Her brilliant smile says: Free at last. She might otherwise be dead.
Look: Smiling Rahaf Mohammed al-Qunun, is with a welcoming and joyful Minister of Foreign Affairs, Chrystia Freeland, in Toronto, Canada.
Human rights defenders are heaping accolades on the Canadian team.
Original Photo credit: Carlos Osorio/Reuters. Photo cropped, retouched and arted to a Canada Flag background by Rosa Yamamoto, Feminine Perspective Magazine artist.
“Don’t let anyone break your wings, you’re free. Fight and get your RIGHTS!” is Ms. Rahaf’s Twitter mantra.
She did it. Two new Sheroes for 2019 step into the light.
Standing up to the worst human rights violators of women’s rights, Chrystia Freeland with Justin Trudeau have shown the world a better way for remedial action. Get the UN to declare the victim a refugee and the good people of decent countries will be a part of this important humanitarian action. #WithRefugees.
Extraordinary work of the United Nations High Commission for Refugees led to Ms. Qunun leaving the Bangkok airport in the care of the agency and Canada quickly issuing asylum and the extraordinary status of “resettled refugee“.
Trudeau & Freeland Deserve Highest Accolades for this Rescue
The UNHCR had issued a statement on 7 January, stating that: “The Thai authorities have granted UNHCR access to Saudi national, Rahaf Mohammed Al-Qunun, at Bangkok airport to assess her need for international refugee protection.”
It deemed that protection of the young adult was indeed required. Canada’s minister of Global Affairs sprang into action and the Prime Minister of Canada approved asylum in a heartbeat.
Rahaf Mohammed Mutlaq al-Qunun, is a very lucky young lady, born 11 March 2000, in Saudi Arabia. Her peril was real, say expert women who have been working on the Saudi Arabian Human Rights quagmire for the past five years.
She has arrived safely in Canada today at Lester B Pearson Airport in Toronto after a grueling and dramatic escape from Saudi Arabia where women are owned as chattels by at least one man under what human rights defenders have called an absurd guardianship program.
Expert: A heart wrenching experience likely leaves Ms. al-Qunun sad but safe. She has nine siblings she will surely miss.
“This is a very traumatic experience for Rahaf, no matter how buoyant she may seem right now”, notes Sharon Santiago, an expert in PTSD treatment.
The young woman managed to flee her abusive parents and dodge either an honour killing or forced marriage, says Abbasi who has been reaching out to family and friends for comment..
While visiting in Kuwait as the first week of 2019 ended she slipped away and made her way to Thailand enroute to Australia, telling the world what she was doing and why, with lightning-quick updates on social media.
In the ASEAN nation of Thailand, the drama continued. A series of scurrilous doings in Bangkok by an undercover Saudi agent resulted in this young refugee having her passport stolen and the Thai authorities inventing accusations against Ms. al-Qunun.
Thai sources from the immigration side of the Bangkok airport tell FPMag that the “Saudi agent caused confusion among officials because the young lady was without a passport.”
“The matter has ended well”, said the official who does not wish to be identified owing to her speaking without official permission. “It is out of Thai government responsibility, now,” she added, “and the girl is happy and safe.”
Social Media Blitz
According to Ms. al-Qunun’s exchanges in social media, her family had planned to kill her in what nurse Behar Abbasi, a Muslim in Yemen who has worked as a nurse and midwife under Sharia Law in both Mosul, Iraq and in Saudi Arabia, calls this threat an “honour killing” because as a child, the young woman had denounced Islam which is a crime in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA), says Abbasi.
For her choosing her own path of spirituality which for all persons is a human right, the death penalty awaited her.
Instead of facing such punishment, her father who is both a religious and political figurehead in al-Sulaimi, in the Ha’il Region of Saudi Arabia, had arranged a forced marriage to a man thought to be a devoted adherent to Sharia Law.
“Despite it being a woman’s private matter, Saudi Arabia’s violently abusive patriarch insists on male control of women to the point of quasi-ownership”, noted Abbasi, who made several attempts to contact the family of the proposed husband but was rejected somewhat emphatically.
There are thousands of human rights cases in the KSA
Dozens of women are being held in violently abusive detainment in Saudi Arabia.
According to Katie Alsop of The RINJ Foundation, the women’s civil society group has made numerous presentations to the Saudi government seeking the release of women prisoners whose arrest has been apparently caused by their driving a car or their being outspoken in social media. Numerous male human rights activists and journalists have also been detained without due process and are being grossly mistreated in prison.
