Activists have expressed concern after a Saudi woman claiming she sought asylum in Australia was stopped on a layover in the Philippines and returned to Riyadh yesterday.
Dina Ali Lasloom said in self-recorded videos the Philippine authorities had held her at Manila airport and confiscated her passport. The videos circulated widely on social media over the last two days.
“My name is Dina Ali and I’m a Saudi woman who fled Saudi Arabia to Australia to seek asylum,” she said in one video, adding she feared violence from any relatives who came to bring her back home.
“Please help me. I’m recording this video to help me and know that I’m real and I’m here.”
The woman did not say why she sought refuge abroad however there have been reports that she had fled abuse at the hands of her family.
The Saudi embassy in Manila issued a statement yesterday calling the case a “family matter” and added without elaborating that she had “returned with her relatives to the homeland”.
However eyewitnesses in Manila airport said Ali warned officials that if they sent her back to Saudi with her uncles, who had come to collect her, she would be “killed”.
Canadian Meagan Khan, who befriended Ali at the airport, posted on Facebook:
Dina told the airport workers that she was in danger the entire time. Several times she cried hysterically to them that she needed help. They ignored her. I saw myself they looked at her like she didn’t exist… She said she’s in danger and her uncles are coming to kill her and she needs to get to Australia.
When Khan asked airport staff why Ali’s passport had been confiscated and why her flight had been delayed, they replied: “They told me that they didn’t know more other than an important person called and told them to hold her documents and don’t allow her to leave.”
Saudi activists said Ali was forced onto a Saudi Arabia Airlines flight from Manila to Riyadh on Tuesday night.
She did not emerge at King Khalid International Airport in Riyadh after the flight landed early yesterday morning, but multiple passengers told Reuters they had seen a woman being carried onto the plane screaming.
“I heard a lady screaming from upstairs. Then I saw two or three men carrying her. They weren’t Filipino. They looked Arab,” said one Filipino woman, who declined to give her name.