• GIDHR meets with Australian Foreign Ministry officials
    March 20,2019
  • JOINT STATEMENT FROM HAKEEM AL-ARAIBI, AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL AUSTRALIA AND THE GULF INSTITUTE
    March 19,2019
    19 March 2019


    HAKEEM AL-ARAIBI SHOCKED AND DISAPPOINTED AT FFA’S CONTINUED SUPPORT OF SHEIKH SALMAN


    Football Federation Australia must explain why it is supporting Bahrain’s Sheikh Salman bin Al-Khalifa for reelection as AFC President, despite the very serious unresolved human rights allegations that continue to hang over his head, says Hakeem al-Araibi and the human rights organisations who worked to bring him home.  


    Al-Araibi, who was himself detained and tortured in Bahrain said, “I was overwhelmed by the support I had from the Australian and Asian football communities who worked so hard to free me from unjust detention in Thailand. Today I am shocked and disappointed that the FFA has decided to continue to support a person who oversaw my detention and torture in Bahrain. How can he be a ‘fit and proper’ leader for football in our region?


    “The head of the FFA, Chris Nikou must address these concerns and ask serious questions about how they do not breach FFAs own human rights policy.” 


    The Gulf Institute for Democracy and Human Rights (GIDHR), Amnesty International Australia and Human Rights Watch all campaigned to return Hakeem to Australia and are calling for the FFA to be accountable for its decision. 


    “Sheikh Salman has been linked to serious human rights abuses in Bahrain, including the imprisonment and torture of Hakeem Al-Araibi, which FIFA has failed to address,” Amnesty International Australia’s Tim O’Connor said.


    “Rather than address these issues, they have chosen to prioritise financial growth over standing up for what’s right.”


    Fatima Yazbek from the Gulf Institute for Democracy and Human Rights said: “The candidacy of Sheikh Salman to be reelected as AFC President is a breach to the AFC statues itself, as Article 3 clearly states that AFC shall protect and promote all human rights, prohibits and punishes discrimination of any kind. 


    “Sheikh Salman is convicted of being involved in targeting the Bahraini athletes in 2011, defaming, insulting, and arbitrarily banning them from playing over expressing their political opinions and demanding their rights peacefully. Sheikh Salman failed to protect Hakeem Al-Araibi's human rights when refused to advocate for his release and was involved in targeting Al-Araibi.

     

    “FFA's statement was shocking, that they slammed all the efforts of the Australian community, which advocated for Al-Araibi's freedom, and all the human rights commitments, and chosen to prioritise their own benefits.”

     

    Background


    Sheikh Salman, a member of the Bahraini royal family, failed to seek the release of Hakeem Al-Araibi when he was detained in Thailand when an illegal Interpol red notice was issued for his arrest at the behest of the Bahraini authorities.


    According to reports, in 2011 Sheikh Salman headed up a committee to round up athletes who had protested against the Bahraini regime.


    //ENDS//


    For further information and for media interviews, please contact Amnesty International Media on 0423 552 208.


    The Gulf Institute for Democracy and Human Rights on 0421 237 922.
  • GIDHR meets Andrew Giles MP
    March 07,2019
  • GIDHR is preparing to launch a campaign to stop selling Australian arms to Saudi Arabia & UAE
    March 05,2019
    A delegation of the Gulf Institute for Democracy and Human Rights (GIDHR) met the MP Peter Khalil, today (Tuesday 5th March 2019).

    They discussed selling Australian arms to Saudi Arabia and United Arabic Emirates, and using it to target the Yemeni civilians, and the role of the Australian government in this case. The MP welcomed the cooperation with GIDHR, within the accessible means, trying to reach a solution that guarantees protecting the civilians in Yemen.

    Moreover, they discussed some suggestions which may lead to the desired conclusion, including GIDHR launching a campaign calling to halt selling arms to Saudi Arabia and the UAE until they respect human rights and enhance their human rights records.

    At the end of the meeting, GIDHR handed Khalil a trophy in recognition of his remarkable role in the case of the footballer Hakeem AlAraibi, and his participation in the successful campaign #SaveHakeem.
  • Gulf Institute honors some Australian personalities who have adopted the case of Hakeem Alaraibi
    February 22,2019
  • ABC: Hakeem al-Araibi's return to Australia after Thai prison release a victory for sport and human rights
    February 13,2019
  • ABC: Hakeem Al-Araibi's last words before leaving Thailand
    February 12,2019
    Yahya Al-Hadeed, director of Gulf Institute for Democracy and Human Rights told SBS Arabic24 the support of the Australian people helped him stand firm during his 2-month imprisonment in Bangkok. 

    Source:
  • AlJazeera: 'A victory!': Jubilation as freed footballer returns to Australia
    February 12,2019

    Friends, family and campaigners are celebrating Hakeem al-Araibi'sreturn home to the Australian city of Melbourne after Thailand freed the refugee footballer who had been held since November on an extradition request from Bahrain.

    After his flight touched down at Melbourne Airport on Tuesday afternoon, al-Araibi was met by hundreds of supporters, including members of his football club Pascoe Vale and the Bahraini community in Australia.

    Some sang "You'll Never Walk Alone" as they waited.

    "I want to thank to Australia. Amazing to see all the Australian people, the media that supported me," the 25-year-old told reporters at the airport.

    "I will be more strong for this country," he said. "Australia is my country."

    His return marks the culmination of an international campaign by prominent footballers, human rights groups and the Australian government to halt his extradition to Bahrain, where he feared he would be tortured.

    "It is not possible to thank everyone involved because this campaign was not about one, or two or a handful, it was about hundreds of thousands of people and organisations of conscience worldwide who decided that goodness and compassion would trump evil," Craig Foster, who once played football for Australia and is now the face of the #SaveHakeem campaign, in a statement.

    "We fought for one soul because Hakeem represented everyone who suffers under tyranny and, through him, we hope to build a better world," Foster added.

    'A victory'

    Yassin, a close friend of al-Araibi's in the Bahraini-Australian community who prefers not to reveal his name for fear of repercussions in Bahrain, said he was delighted that the footballer, whom he considers an "older brother, had been released.

    "It's a victory for us," he told Al Jazeera. "This is the best news I've heard so far."

    Yassin recalled a conversation the two had had while his friend was detained and facing the threat of years behind bars.

    "He was a bit happy [in the sense] that he showed the world the cruel reality of this government," Yassin added, quoting Hakeem: "I might have sparked something that will trigger a change."

    Al-Araibi, who fled Bahrain in 2014 and had been recognised as a refugee in Australia, was arrested by Thai authorities in November when he arrived in the country for his honeymoon, at the request of the Gulf state. He had been found guilty of vandalism in his absence and given a 10-year prison term despite the fact he had been playing a football match at the time of the alleged crime.

    "I'm so excited, so happy. We are all speechless," Fatima Yazbek, a spokeswoman for the Australia-based Gulf Institute for Democracy and Human Rights. "It's incredible to see Hakeem released and free after all the struggle."

    Yazbek thanked all those who had taken part in the campaign to free the footballer, including Australia's Foreign Minister Marise Payne. "She was working very hard for him," she said.

    Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison took to Twitter to "thank all Australians for their support".

    "We are grateful to the Thai government and thank them for the way they have engaged with us to enable Hakeem to return to Australia. We have also appreciated the constructive dialogue we’ve had with Bahrain to resolve this," he wrote, echoing similar statements by other state officials.

    'Guilty verdict'

    Amid the jubilation at Hakeem's freedom, Bahrain insisted that it stood by the decision of its own court in al-Araibi's case.

