Rahaf al-Qunun flying to Canada in asylum bid

Rahaf Mohammed Al Qunun is currently in the care of United Nations officials

Rahaf Mohammed Al Qunun is currently in the care of United Nations officials

The 18-year-old was stopped at a Bangkok airport on Saturday by Thai immigration police who denied her entry and seized her passport.

"She needs to be protected from those who want to murder her, and should promptly be given asylum in Australia", the commentary said.

"Mr al-Araibi was granted permanent residency by the Australian government in recognition of his status as a refugee", Payne said in a statement before her departure.

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 previous year after arriving for his honeymoon.

Human Rights Watch deputy Asia director Phil Robertson commended Thailand in their decision not to send al-Qunun back to Saudi Arabia.

Alqunun was detained by Saudi officials at a Bangkok airport after flying from Kuwait, as she sought to reach Australia to seek asylum.

She barricaded herself in an airport hotel room and launched a social media campaign that drew global attention to her case.

Sarah Dale - the principal solicitor for the Sydney-based Refugee Advice and Casework Service, which, in the last year, helped 3,300 refugees - said many of her clients have waited months and years while the wheels of justice ground slowly. Al-Araibi, however, faces a court trial in Thailand for extradition as requested by Bahrain for his role in anti-government protests.

"Hakeem will not be safe until he is back home in Australia".

Araibi's lawyer Nadthasiri Bergman says he has "held up very well" in detention.

Such a visa would allow Ms Alqunun to stay permanently in Australia and have the right to work and study.

"It would be a pretty stunning reversal if they didn't take her", he said. "If it's in Thai, it will take about two weeks; in English or any other language it's even longer".

Payne reiterated Australia's call to Thailand not to send al-Araibi back to Bahrain.

"I think the most important thing is a young woman in these very very hard circumstances is supported appropriately through the United Nations processes and that countries like Australia who are in a position potentially to provide her with support are able to work from that point once those are finalised and determine what the next steps are", Ms Payne said.

According to HRW's Pearson, Thailand has a record of working with authoritarian governments to return citizens who are at risk in those countries.

"[The] cause and reasoning [of both cases] are entirely different", she said. "I believe they have also done so in the past with Bahrain".

"It's been wonderful to see the football community respond to Hakeem's situation and continue to advocate for one of their own", John Didulica, chief executive officer of Professional Footballers Australia, said in a video posted on social media.

After commending FIFA, soccer's world governing body, and Australia's Football Federation for supporting al-Araibi's release, Foster criticized the Asian Football Confederation and its head, Salman al-Khalifa.

Graham Thom, refugee coordinator at Amnesty International Australia, said the spotlight was not just on Bangkok, but on Asean, which Thailand was set to become chair of this year.

A similar point was made by UNHCR spokesman Babar Baloch, who said that what was different in Alqunun's case was that "the wave of all of the voices of solidarity and support came together, joined up in terms of caring for this individual".

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