Two Saudi sisters say they are hiding in Hong Kong after being intercepted at Hong Kong airport by kingdom officials while fleeing their home. It is the latest case of women fleeing repression in Saudi Arabia.
Two sisters from Saudi Arabia have gone underground in Hong Kong after they were intercepted by Saudi officials at the country's airport en route for Australia, their lawyer says.
The pair wrote about their ordeal in a tweet on Thursday.
The two sisters, aged 20 and 18, who are going by the aliases of Reem and Rawan, said they fled to Hong Kong in September from a family holiday in Sri Lanka to escape alleged violent abuse.
"We fled our home to ensure our safety. We hope that we can be given asylum in a country which recognizes women's rights and treats them as equals," the pair said in a statement given out by their lawyer, Michael Vidler.
Vidler said the two women, who have renounced their Muslim faith — an act punishable by death in Saudi Arabia — were intercepted by Saudi officials during their stopover in Hong Kong, but managed to escape and enter the city as visitors, where they have changed locations 13 times for safety.
The sisters told Vidler that their connecting flight to Australia was canceled and that the officials had attempted to make them take a flight to the Saudi capital, Riyadh.
They say their passports have been invalidated, but that they are scared to go to the Saudi consulate in Hong Kong for fear of meeting the same fate as Saudi journalist and government critic Jamal Kashoggi, who was murdered at the kingdom's consulate in Istanbul.
Crown prince's visit
The Hong Kong Immigration Department has reportedly told them that they can only stay in the city until February 28.
The case echoes that of 18-year-old Saudi woman Rahaf Mohammed Alqunun, who gained refugee status in Canada last month after escaping from an allegedly abusive family to the Thai capital, Bangkok, where she initially barricaded herself in an airport hotel.
Reports of the women's plight also coincide with a visit by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to the Chinese capital, Beijing. Bin Salman has faced multiple accusations of being behind the murder of Kashoggi.
tj/rt (Reuters, AFP)