    "The guilty verdict against Mr. Al Araibi remains in place," Bahrain's foreign ministry said in a statement. "The Kingdom of Bahrain reaffirms its right to pursue all necessary legal actions."

    Al-Araibi was once a member of Bahrain's national football team but was jailed in November 2012 when he says he was subjected to torture. After he had fled to Australia, al-Araibi was put on trial in his absence and found guilty of attacking a police station in a case Amnesty described as unfair. His brother is currently in prison having been found guilty of the same charge.

    "This was a baseless and cynical extradition request from the Bahraini authorities, who wanted to punish Hakeem for his peaceful political views," Minar Pimple, Amnesty International's senior director of global operations, said in a statement. "Hakeem spent more than two months behind bars in Thailand when he should not have been detained for a single second."

    FIFA, football's governing body, said it was "extremely pleased" with the decision to allow al-Araibi to return home, and to the "relevant public authorities for doing the right thing and bringing Hakeem’s ordeal to an end".

    Australian football said it was preparing to welcome al-Araibi home.

    Pascoe Vale FC has already registered al-Araibi to play in the 2019 season and his friends are making plans to celebrate his return. "I can't wait to take him to the Twelve Apostles," Yassin said, referring to one of Australia's most famous natural wonders.

    Source:

    https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2019/02/victory-joy-freed-footballer-set-australia-return-190212010457317.html


  • OutLook: Thailand frees Bahraini refugee footballer
    February 11,2019

    Bahraini refugee footballer Hakeem al-Araibi, whose detention in Thailand sparked an outcry, was released from prison on Monday after Manama withdrew its extradition request.

    Al-Araibi, a 25-year-old former member of Bahrain's national football team, fled his home country for Australia in 2014 after he was accused of vandalising a police station. He was granted political asylum in Australia.

    He was sentenced to 10 years imprisonment in absentia and Bahrain applied to Thailand for his extradition so that he could serve the sentence.

    Al-Araibi was detained in Bangkok in November on an Interpol notice requested by Bahrain. He had travelled to the Thai capital on honeymoon.

    Al-Araibi denies the charges and human rights activists say he could face torture if sent back to Bahrain. He has also been a vocal critic of Bahraini authorities, the BBC reported.

    His case had been taken up by high-profile footballers including Didier Drogba and Jamie Vardy calling for his release. The Australian government, FIFA and the International Olympic Committee all lobbied Thailand.

    Thailand's Office of the Attorney General (OAG) asked the court to end proceedings against Al-Araibi because Bahrain had said it no longer wanted him, officials told the BBC.

    "This morning the Ministry of Foreign Affairs informed us that Bahrain was no longer interested in this request," OAG Foreign Office Chief Chatchom Akapin said.

    Al-Araibi was expected to leave Thailand on Monday evening for Australia.

    Yahya Alhadid, Chairman of the Gulf Institute for Democracy and Human Rights, said on social media that the charges against Al-Araibi were dropped.

    Former Australian soccer captain Craig Foster, who had been petitioning the international sporting community for Araibi's release, said on Twitter the most important thing now was his wellbeing.

    "Sure Embassy staff will take care of him, there'll be tears there tonight, as there are in our household right now," Foster tweeted.

    "My thoughts are with Hakeem's wife. Her nightmare will shortly be at an end. Our prayers answered #Hakeemhome," he added, thanking "everyone who stood for what's right".

    As Australia repeatedly demanded his return and Bahrain slammed external interference in its internal affairs, Thailand insisted Al-Araibi's case had to go through the required judicial process and that it had been caught in the middle, according to Efe news.

    In a letter last month, Al-Araibi's wife issued an emotional plea to the Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-ocha to release her husband.

    "We are newly wed and my husband wanted to do something special for us... We travelled together excited to arrive in Thailand, only to be met with imprisonment and the threat for my husband to be sent back to Bahrain where his life will be in danger," Araibi's wife said from Australia in the letter delivered to the government by his lawyer.

    "His future lies in your hands... Please save my husband,""she had said.

    Source:

    https://www.outlookindia.com/newsscroll/thailand-frees-bahraini-refugee-footballer/1476561

  • The Sydney Morning Herald: Thai cave heroes join push to free refugee footballer Hakeem al-Araibi
    February 09,2019

    Thai cave heroes Richard Harris and Craig Challen have written to Thailand’s Prime Minister calling for the release of Australian-based refugee Hakeem al-Araibi.

    The two Australians of the Year, who played pivotal roles in rescuing 12 trapped boys and their football coach last year, sent a private letter in recent days as the Melbourne footballer remains detained in Bangkok and fears torture if he is sent to Bahrain.

    The letter will add weight to the campaign for Araibi’s release, which includes football circles, the expatriate Gulf community in Australia and political figures from Prime Minister Scott Morrison down. However, it is understood Dr Harris and Dr Challen do not yet want the details of the letter to be made public.

    Araibi has been detained in Thailand since he arrived for a honeymoon on November 27 after Bahrain issued an Interpol red notice, which he should not have been subject to as a recognised refugee.

    Fatima Yazbek from the Gulf Institute for Democracy and Human Rights, which has been campaigning for Araibi’s release for months, welcomed the news the heroes of the Thai cave rescue had expressed their support.

    “They rescued those boys and their coach, Thais should appreciate what they’ve done,” she said. “It was such good news to wake up to. We hope the Thais take this request into consideration.”

    Ms Yazbek said there was a sense of momentum in the campaign to free Araibi, with former Socceroo Craig Foster raising awareness in Australia, Thailand and Switzerland – where football’s governing body FIFA is located.

    Araibi was sentenced to 10 years in jail for crimes during the Arab Spring that he denies; supporters say he earned the wrath of the royal family for speaking out about the torture he suffered before he fled, allegations that are believed to have ended the chance for Sheikh Salman bin Ebrahim al-Khalifa to lead FIFA.

    Ms Yazbek said Araibi’s wife was faring “not so good” at the moment “but she’s trying to cope” and would soon resume her studies.

    In a hearing last week, where he appeared in shackles, Araibi formally refused Bahrain’s extradition request. The legal challenge is expected to last months.

    Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha said he would not intervene in the matter as justice needed to take its course. Prayut, as the leader of the junta that seized power in the May 2014 coup, has powers to issue sweeping edicts, but is officially nominated for the first elections in five years.

    Source:

    https://amp.smh.com.au/national/thai-cave-heroes-join-push-to-free-refugee-footballer-hakeem-al-araibi-20190209-p50wpd.html?__twitter_impression=true

  • FTBL: CORRUPTION, PRESS-THREATS AND $400 MILLION STANDING BETWEEN HAKEEM AND FREEDOM
    February 07,2019

    The story of Hakeem Al-Araibi, an Australian refugee who was on a honeymoon with his wife in Thailand, then captured by Interpol and detained in Bangkok since November is as unique as it is baffling.

    Hakeem’s previous conviction relates to vandalising and firebombing a police station, which he denies, saying he was participating in a televised football match at the time.

    After fleeing Bahrain, where he was jailed and allegedly tortured due to those charges, he was granted political asylum in Australia and was a permanent resident awaiting full Australian citizenship.

    One of the protesters in Sydney last week was Fox Sports commentator Simon Hill, who was wearing Al-Araibi's number five shirt in solidarity.

    Five years ago when Hakeem arrived in Australia, Hill interviewed the Bahrainian footballer, who at the time was very critical of Sheikh Salman, the current President of the Asian Football Confederation and member of the House of Khalifa, the Royal Family of Bahrain.

