Two Saudi sisters are pleading for asylum, saying they are trapped in the former Soviet republic of Georgia after fleeing their country. This is the latest case of runaways from the conservative kingdom, posting appeals on social media.
Using a newly-created Twitter account called “GeorgiaSisters”, they identified themselves as Maha al-Subaie, 28, and Wafa al-Subaie, 25.
In a video posted on Twitter, Maha says: “We want your protection. We want a country that welcomes us and protects our rights.”
The sisters claim “they fled oppression from our family because the laws in Saudi Arabia is too week [sic] to protect us” and say they are in danger.
They say their father and brothers have arrived in Georgia looking for them.
They have posted photos of themselves on Twitter so that “if something happened to us people would remember us”.
The Twitter account has since been made private and the tweets are not publicly accessible.
They asked for protection from the United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR). They say the Saudi government has suspended their passports, trapping them in Georgia.
Saudi sisters Maha and Wafa are stranded in Georgia. They are being followed and threatened by their family and Saudi officials. They need help getting somewhere safe. https://t.co/Brxp2uHRe0
— Ms Saffaa (@MsSaffaa) April 17, 2019
The young women, who go by the aliases Reem and Rawan, left Hong Kong for a new country of residence, which has not been named.
Lawyer Michael Vidler said in a statement that the sisters, aged 18 and 20, were granted emergency humanitarian visas after six months in Hong Kong. Vidler said the two are now “beginning their lives as free young women”.
The sisters say they were escaping alleged abuse by their male relatives, according to Amnesty International. They claim they escaped while on a family trip in Sri Lanka, intending to seek asylum in Australia but were intercepted at Hong Kong airport by Saudi officials and subsequently went into hiding.
In January, an 18-year-old Saudi woman, Rahaf al-Qunun, was granted asylum in Canada after using Twitter to garner worldwide attention from a hotel room in Bangkok.