“It would be far better for the House of Saud to make the necessary changes to public policy and allow for Saudi Arabian people to have their due rights and safety than it would be to have a complete insurrection and overthrow of the Saudi Crown dictators,” said Alsop in a brief exchange on the matter of RINJ demands for the release of human rights defenders.
Persons RINJ Demands be released by Saudi Arabia:
- Abdullah Al Malki, academic and citizen-journalist
- Abdulaziz Meshaal
- Alaa Brinji, journalist for Al-Sharq, El Bilad and Okaz
- *Aisha al-Mana, female human rights defender, director of the Al-Mana General Hospitals and the Mohammad al-Mana College of Health Sciences. She is a feminist who has participated both in demonstrations against the ban on women driving in Saudi Arabia and in the anti male-guardianship campaign. The RINJ Foundation wants charges dropped for this woman. She has been released mid year.
- Ali Al Omari, founder of the 4Shabab TV channel
- Aziza al-Yousef, female human rights defender
- Eman al Nafjan, women’s rights activist, founder of the Saudi Woman blog is a school teacher and later a university teaching assistant. She earned a master’s degree in teaching English as a foreign language from the University of Birmingham in the United Kingdom. She then taught pre-med English at a university. She was working towards a PhD in linguistics. She was detained by Saudi authorities in May 2018
- Essam Al Zamil, economist and citizen-journalist
- Fadhel al Manafes, a citizen-journalist and human rights defender
- Hatoon al-Fassi was an associate professor of women’s history at King Saud University in Saudi Arabia, where she was employed since 1989 and at the International Affairs Department at Qatar University. Al-Fassi claims from her research into the pre-Islamic Arabian kingdom of Nabataea that women in the kingdom had more independence than women in modern Saudi Arabia. She was arrested in June 2018 for believing this.
- Ibrahim al-Modaimeegh
- Israa al-Ghomgham, human rights defender, columnist, citizen journalist, blogger
- Jamil Farsi, businessman and columnist for several Saudi newspapers, including Okaz; much followed on Twitter
- Loujain al-Hathloul, female human rights defender
- *Madeha al-Ajroush, female human rights defender took part in the first protests by Saudi women against the ban on women driving. The RINJ Foundation wants charges dropped for this woman. She has been released mid year.
- Malek al Ahmad, editor of several media outlets, founder of Al Mohayed (“The Neutral One“)
- Mayya al-Zahrani was reportedly arrested on Saturday, hours after posting comments online on the arrest of fellow activist Nouf Abdulaziz
- Mohammed Saud al Bishar, reporter and columnist, including for the Saudi newspaper Twasul
- Nassema al Sadah, women’s rights activist and columnist
- Nazir al Majid, writer and journalist for various media including Al Hayat et Al Sharq
- Nouf Abdelaziz al Jerawi, journalist, blogger and activist
- Raif Badawi, blogger, founder of the Saudi Liberal Network (an online forum)
- Saleh al Shehi, journalist with Al Watan
- Samar Badawi, is an extraordinary and internationally recognized human rights defender. She was arrested by the Saudi authorities again. Canada’s request for her immediate release sparked a major diplomatic dispute between Canada and Saudi Arabia.
- Salman al Awdah, reformist preacher and blogger with many followers
- Waleed Abu al Khair, founder of the Monitor of Human Rights in Saudi Arabia
Footnote: *Madeha al-Ajroush and *Aisha al-Mana have since May 18 been released from prison but with charges pending. The RINJ Foundation keeps these names on the list and is insisting that all charges be rescinded.
According to The Independent, the arrests of Madeha al-Ajroush and Aisha al-Mana and three other women, came “just six weeks before Saudi Arabia was due to lift the world’s only ban on women driving“.
Saudi Arabia is Forcing Civil Society to Action
The RINJ Foundation, according to Sharon Santiago, a regional director, will seek a remedy by any legal and extra-legal actions that are available to obtain the release of additional human rights defenders known to the persons in the above list to have been captured and held prisoner.
She said, “We don’t know exactly what goes on in these dark places but have been told the numbers of human rights defenders withering away in the darkness of inhumanity is shocking.”
Israa al-Ghomgham and her peers are Political Prisoners.
Political Prisoner Loujain al-Hathloul was said to be the most influential human rights defenders in Saudi Arabia. Loujain’s health and safety are now under morbid threat.
Sources says she is being raped and beaten by her jailers.