    “As per journalist practice I tried to get in touch with Sheikh Salman’s people for comment and we were immediately hit with a legal writ from his lawyers in London,” he told FTBL.

    “So the story never ran. But I have followed his progress. I wanted to come out to show my support and to get that story out there.

    “That important and powerful people with money behind them can stop the free press from holding powerful people to account by threats and that’s wrong.

    Hill added: “Hakeem needs to be freed because this is wrong on a very basic human level, it’s wrong what happened and he should be back with his family in Melbourne and playing for Pascoe Vale.”

    One of the first people Hakeem spoke to when he came to Australia and when he was arrested in Thailand was Ghassan Khamis, who works for the Gulf Institute for Democracy and Human Rights.

    “When he was arrested in Bangkok I personally received a call from him,” he told FTBL

    “I speak the same language as Hakeem and he told me, ‘I went from Melbourne to Thailand to enjoy my honeymoon and I’ve been arrested. I was told that my name is on an Interpol red notice list, please help me. 

    "They want to send me back to Bahrain. I have done nothing wrong in Bahrain but if I go back I will be tortured again and I will be sentenced to 12 years in jail.”

    Thailand's Ministry of Foreign Affairs released a statement yesterday blaming Australia for Hakeem Al-Alraibi's extradition, reiterating that Australian Interpol had originally alerted Thai authorities to Hakeem's red notice.

    "We would not have become involved in the issue had we not received the red notice alert from Australian Interpol," Thailand's statement read.

    "It took several days after the arrival of Mr. Hakeem before the Australian authorities informed us that the red notice had been cancelled. By that time, legal proceedings in Thailand regarding Mr. Hakeem had already started and could not be reversed."

    Khamis rejected the claim that Thailand were unable to reverse the process, instead maintaining that the Thai government's role in extraditing Hakeem to Bahrain was financially motivated.

    “We believe the Thai government have economic interests in Bahrain and they don’t want to lose them,” he said.

    “In 2019, Thailand will launch Thai-mart which is the biggest economic centre in Bahrain and the import and exports between Bahrain and Thailand are expected to be worth around US$400m annually.

    "Thailand don’t want to upset Bahrain and lose their investment.”

    Vision of Hakeem with his feet shackled together as he arrived at court, begging Thai authorities not to send him back to Bahrain has sent shockwaves around the world.

    Thai prosecutors submitted a request to the Criminal Court over Bahrain's request to extradite the 25-year-old Australian refugee footballer, meaning he will stay in prison until his next court date on April 22.

    In a cruel sense of irony, Pascoe Vale takes on Heidelberg in the first match of the Victorian NPL season on February 14 - Valentine’s Day.

    It’s an unwelcome reminder that Hakeem’s nightmare began when he travelled to Thailand on his honeymoon with his wife.

    Labour MP Peter Khalil’s electorate of Wills is in the heart of Hakeem’s Victorian NPL club and he revealed that Hakeem's teammates miss the right back immensely.

    “They are all mates and football clubs are like second families,” he told FTBL.

    “They are doing their best to focus on the season. I was down there at training recently. For them the most important thing is that Hakeem gets out of jail.

    “They are missing a really good right back but most of all they are missing a friend. Gonzalo Abascal Munoz visited him in Thailand and he talked about his morale and how he was doing it tough.”

    Meanwhile, arguably Hakeem's greatest advocate for the last two months, former Socceroo Craig Foster,called on FIFA - who he visited - and the IOC to place sanctions on Bahrain and Thailand.

    With Thailand looking to host a joint World Cup with Indonesia in 2034, Foster believes their chances of success are seriously damaged by what’s been occurring.

    “You are going to have refugee players in and through Thailand and elsewhere, and you can’t guarantee their safety, so we think the 2034 World Cup bid is in serious jeopardy and that Thailand needs to understand that now,” he told FTBL.

    “If this is allowed to run through the court system, it means that Hakeem will be incarcerated.

    "That is already a sentence and that’s why it is imperative that it does not happen. They need to expel this case now and ensure that justice is done, by letting Hakeem come home.”

    Source:

    https://www.ftbl.com.au/news/exclusive-corruption-press-threats-and-400-million-standing-between-hakeem-and-freedom-518948

  • News4Europe: Extradition request for Bahraini refugee reaches Thai court amid protests
    February 01,2019

    Prosecutors on Friday submitted an official request to a Bangkok court over the extradition of a detained Bahraini refugee soccer player as activists in Australia held protests and called for sporting sanctions and expulsions against Thailand and Bahrain.

    Hakeem al-Araibi, 25, has been ordered to appear at Bangkok’s Criminal Court on Monday morning where he will be asked whether or not he is willing to be sent back to Bahrain, his lawyer Nadthasiri Bergman told EFE.

    Araibi, a former Bahraini national soccer player and Australian resident and recognized refugee, was detained on Nov. 27 upon arrival from Melbourne to Bangkok with his wife.

    He has been held at Bangkok Remand Prison while the court considers deporting him to Bahrain, where he fears for his life and where he says he was once tortured. He is accused of vandalizing a police station there, which he denies.

    His case took on more urgency earlier this week after Bahrain submitted to Thai authorities an official request and documentation for his extradition.

    The Gulf Institute for Democracy and Human Rights (GIDHR) on Friday said that its “sources reported that #Thai prosecutors asked the court to approve the request, despite the non-existence of a mutual extradition treaty between the 2 countries, because #Bahrain promised reciprocal treatment of Thais in the future,” in a tweet.

    “The information indicated the possibility of approving the extradition request, as Al-Araibi’s offences are illegal under the #Thai law, and are not political or military offences,” it added.

    Scores of protesters in Melbourne’s Federation Square and the Sydney Opera House rallied Friday demanding the release of Araibi and all prisoners of conscience.

    “Thailand should know there are repercussions to taking any decision that is contrary to international law,” ex-Australian soccer captain Craig Foster said at the Sydney protest.

    He also called for FIFA and the Olympic committee to issue sporting sanctions and expulsions over the advancement of Araibi’s Monday hearing.

    “There can be few greater displays of utter disregard for not only human rights, but the directives of @FIFAcom @Olympics. Next step is expulsion from international sport,” he said on Twitter.

    "@FIFAcom @Olympics must be talking sanctions in the next week and reviewing membership of international sport,” he added.

    Using the hashtag #SaveHakeem on Thursday, Thailand’s immigration chief Surachate Hakparn weighed in on the case on social media, reiterating that it is the court that will decide whether Araibi will be returned to Bahrain or Australia.

    He said Thailand is doing “everything according to the human rights principles and the rule of law,” and added that Araibi was taken into custody “because of arrest warrants from both of interpol and Bahraini government.”

    The Interpol red notice was issued erroneously, contradicting Interpol’s own policy that they will not be applied against recognized refugees.

    GIDHR president Yahya Alhadid tweeted Friday that "exposing an individual to the risk of sending him back to a country which he fled and might face torture is a violation for the international human rights covenants.”

    Araibi has been detained for 67 days since his arrest.

    Source:

    http://www.news4europe.eu/6350_world/5930489_extradition-request-for-bahraini-refugee-reaches-thai-court-amid-protests.html#

  • Football Today: Get out on Friday for human rights and #SaveHakeem
    January 30,2019

    Australian football fans are being urged to show their support for the unlawfully detained Australian refugee Hakeem Al-Araibi this Friday, the day of the Asian Cup Final in the UAE.

