ‘Is it true??? Australia wants me to go there??? I’m so happy’
Ms al-Qunun, pictured at Bangkok airport, ran away from a family trip to Kuwait last week and flew to Thailand in the hope of reaching Australia on a tourist visa
The 18-year-old was detained in Thailand following her arrival in the country. She is pictured having barricaded herself in an airport hotel room in a bid to avoid deportation
The 18-year-old’s message was accompanied by a series of emojis, including praying hands, a smiley face and a dancing woman.
Australia’s Department of Home Affairs revealed on Wednesday it will consider Ms al-Qunun referral from the UN, which ruled she was a refugee.
‘The UNHCR has referred Ms Rahaf Mohammed al-Qunun to Australia for consideration for refugee resettlement,’ a statement from the department said.
‘The Department of Home Affairs will consider this referral in the usual way, as it does with all UNHCR referrals.’
Ms al-Qunun will be subject to Australian checks before she is granted a humanitarian visa, including character and security assessments.
But Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton said al-Qunun will not be given any ‘special treatment’.
‘Nobody wants to see a young girl in distress and she has obviously now found a safe haven in Thailand,’ Mr Dutton said.
Ms al-Qunun (pictured) claims her family would kill her if she were sent home to Saudi Arabia, where she has renounced Islam and ‘rebelled’ against her father
Ms al-Qunun’s defiant message after her ordeal in Bangkok airport was to ‘fight and get your rights’
The Saudi teenager posted the caption ‘Hey.. I’m happy’, alongside a smiling selfie on her Twitter account after the United Nations ruled she was a refugee
Ms al-Qunun remains in Thailand after she ran away from a family trip to Kuwait last week and flew to Bangkok in the hope of reaching Australia on a tourist visa.
She barricaded herself in a Bangkok airport hotel room with a table and mattress on Saturday after she was barred from entering Thailand and the Thai government threatened to deport her back to Kuwait.
Ms al-Qunun is currently in the care of UN officials and under the protection of Thai police.
She has claimed her family would kill her if she were sent home to Saudi Arabia, where she has renounced Islam and ‘rebelled’ against her father.
She took to Twitter to post updates on her detention in an appeal for help from international authorities.
Her father and brother arrived in Bangkok on Wednesday, but Ms al-Qunun refused to meet them.
Ms al-Qunun’s father denied ever physically abusing her, Thai immigration chief General Surachate Hakparn told reporters.
Ms al-Qunun will be subject to Australian checks before she is granted a humanitarian visa, including character and security assessments
Ms al-Qunun is currently in the care of UN officials and under the protection of Thai police
‘He said that he has been taking good care of his daughter, he never forced her or hurt her. He said that in Saudia Arabia there is an agency that enforces the law [against abuse], and he certainly couldn’t do anything illegal,’ General Surachate said.
‘He has 10 children. He said the daughter might feel neglected sometimes. But he didn’t go into detail.’
When the United Nations ruled Ms al-Qunun is officially a refugee, she posted a selfie on Twitter with the caption, ‘Hey… I’m happy’, alongside a heart and praying hands emoji.
She then added in a separate post: ‘Don’t let anyone break your wings, you’re free. fight and get your RIGHTS!’, followed by a post in Arabic which read, ‘I made it’.