Authoritarians or Dictators Who Create Violence Against Females
- President of Afghanistan, Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai
- President of Angola, João Lourenço
- President of Azerbaijan, Ilham Aliyev
- King of Bahrain, Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa
- President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko
- Sultan of Brunei, His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu’izzaddin Waddaulah
- President of Burundi, Pierre Nkurunziza
- President of Cameroon, Paul Biya
- President of Comoros Azali Assoumani
- President of the Central African Republic, Faustin Archange Touadera Central African Republic
- President of Chad, Idriss Deby
- President of China, Xi Jinping, (elected on Nov 15, 2012)
- President of the Republic of Congo, Joseph Kabila
- Prime Minister of Cambodia, Hun Sen
- President of Congo, (Brazzaville) Denis Sassou Nguesso
- President Côte d’Ivoire, Alassane Ouattara
- President of Cuba, Raul Castro
- President of Equatorial Guinea, Teodoro Mbasogo
- President of Eritrea, Isaias Afwerki
- Prime Minister of Ethiopia, Hailemariam Desalegn
- President of Gabon, Albert-Bernard Bongo
- President of Guinea-Bissau, José Mário Vaz
- President of Iran, Hassan Rouhani
- President of Iraq, (since Jul 24, 2014) Muhammad Fuad Masum
- King of Jordan, Abdullah II bin Al-Hussein
- President of Kazakhstan, Nursultan Nazarbaev
- President of Laos, Bounnhang Vorachith
- President of Libya, (since Aug 4, 2014) Nouri Abusahmain
- President of Mauritania, Mohamed AZIZ
- President of Myanmar (Burma) Win Myint
- President of Niger Mahamadou Issoufou
- ‘Leader’ of North Korea (DPRK), Kim Jong-un
- Sultan of Oman, Qaboos bin Said Al-Said
- President of South Sudan, Salva Kiir Mayardit
- President of the Philippines, Rodrigo Duterte
- Emir of Qatar, Tamim Al Thani
- President of Russia, Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin, (Re-elected on Mar 4, 2012. Took office on May 7, 2012)
- President of Rwanda, Paul Kagame
- King of Saudi Arabia, Abdullah Aziz Al Saud
- President of Somalia, Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed
- Prime Minister of Singapore, Lee Hsien Loong
- President of The Sudan, (since Jun 30, 1989) Omar Al-Bashir
- King of Swaziland, Mswati III
- Bashar al-Assad, President of Syria (re-elected on Jun 6, 2014)
- President of Tajikistan, Emomalii Rahmon
- Prime Minister of Thailand, (since military coup May 22, 2014) Prayut Chan-o-cha
- Chairman of Tibet, Losang Jamcan
- Prime Minister of Turkey, Recep Erdogan
- President of Turkmenistan, (Re-elected on Feb 12, 2012) Gurbanguly Berdimuhammedow
- President of the United Arab Emirates, Sheikh Khalifa Nahyan
- President of Uzbekistan, Shavkat Mirziyoyev
- President of the United States, Donald John Trump
- President of Venezuela, Nicolás Maduro
- President of Vietnam, Tran Dai Quang
- President of Western Sahara, Brahim Ghali
- President of Yemen, (Elected on Feb 21, 2012 but usurped in 2015) Abd Al-Hadi
- President of Zimbabwe, Emmerson Mnangagwa
*You are welcome to comment, criticize or update.
Women’s Rights are Human Rights
Article# | Rights
1 Right to Equality
2 Freedom from Discrimination
3 Right to Life, Liberty, Personal Security
4 Freedom from Slavery
5 Freedom from Torture and Degrading Treatment
6 Right to Recognition as a Person before the Law
7 Right to Equality before the Law
8 Right to Remedy by Competent Tribunal
9 Freedom from Arbitrary Arrest and Exile
10 Right to Fair Public Hearing
11 Right to be Considered Innocent until Proven Guilty
12 Freedom from Interference with Privacy, Family, Home and Correspondence
13 Right to Free Movement in and out of the Country
14 Right to Asylum in other Countries from Persecution
15 Right to a Nationality and the Freedom to Change It
16 Right to Marriage and Family
17 Right to Own Property
18 Freedom of Belief and Religion
19 Freedom of Opinion and Information
20 Right of Peaceful Assembly and Association
21 Right to Participate in Government and in Free Elections
22 Right to Social Security
23 Right to Desirable Work and to Join Trade Unions
24 Right to Rest and Leisure
25 Right to Adequate Living Standard
26 Right to Education
27 Right to Participate in the Cultural Life of Community
28 Right to a Social Order that Articulates this Document
29 Community Duties Essential to Free and Full Development
30 Freedom from State or Personal Interference in the above Rights