    It is one more step in the campaign to #SaveHakeem, coordinated by the Gulf Institute of Democracy and Human Rights (GIDHR).

    Football fans and anyone supporting human rights are asked to go to an iconic location where they live and help support freedom for prisoners of conscience around the world, like Al-Araibi.

    Specific protests have been organised for:

    • SYDNEY: in front of the Sydney Opera House at 10.30am
    • MELBOURNE: in Federation Square at 10.30am.

    Fatima Yazbek, the Head of the GIDHR Committee on Reports and Studies, wants people to post a photo of themselves on social media with a sign showing the hashtag #HumanRightsCup and #SaveHakeem.

    “We are organising specific events in Sydney and Melbourne, but we would also ask people everywhere to do the same thing, regardless of where they live,” said Ms Yazbek.

    “We want to be able to show that support for Hakeem and other prisoners of conscience is widespread and global.”

    The planned peaceful demonstration comes on top of news that Bahrain has now lodged their extradition request with Thailand, a situation described as “an emergency” by Brendan Schwab for World Players United, and Craig Foster, who met with FIFA earlier this week. 

    Schwab told ABC Radio that there is only one outcome that is consistent with Thailand's international human rights obligations, and that is to return Al-Araibi to Australia immediately. 

    The Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, has also now written to his Thai counterpart seeking his intervention in the case and emphasising that Al-Araibi's home is in Australia.

    Al-Araibi's wife is also asking the governments of Canada and New Zealand to assist the cause by putting pressure on Thailand.

  • SCMP: Global protests to #SaveHakeem set for Asian Cup final day as Bahrain ramps up extradition process
    January 30,2019

    Gulf Institute for Democracy and Human Rights (GIDHR) chose the most important day of Asian football’s four-yearly calendar to maximise exposure to the plight of Al-Araibi, a former Bahraini footballer who fled his country in 2014 after the Arab spring and was granted asylum in Australia in 2017.

    GIDHR chairman Yahya al-Hadid has urged people from all over the world to hold gatherings at iconic venues in their cities, with Melbourne, Sydney, London and Berlin responding to the calls to protest Al-Araibi’s detention in Thai jail and possible extradition to Bahrain.

    A city in Canada is also set to join the protests while organisers are waiting for word from Beirut, Dublin and Paris.

    “We are calling for the rallies to demand freedom for Hakeem Al-Araibi and other prisoners of conscience, as well as to shed the light on the human rights violations,” Al-Hadid told the South China Morning Post. “The case is more complicated after Bahrain submitted the extradition papers, it seems that they won’t give up on the case easily, they are fighting hard to get Hakeem extradited.

    “The Bahraini authorities do not deal smoothly with the critical voices, especially if those voices targeted the royal family members or exposed the human rights abuses committed in the country. That’s why they want Hakeem in the first place.

    “Fifa’s recent involvement and the letter of the Australian PM to the Thai PM, along with all the great efforts of the human rights and sports groups give Hakeem more chances for freedom. However, we remain cautious because we know Bahrain won’t give up easily.”

    Source:

    https://www.scmp.com/sport/football/article/2184340/global-protests-savehakeem-set-asian-cup-final-day-bahrain-ramps?edition=hong-kong

  • The Guardian: Campaigners say case of Bahraini footballer Hakeem al-Araibi now an ‘emergency
    January 29,2019

    Activists campaigning for the release of the Bahraini refugee footballer Hakeem al-Araibi, who has been detained in Thailand since November after an Interpol red notice was wrongly issued against him, say his plight has become an emergency.

    The warnings came from Brendan Schwab of the World Players Association and the former Australia captain Craig Foster after news that Bahrain has formally submitted an extradition request for Al-Araibi’s return.

    Schwab and Foster were in Zurich on Monday to urge Fifa to do more to save Al-Araibi, who fled Bahrain after being beaten by police and was given refugee status by Australia, over fears he will be tortured or even killed if he is sent back.

    “The situation is very urgent because, even if Bahrain does not succeed in extraditing Hakeem, the consequences for him of spending months or even years in the prison while his case drags will be destroying for him,” Schwab told the Guardian. “We are clearly facing a human rights emergency which needs to be elevated to the highest levels in Bahrain and Thailand. We need to see progress – and fast – for Hakeem’s sake.”

    Foster, meanwhile, said he wanted the case “resolved before Friday” after meeting the Fifa secretary general, Fatma Samoura.

    Al-Araibi and his supporters believe the fact he was a critic of Sheikh Salman Bin Ibrahim al-Khalifa, a member of Bahrain’s ruling family when he contested the Fifa presidential election in 2015, has led Sheikh Salman to seek revenge. In 2016 Al-Araibi was given a 10-year prison sentence in absentia after being convicted of vandalising a police station, even though he was playing in a televised match at the time the crime took place.

    “After meeting Fifa we believe it understands the gravity of the case,” Schwab said. “The urgent challenge now for football is to come up with a way to solve it.”

    On Monday Bahrain’s interior minister defended his government’s pursuit of al-Araibi, claiming concerns he will face torture and unjust imprisonment if he is returned are “false reports”.

    The minister, General Shaikh Rashid bin Abdullah Al Khalifa, said the rule of law prevailed in Bahrain, pointing to al-Araibi’s release on bail from the initial charges – which allowed him to flee and claim refuge in Australia.

    “The external interference in the internal affairs of Bahrain is unacceptable,” he said.

    “Those raising unfounded doubts about the integrity and independence of the Kingdom’s judicial system are not only interfering, but also attempting to influence the course of justice.”

    He said there was a need to “respect the legal proceedings and not to ignore the facts by spreading false reports and biased and non-objective information”.

    The Bahraini government’s communications office did not answer specific questions about its attempts to have al-Araibi returned, including how it obtained an Interpol red notice in contravention of Interpol policies designed to protect refugees.

    Previous statements from the Bahraini government defending its justice system have been labeled “absurd” by human rights groups, noting multiple investigations and reports on the torture and mistreatment of prisoners and targeting of opposition figures.

    Yahya Alhadid, president of Gulf Institute for Democracy and Human Rights, pointed to the recent death sentences delivered by the Bahraini court against political detainees and life sentences against opposition leaders.

    “This is a serious indicator of what is waiting for Hakeem if extradited back to Bahrain,” he said.

    “The judge, Mohammad Bin Ali al-Khalifa, who sentenced al-Araibi had upheld the court of cassation’s sentence against the prominent human rights defender, Nabeel Rajab, a few days ago, over a tweet posted on his personal Twitter account.”

    Source:

    https://www.theguardian.com/football/2019/jan/28/hakeem-al-araibi-bahrain-detention-activists-emergency

  • SBS: Hakeem Al-Araibi: Bahrain condemns 'external interference' as it files extradition papers
    January 29,2019

    Bahrain's Interior Ministry confirmed that it has filed documents for the extradition of detained refugee footballer Hakeem Al-Araibi, while also lashing out at "intolerable" external interference.

    The application to Thai officials aims to relocate the Melbourne-based footballer from the Thai prison he has been held in for more than 60 days. 

    The footballer has been detained by Thai authorities since arriving in Bangkok on his honeymoon November 27 over a now-lifted Interpol red notice.

    Interior Minister General Shaikh Rashid bin Abdullah Al Khalifa criticised parties that are advocating for Hakeem Al-Araibi's release.

    "External interference in the internal affairs of Bahrain is unacceptable," he said in a statement.

