Friday, April 19, 2019


"We are two Saudi sisters who fled from Saudi Arabia seeking asylum.Yet, the family and the Saudi government have suspended our passports and now we are trapped in Georgia country. We need your help please."
"We want your protection. We want a country that welcomes us and protects our rights."
"We fled oppression from our family because the laws in Saudi Arabia [are] too weak to protect us. We are seeking the UNHCR protection in order to be taken to a safe country."
Maha al-Subaie, 28, Wafa al-Subaie, 25
Maha and Wafa al-Subaie appealed for help Wednesday after fleeing Saudi Arbia, the latest runaways from the ultra-conservative kingdom to use social media to seek asylum.  Twitter

In Saudi Arabia women are protesting the Kingdom's system of oppression of women under Wahhabi sharia laws. A baker's dozen of rights activist shave been detained, some of them for up to a year, for campaigning against the Saudi guardianship system. Their efforts to create shelters for women runaways have gained them notoriety as much for stating that current shelters operate similarly to detention centres as for insisting that women know what's best for women.

In January 18-year-old Rahaf Mohammed al-Qunun barricaded herself at an airport hotel in her room in Bangkok. She had fled her Saudi family during a family trip to Kuwait. And her pleas on social media brought instant global attention and sympathy. That reaction saw UNHCR responding with alacrity to grant her recognition as an asylum seeker. A flurry of media activity and behind-the-scenes diplomacy took place and she was finally given haven to begin a new life in Canada.

Her success has spurred other Saudi women to make similar attempts to escape the confines of the Kingdom and the stifling oppressive control of sharia, supported by parents whose idea of daughterly fidelity is to obey father, brother, uncle, male cousins, to never venture outside the home other than in the company of a male guardian, to be properly attired head to foot, to require male permission to travel, to marry, to obtain a passport, to open a bank account.

The two Saudi sisters sought initial haven in Georgia, claiming to be in danger, their lives threatened should they be forcibly returned to Saudi Arabia. Their father and brothers are looking for them in Georgia, goes their desperate appeal. Saudis require no visa to enter Georgia, using the country as a transit point to elsewhere where women escape abusive male relatives, claiming few choices are available to them in Saudi Arabia.

Where women are considered fugitives fleeing abusive relationships; when they are caught are forced into restrictive shelters where they are placed under pressure to reconcile with abusers or be detained on charges of disobedience. The male guardianship laws triumph. In one post, the sisters show themselves with faces bare, hair uncovered, restrictively taboo in Saudi Arabia.

They want, they said in the post, for the world to "remember us", should something untoward occur to them. Their case is being monitored by the UNHCR which has not yet committed to any course of action. As a party to the 1951 Refugee Convention, where people requesting international protection in a country have access to asylum procedures, Georgia is held to the convention and UNHCR provides legal representation.

Labels: ,

Follow @rheytah Tweet