A Saudi woman attempting to flee from her “abusive” family and seek asylum in Australia has reportedly been forcibly returned to Riyadh after being gagged, tied with duct tape and wrapped in a sheet by two uncles while on a stopover in the Philippines.
Dina Ali Lasloom, 24, a Saudi national currently living in Kuwait, landed in Manila in the early hours of Monday morning, on a routine layover en route to Sydney, where she claims she intended to claim asylum. She says she had secretly obtained a tourist visa, seen by The Australian, from the Australian embassy in Kuwait. Saudi women are not allowed to travel without approval from their male guardian, and Saudi embassies are known to assist families in tracking down women who have fled abroad.
After Ms Lasloom’s arrival, she claims her passport, boarding pass and travel documents were confiscated by Philippines Airlines staff and she was told that “someone important” had instructed them not to allow her to board her 11am flight to Sydney.
A Twitter feed apparently set up in her name has laid out the claims she made about her ordeal and posted pictures of her boarding pass.
“They took me and locked me up for thirteen hours, just because I’m a Saudi woman, with the co-operation of the Saudi embassy,” Ms Lasloom claimed in a video sent to a Saudi activist and posted online. “If my family come, they will kill me. If I go back to Saudi Arabia, I will be dead. Please help me. The Philippines government and Saudi are violating human rights and international law. I am kept here as a criminal, I can’t do anything, I can’t go out.”
It is unclear why the young woman feared being killed if she was forced to return to Saudi Arabia. She told Meagan Khan, a Canadian tourist who came to her aid at the airport, that “her family, her uncles, are very strict, and abusive to her, so she ran away.”
“She told me she was a teacher, she said ‘they forced me to become a teacher or be a slave’. She is not allowed to leave the house without a guy at all,” a distressed Ms Khan told The Australian after landing in Bali.
On Monday afternoon, two men who Ms Lasloom identified as her Saudi uncles, whom she described as diplomats and who were accompanied by a woman from the Kuwaiti embassy, approached Ms Lasloom and Ms Khan. “Her face just collapsed and she said ‘they’re here Meagan!’ As soon as she saw them her eyes started swelling up with tears,” said Ms Khan, who lent Ms Lasloon her phone to put her posts up on Twitter.
Read More: theaustralian