    "Those raising unfounded doubts about the integrity and independence of the Kingdom's judicial system are not only interfering, but also attempting to influence the course of justice," he said, insisting that he a case to answer on charges for allegedly vandalising a police station during the Arab Spring in 2012.

    Al-Araibi, 25, was sentenced to 10 years' jail in absentia, despite submitting evidence he was playing football at the time of the alleged crime.

    Hakeem faces potential death sentence

    The Gulf Institute for Democracy and Human Rights issued a statement on Tuesday, saying the Bahraini footballer's life would be in peril if he is extradited. 

    "Bahraini courts issued harsh sentences today, including death sentences against political detainees and life sentences against the opposition leader," GIDHR president Yahya Alhadid said in a statement.

    "This is a serious indicator of what is waiting for Hakeem if extradited back to Bahrain.

    "It is FIFA's duty today to use its authority and put an end to this gentlemen's suffering.

    "We also call on Thailand not to respond to the extradition request and to keep their international obligations not to send anyone to a state or country where they might face torture."

    Al-Araibi asked on Monday from Bangkok Remand Prison why he was there.

    "Why has Bahrain followed me? It's 2019, it's not 100 years ago, we have human rights now. Please keep fighting for me, please do everything you can," he urged.

    Hakeem 'anxious, afraid'

    Evan Jones from the Asia Pacific Refugee Rights Network, who briefed Al-Araibi on Monday on the growing international groundswell of support for his cause, said the footballer was still anxious and afraid.

    His main source of information on his case is from Australian Embassy staff, who have longer access visits than the usual 15 minutes per day, and his lawyer.

    "He has no access to a newspaper, television or telephone," Jones said.

    He said Al-Araibi desperately wanted to hear from his wife who has returned to Australia but an email she sent in Arabic didn't make it through the prison's computer system.

    Jones said Al-Araibi still looked "healthy and strong" and had enough money to buy food. But the footballer shares a small cell with 50 others. "He's really worried about getting sick, the conditions aren't good in there," Jones said.

    Al-Araibi and many of his supporters believe he has been targeted by Bahrain for speaking out against Sheikh Salman al-Khalifa, the president of the Asian Football Confederation who refused to help the footballer.

    Former Socceroos captain Craig Foster has presented FIFA with a petition with 50,000 signatures and supporting documents demanding the sport's governing body help secure al-Araibi's immediate release.

    Source:

    https://www.sbs.com.au/news/hakeem-al-araibi-bahrain-condemns-external-interference-as-it-files-extradition-papers

  • Nine News: Bahrain seeking extradition of Melbourne based refugee footballer detained in Thailand
    January 29,2019

    Bahrain has submitted an application to Thai officials for the extradition of Melbourne-based refugee Hakeem al-Araibi.

    The footballer has been held by Thai authorities since arriving in Bangkok on his honeymoon November 27 over a now-lifted Interpol red notice.

    The Gulf Institute for Democracy and Human Rights has issued a statement, saying the Bahrain government had lodged a formal request for al-Araibi's extradition for allegedly vandalising a police station during the Arab Spring in 2012.

    Al-Araibi, 25, was sentenced to 10 years' jail in absentia despite submitting evidence he was playing football at the time of the alleged crime.

    "Bahraini courts issued harsh sentences today, including death sentences against political detainees and life sentences against the opposition leader," GIDHR president Yahya Alhadid said in a statement.

    "This is a serious indicator of what is waiting for Hakeem if extradited back to Bahrain.

    "It is FIFA's duty today to use its authority and put an end to this gentlemen's suffering.

    "We also call on Thailand not to respond to the extradition request and to keep their international obligations not to send anyone to a state or country where they might face torture."

    Al-Araibi asked on Monday from Bangkok Remand Prison why he was there.

    "Why has Bahrain followed me? It's 2019, it's not 100 years ago, we have human rights now. Please keep fighting for me, please do everything you can," he urged.

    Evan Jones from the Asia Pacific Refugee Rights Network, who briefed al-Araibi on Monday on the growing international groundswell of support for his cause, said the footballer was still anxious and afraid.

    His main source of information on his case is from Australian Embassy staff, who have longer access visits than the usual 15 minutes per day, and his lawyer.

    "He has no access to a newspaper, television or telephone," Jones said.

    He said al-Araibi desperately wanted to hear from his wife who has returned to Australia but an email she sent in Arabic didn't make it through the prison's computer system.

    Jones said al-Araibi still looked "healthy and strong" and had enough money to buy food. But the footballer shares a small cell with 50 others. "He's really worried about getting sick, the conditions aren't good in there," Jones said.

    Al-Araibi and many of his supporters believe he has been targeted by Bahrain for speaking out against Sheikh Salman al-Khalifa, the president of the Asian Football Confederation who refused to help the footballer.

    Former Socceroo Craig Foster, who has galvanised support for al-Araibi around the world, will hold a press conference in Zurich after meeting with FIFA general-secretary Fatma Samoura and World Players' Association head Brendan Schwab.

    Foster presented FIFA with a petition with 50,000 signatures and supporting documents demanding the sport's governing body help secure al-Araibi's immediate release.

    Source:

    https://www.9news.com.au/national/2019/01/29/10/29/akeem-al-araibi-refugee-bahrain-extradition-thai-authorities-footballer-arrest

  • The New Daily: Foster optimistic of success in campaign to free jailed refugee footballer
    January 29,2019

    Former Socceroo Craig Foster is increasingly optimistic that the campaign he is leading to free jailed Bahraini refugee Hakeem al-Araibi will succeed, despite the gulf kingdom filing for the footballer’s extradition from Thailand.

    Foster and World Players Association executive director Brendan Schwab met FIFA secretary-general Fatma Samoura in Zurich on Tuesday.

    Foster said afterwards that Ms Samoura had agreed to exert further pressure on the Bahraini and Thai governments to ensure al-Araibi’s release.

    “I was extremely concerned with the path FIFA were taking. I didn’t think that was adequate and I made that very clear to them,” he said.

    “Today’s actions and escalation give us a lot more hope and more confidence that the dynamics of the case are going to change quickly,” Foster told The New Daily from Zurich on Tuesday.

    Ms Samoura agreed the situation was an emergency that required football’s world governing body to step up its efforts on behalf of the jailed soccer player.

    “We made it clear to FIFA that it is not acceptable for this case to be rushed into court,” Foster said.

    “Under international law, Hakeem should be released immediately and we don’t accept letting this case drift and allowing him to be drawn into the justice system in Thailand.

    “FIFA has agreed with that and has a much stronger will to act and to do so with Bahrain.”

    Al-Araibi, 25, plays football for Pascoe Vale in Melbourne. He had just arrived in Thailand from Australia for his honeymoon in late November when he was detained based on an Interpol red notice issued at Bahrain’s request.

    Overnight on Monday, Bahrain issued extradition documents to Thailand, 13 days ahead of the February 10 deadline.

    That prompted Amnesty International to join the call for more to be done to have him released.

    “Hakeem will not be safe in Bahrain and cannot be sent back. It’s time for the Prime Minister to step up and ensure Hakeem is returned home to Australia,” national director Claire Mallinson said.

    Al-Araibi continued to plead with the Australian government on Monday from the Bangkok Remand Prison, where he is being held.

    “Why am I here? Why has Bahrain followed me? It’s 2019, it’s not 100 years ago. We have human rights now. Please keep fighting for me. Please do everything you can,” he said.

    Foster was disappointed that FIFA and the International Olympic Committee, which has joined the fight for al-Araibi’s release, were not considering sanctions against Bahrain.

    “They’re not convinced that sporting sanctions are the best answer right now,” he said.

