TBILISI: Two Saudi sisters took to Twitter on Wednesday to plead for international protection and a safe haven, saying their lives would be at risk if they went back to the conservative kingdom.

The women, in their 20s, said they had arrived in the former Soviet republic of Georgia and needed help from the international community to find a new country to call home.

“We are in danger. We need your support to deliver our voice. We want protection. We want a country ... [that] welcomes us and protects our rights. Please help us,” the pair wrote on a shared Twitter account named Georgia­Sisters.

The sisters, who identified themselves as Maha al-Subaie, 28, and Wafa al-Subaie, 25, posting photos of their passports online, said they were seeking protection from the United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR).

They initially said they had become stranded in Georgia after the Saudi government suspended their passports and that members of their family had come looking for them, but later retracted this version of events. “We are confused,” they wrote. “We are terrified as [we’ve] never been before. Been crying all the time not knowing what’s next. We do not feel safe,” they said in a tweet that was later cancelled.

Georgia’s interior ministry said the sisters had not asked for asylum or any help.

UNHCR in Georgia said it was monitoring the situation closely and confirmed the sisters were in the country. The Saudi embassy in Tbilisi did not immediately reply to a request for comment.

Earlier this year, a Saudi teen who had holed up in a Thai airport hotel to escape her family won asylum in Canada.

Hearing postponed

Separately on Wednesday, a Saudi court postponed a hearing in the trial of several women rights activists who had campaigned for the right to drive and an end to the guardianship system. Shortly after their campaign, the kingdom got rid of the driving ban in a move that won positive headlines worldwide.

Published in Dawn, April 18th, 2019