    “We made clear we don’t agree with that and that we believe sanctions should remain on the table if this next escalation in action is not successful in the next week.”

    Bahraini Interior Minister Sheik Rashid bin Abdullah al-Khalifa has criticised what he has labelled “external interference” in the gulf nation’s affairs. But Foster dismissed those concerns.

    “You can’t interfere in human rights. Human rights are universal and apolitical. This has got nothing to do with any particular country. This is about the breach of human rights of a young footballer. It just so happens that he has been tortured by Bahrain,” he said.

    “It doesn’t matter to us which country has perpetrated that atrocity.”

    Gulf Institute for Democracy and Human Rights spokeswoman Fatima Yazbek said she believed Bahrain’s determination to extradite al-Araibi was designed to intimidate anyone else who might consider speaking out about the nation’s ruling royal family.

    “Hakeem has criticised publicly the Bahraini royal family, which includes the current Asian Football Confederation president, Sheik Salman bin Ibrahim al-Khalifa,” she said.

    “He’s spoken out about the human rights in the country and how the royal family have been involved in targeting, torturing and banning sportspeople involved in the fight for human rights during the Arab Spring of 2011.”

    Ms Yazbek said Bahrain’s monarchy was determined to make it clear it would accept no criticism of its system.

    “Just yesterday, Bahraini courts upheld death sentences and life sentences for political detainees and opposition leaders,” she said.

    “They are tightening their grip on everyone and everything in the country.”

    She agreed that sporting sanctions would have a powerful impact.

    “Bahrain pays millions of dollars to whitewash its image through sport,” she said. “If FIFA were to impose sanctions or a ban then it would hit home strongly.”

    Source:

    https://thenewdaily.com.au/sport/football/2019/01/29/foster-success-campaign-free-refugee-footballer/


  • Football Today: FIFA urged to push AFC and AFC President more to help #SaveHakeem
    January 26,2019

    Attention has once again turned to Thailand and their capacity to break the impasse concerning the fate of Hakeem Al-Araibi.

    Yesterday, FIFA's chief executive, Fatma Samoura, urged the Thailand government “to immediately release” Al-Araibi in a letter to Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha.

    “Mr Al-Araibi is currently being detained in prison in Thailand awaiting the outcome of extradition proceedings to Bahrain,” Samoura wrote in the letter. “This situation should not have arisen, in particular, since Al-Arabi now lives, works and plays as a professional footballer in Australia, where he has been accorded refugee status.

    “When according refugee status to Mr Al-Araibi, the Australian authorities concluded that he is at serious risk of mistreatment in his home country,” she adds. “FIFA is therefore respectively urging Thailand to take the necessary steps to ensure Mr Al-Araibi is allowed to return safely to Australia at the earliest possible moment.”

    FIFA has also for a meeting with the Thai government the players’ union FIFPro so the case can be resolved “in a humane manor”.

    The spokesperson for the Gulf Institute for Democracy and Human Rights (GIDHR), Fatima Yazbek, believes that FIFA should also call on Bahrain to withdraw their action seeking Al-Araibi's return to his homeland. 

    “FIFA should call on Bahrain not to insist on demanding Hakeem’s deportation, and to impose strict penalties if Bahrain did not fulfil the request.”

    Ms Yazbek said she was encouraged that FIFA had urged Thailand not to agree to the Bahraini request, but it needs more. 

    “The members of the AFC (Asian Football Confederation) should follow up with the AFC president and demand to fulfil his obligations and protect their players’ human rights.

    “They should call on the AFC to save a youth player’s life instead of watching how Hakeem is losing his hope, faith in football, and life,” she said.

    Ms Yazbek's call was supported by Sayed Ahmed Alwadaei, the director of advocacy at the human rights watchdog Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy (BIRD).

    “While FIFA has reached out to the Thai authorities, they have yet to question their own senior vice-president Sheikh Salman. Why has he remained silent?” he said.

    Mr Alwadaei said he would also like to see consequences imposed by FIFA on both the Bahrain and Thailand national teams for failing to take action and comply with the FIFA human rights policy.

    “FIFA must do everything in their power to save Hakeem’s life. Every second he spends in detention should be counted as a failure of FIFA to put its full weight behind this player.”

    Source:

    https://footballtoday.news/features/fifa-urged-to-push-afc-and-afc-president-more-to-help-savehakeem

  • GIDHR President Met Andrea Maksimovic of ACTU
    January 23,2019
    23 Jan 2019 - The President of the Gulf Institute for Democracy and Human Rights (GIDHR), Yahya Alhadid, met today with Andrea Maksimovic of the Australian Council of Trade Unions.

    They discussed fields of cooperation to raise more awareness over the case of the Australian refugee footballer Hakeem AlAraibi who is detained in Thailand since 27 November 2018.

     “ACTU is communicating with the European Council for Trade Unions and the International Federation for Trade Unions to raise Hakeem’s case globally and internationally,” Maksimovic said.

    From his side, Alhadid showed appreciation and respect for the great support the Australian community granted Hakeem, and promised to keep the hard work until Hakeem is released.
  • ABC: International football community steps up efforts to free Hakeem al-Araibi
    January 23,2019

    The international football community and human rights groups around the world are stepping up their efforts to free soccer player Hakeem al-Araibi.

    Al-Araibi, who has refugee status in Australia, has been held in a Thai jail for 58 days.

    He was arrested on his honeymoon in Bangkok, after Bahraini authorities issued an interpol red notice which has since been cancelled.

    Guests:

    Fatima Yazbek, a Director from the Gulf Institute for Democracy and Human Rights

    Craig Foster, former Socceroos captain and SBS TV host

    Source:

    https://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/drive/international-football-community-steps-up-efforts-to-free-hakee/10744000

  • IRCT joins international calls for the immediate release of professional footballer and torture survivor, Mr Hakeem al-Araibi at risk of extradition to Bahrain and torture
    January 21,2019
    The International Rehabilitation Council for Torture Victims (IRCT) is deeply concerned for the welfare of Mr Hakeem al-Araibi, who has been detained for 50 days in Thailand pending possible extradition to Bahrain.

    The detention of Mr. Al-Araibi, a 25-year-old Bahraini torture survivor and refugee with permanent residency in Australia, is particularly abhorrent because it was based on a red notice issued by Interpol against its own procedures, which ban issuing red notices on behalf of the country from which the refugee fled and that, in cases such as this, is said to have tortured the victim. 

    According to the Gulf Institute for Democracy and Human Rights, there are currently over 4,000 prisoners of conscience in Bahrain. 11 citizens died as a result of torture in Bahrain’s prisons in 2017. The UN Committee against Torture expressed concern over numerous and consistent allegations of widespread torture in Bahrain (who have ratified the UN Convention Against Torture) and “the climate of impunity which seems to prevail”, in its observations on Bahrain’s second and third periodic reports. Against this backdrop and bearing the specific facts of Mr Hakeem al-Araibi’s case, extradition to Bahrain would put him at a grave risk of torture and is therefore prohibited under international human rights law. 

    IRCT President Jorge Aroche states that “at this critical stage in Hakeem’s incarceration, we urge civic society, and in particular its football institutions to use all of the immense leverage that football possesses, as well as the Thai and Australian authorities to assist in Hakeem’s immediate release, so that he can be safely reunited with his wife and rebuild the new life the Australian government has granted him in Australia”. Inspiring a sense of renewal to our global movement in strengthening preventive mechanisms against torture, the IRCT also supports former Captain of the Australian National Football team, Craig Foster, who is tirelessly leading the growing international effort in reminding all stakeholders of their international obligations and advocating respect for human rights.

    Torture can have severe and long-lasting health and mental health consequences for the victims who survive these horrific ordeals and its impact can extend to the survivors’ family, friends, and the community as a whole. It is the deliberate and systematic dismantling of a person’s identity and humanity. In the 2016 Mexico Consensus, the global IRCT membership declared its deep concern “that torture and other grave human rights violations, including extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances, continue to be widespread and often systemic in countries worldwide: and that rhetoric instigating or condoning torture and stigmatising victims is growing in all regions of the world”


    Source: 

    https://irct.org/media-and-resources/latest-news/article/984

  • The Guardian: Hakeem al-Araibi: Bahrain says refugee footballer's life is not in danger
    January 18,2019

    Hakeem al-Araibi’s life is not under threat and he could appeal his conviction if he returned to Bahrain, the Bahraini government has said in its first significant response to the international outrage at its efforts to reclaim the dissident refugee.

    Al-Araibi, who is a permanent resident of Australia, has been detained in Bangkok for almost two months while Thai authorities process an extradition request from Bahrain. The 25-year-old has said he fears Bahrain authorities will imprison and torture or possibly kill him if he is returned.

    In response to an opinion piece published on Thursday, the Bahrain government told the Guardian there was “no threat to his life”.

    “Activists claiming to speak on his behalf suggest his life is in danger if he returns to Bahrain, but he has only been sentenced to imprisonment,” a spokesman said.

    “Had Al-Araibi remained in Bahrain, he would also have had the chance to appeal alongside his co-accused. Instead he fled Bahrain after being released on bail to play professional football.”

    Al-Araibi has been granted refugee status by Australia, which determined he had a well-founded fear of persecution in his country of origin, and travelled to Thailand with his wife intending to honeymoon. He claims he received Australian government advice that he was safe to travel.

    He was arrested in Bangkok after Interpol erroneously approved Bahrain’s request for a red notice warrant, against its own protocols to protect refugees from the countries they fled.

    The 2014 conviction, delivered in absentia and with a 10-year jail sentence, was based on the alleged coerced confession of his co-defendant and brother, that they committed an act of vandalism against a police station.

    The act occurred at the same time, or very soon after, Al-Araibi was playing in a televised football match, and the trial judge – a member of the royal family – has been accused of ignoring key evidence.

    Human Rights Watch’s deputy south-east Asia director, Phil Robertson, described the conviction as “bogus”.

    The government spokesman, who described the vandalism as “terrorism-related”, said all Bahraini individuals were entitled to legitimate legal representation and appeals, and convictions in Bahrain’s criminal court related to the penal code and “do not in any way relate to political views or the right to expression”.

    “In all cases brought by the public prosecutor, litigants are accorded their full legal rights and guaranteed an independent and transparent trial in line with international standards that insure fair and equal treatment for all,” he said.

    Amnesty International Australia said it had repeatedly recorded and exposedrepressive tactics by the Bahraini government against civil society including travel bans, dissolution of opposition groups and media, and arbitrary detention of human rights defenders.

    “As recently as December, the conviction and sentencing of prominent human rights defender Nabeel Rajab has demonstrated Bahrain’s farcical justice system,” Amnesty’s national director, Claire Mallinson, told the Guardian

    “To assert that he ‘has only been sentenced to imprisonment’ does not reflect the real danger of torture that Hakeem will face if returned, and that he himself has previously attested to.”

    In 2016 Al-Araibi detailed his previous imprisonment and torture in a Bahrain prison.

    Bahrain’s spokesman said the kingdom took allegations of mistreatment “very seriously” and had established a special investigations unit and ombudsman which he claimed had received “international recognition”.

    “Bahrain remains committed to upholding the rule of law and safeguarding individual rights protected by the kingdom’s constitution.”

    However according to the Gulf Institute for Democracy and Human Rights, Al-Araibi’s claims of abuse and torture were never investigated and no security personnel were held accountable.

    “The Bahraini government are trading on the legal procedures to distract the international public opinion,” Yahya Alhadid, president of the GIDHR, told the Guardian.

    “If Hakeem is extradited back to Bahrain, he will face continuous electric shocks, because he dared to criticise a member of the royal family.

    “We had previous experience with the political detainee the athlete Hamad Al-Fahed, whose sentence was [increased] from 15 years in prison to a life sentence after speaking out about the torture he was subjected to: electric shocks, and stripping him naked.”

    GIDHR’s Fatima Yazbek said security forces were considered infallible in Bahrain, the UN special rapporteur was still banned from entering the country, and the ombudsman was essentially a public relations exercise.

    The Australian government, international NGOs, and football player associations are among countless groups lobbying for the release of Al-Araibi back to Australia, particularly in light of Thailand’s decision not to return 18-year-old Rahaf Al-Qunun back to Saudi Arabia last week.

    Key questions about the complicated case remain unanswered, including the actions of the Australian federal police and its officers seconded to the country’s Interpol bureau, which alerted Thailand to Al-Araibi’s travel plansbecause of the red notice against him.

    Source:

    https://amp.theguardian.com/world/2019/jan/18/hakeem-al-araibi-bahrain-says-refugee-footballers-life-is-not-in-danger?__twitter_impression=true

  • Green Left: #SaveHakeem: Stop the deportation of a Bahraini refugee
    January 16,2019

    Bahraini refugee Hakeem Al-Araibi has been held in detention in Thailand since last November 27. He faces the terrifying prospect of being deported to the country where he was tortured.

    Al-Araibi, a semi-professional footballer and former member of the Bahraini national football team,was on his honeymoon and had just landed in Thailand. Australian authorities alerted Thai authorities, whereupon he was arrested. Bahrain is demanding his extradition.

    Yahya Alhadid, a spokesperson for the Gulf Institute for Democracy and Human Rights, said if Al-Araibi is extradited back to Bahrain he will face “continuous electric shocks, because he dared to criticise a member of the Royal family”.

    Alhadid said that another detainee, athlete Hamad Al-Fahed, had his sentence changed from 15 years’ jail to life after he spoke out about the torture he was subjected to, which included electric shocks.

    Al-Araibi fled to Australia in 2014 and was accepted as a refugee. He clearly felt protected enough to fly to Thailand with his wife. He was detained after Australia issued an Interpol Red Notice (or arrest warrant).

    Interpol withdrew its arrest warrant on December 3 when it found that Al-Araibi was a refugee. This should have led to his release, but the Thai authorities extended his detention for 60 days to prepare his extradition to Bahrain. Al-Araibi was shifted from detention to a jail, where his phone was taken and he was only allowed to see his lawyers and consular officials.

    The Australian authorities should never have issued a Red Notice. The government should have immediately told the Thai authorities that Al-Araibi was a refugee under its protection. It did not: it told the Thai authorities that it had no responsibility because Al-Araibi was not a citizen.

    The Australian government was only forced to take up Al-Araibi’s case after an international campaign, involving Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International and the football community, started up. The Foreign Affairs minister has been shamed into trying to get him released.

    Al-Araibi’s “crime” was to use his freedom in Australia in 2016 to criticise a member of the Bahraini royal family, Sheikh Salman Bin Ibrahim Al-Khalifa, for locking up and torturing athletes in 2012.

    Sheikh Salman was campaigning to become the next president of FIFA (Fédération Internationale de Football Association) and had a good chance of winning. It is thought that he lost the vote because of concerns about Bahrain’s human rights record. Al-Araibi helped expose this.

    While other football organisations have come out strongly in support of Al-Araibi, the Asian Football Confederation (AFC), headed by Sheikh Salman, has remained silent.

    Al-Araibi’s lawyers are calling on immigration minister Peter Dutton to step in and grant citizenship to Al-Araibi.

    Al-Araibi has good reason to be terrified about being extradited to Bahrain. Human Rights Watch says Bahrain’s human rights situation has continued to deteriorate.

    Judge Mohammad Bin Ali Al-Khalifa, who sentenced Al-Araibi in his absence, has upheld a court sentence against a prominent human rights defender, Nabeel Rajab, over a personal tweet; issued dozens of arbitrary sentences against prisoners of conscience; stripped 57 Bahrainis of their citizenship for political reasons; sentenced Bahrain’s opposition leader, Sheikh Ali Salman, to 9 years’ jail; and upheld the death sentence against a victim of torture, Maher Al-Khabaz.

    The real crime is that Al-Araibi is being held in Thailand for exposing human rights abuses by AFC president Sheikh Salman and the Bahraini Royal Family. Only through international and local pressure has the Australian government been forced to reveal its own shady role in the detention of Al-Araibi.

    Al-Araibi must be released. You can help Green Left Weekly continue to campaign for human rights for refugees by becoming a supporter. Alternatively, you can make a one-off donation by Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT) to Bendigo Bank.

    Source:

    https://www.greenleft.org.au/content/savehakeem-stop-deportation-bahraini-refugee-0

  • GIDHR meets Senator Sarah Hason-Young
    January 15,2019
  • HUMAN RIGHTS GROUPS CALL FOR RELEASE OF AUSTRALIAN REFUGEE FOOTBALLER
    January 14,2019

    Hakeem al-Araibi, the Melbourne based refugee, and elite soccer player was arrested at Bangkok airport after stepping off a plane en-route to holiday with his wife.  His arrest followed the issue of an Interpol red notice from the Kingdom of Bahrain, his native country. The notice requested his immediate arrest and extradition to Bahrain where he faces the charge of vandalism to a police station, during the 2012 Arab Spring.

    The Interpol red notice was subsequently withdrawn as allegations arose that the notice against al-Araibi was against official Interpol regulation.

    However, al-Araibi remains imprisoned in Thailand as the Thai government extending his detention for another 60-90 days.  

    We were joined by Fatima Yazbek from the Gulf Institute of Democracy and Human Rights, a human rights group supporting the release of al-Araibi, to learn more about the situation.

    Source:

    https://2ser.com/human-rights-groups-call-for-release-of-australian-refugee-footballer-detained-in-thailand/

  • AP: Australia praises Thai move on Saudi, concerned about player
    January 11,2019

    BANGKOK (AP) — Australia’s foreign minister praised Thailand for its handling of a young Saudi woman who fled her family to seek asylum in Australia, but also reminded it of continuing concern about a Bahraini soccer player granted asylum in Australia who remains in Thai detention.

    Marise Payne met with senior Thai officials in Bangkok on Thursday after Australia announced it would assess the request for asylum by 18-year-old Rahaf Mohammed Alqunun, who was stopped Saturday at a Bangkok airport on her way to Australia and her passport seized. She said she was fleeing abuse by her family.

    Payne told reporters that Australia’s review of Alqunun’s case is already underway.

    She quashed speculation that Alqunun might accompany her back to Australia “because there are steps which are required in the process which Australia, and any other country considering such a matter, would have to go through.”

    Confined to an airport transit hotel, Alqunun conducted an online appeal for help, garnering tens of thousands of followers on Twitter and enough public and diplomatic support to convince Thai officials to admit her temporarily under the protection of U.N. officials. The office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees quickly deemed her a legitimate refugee.

    Alqunun’s case has highlighted the cause of women’s rights in Saudi Arabia. Several female Saudis fleeing abuse by their families have been caught trying to seek asylum abroad in recent years and returned home. Human rights activists say many similar cases have gone unreported.

    She has attracted interest worldwide, particularly in Australia. In downtown Sydney on Thursday, four women dressed in jeans and calling themselves the Secret Sisterhood held a topless protest outside the building housing the Saudi Consulate, calling on Australia to grant Alqunun residency.

    Alqunun’s father arrived in Bangkok on Tuesday, but his daughter refused to meet with him. Thailand Immigration Police chief Lt. Gen. Surachate Hakparn said the father denied physically abusing Alqunun or trying to force her into an arranged marriage, which were among the reasons she gave for her flight.

    Surachate said the father wanted his daughter back but respected her decision. Surachate described him as a governor in Saudi Arabia.

    “He has 10 children. He said the daughter might feel neglected sometimes,” Surachate said.

    Payne was also asked by reporters about the case of Hakeem al-Araibi, a 25-year-old former member of Bahrain’s national soccer team, who was granted refugee status in Australia in 2017 after fleeing his homeland, where he said he was persecuted and tortured. He was arrested while on holiday in Thailand last November due to an Interpol notice in which Bahrain sought his custody after he was sentenced in absentia in 2014 to 10 years in prison for allegedly vandalizing a police station — a charge he denies. Bahrain is seeking his extradition.

    She said she raised Australia’s concerns about the case with Thailand’s deputy prime minister and foreign minister.

    “The Thai government is most certainly aware of the importance of this matter to Australia,” she said. “I do note that there are legal proceedings underway in relation to Mr. al-Araibi, and Australia will continue to be in very close contact with Thai authorities in relation to this.”

    Al-Araibi, who now plays for Melbourne’s Pascoe Vale Football Club, has been publicly critical of the Bahrain royal family’s alleged involvement in sports scandals, which puts him at risk of punishment by the Bahraini government.

    Al-Araibi has said he was blindfolded and had his legs beaten while he was held in Bahrain in 2012. He said he believed he was targeted for arrest because of his Shiite faith and because his brother was politically active. Bahrain has a Shiite majority but is ruled by a Sunni monarchy, and has a reputation for harsh repression since its failed “Arab Spring” uprising in 2011.

    Craig Foster, a former Australian soccer player, held a news conference Thursday in Sydney to issue a joint call for al-Araibi’s release with Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and the Sydney-based Gulf Institute for Democracy and Human Rights.

    After commending FIFA, soccer’s world governing body, and Australia’s Football Federation for supporting al-Araibi’s release, Foster criticized the Asian Football Confederation and its head, Salman al-Khalifa.

    “Sheikh Salman is obligated to support Hakeem. He is obligated to do everything in his power to advocate, both privately and publicly, and to use the immense leverage that football has, with the Bahrain government, his own government, he’s a Bahrainian national, and also with the Thai government to release Hakeem. The silence of the Asian Football Confederation is not just confounding, it’s absolutely disgraceful,” he said.

    Source: 

    https://apnews.com/ee313c4f350646169658e73d76710f76

  • Al-Jazeera: Saudi woman's case boosts campaigners' hopes for held footballer
    January 10,2019

    Melbourne, Australia - Pressure is growing on Thailand to allow detained footballer Hakeem al-Araibi to return to Australia, where he was granted refugee status in 2017 after fleeing Bahrain, following a Saudi woman's successful campaign to halt efforts to deport her from the Southeast Asian country.

    Australia's Foreign Minister Marise Payne arrives in Bangkok on Thursday and has said she will push for Araibi's return to Australia.

    "Mr al-Araibi was granted permanent residency by the Australian government in recognition of his status as a refugee," Payne said in a statement before her departure.

    The 25-year-old played for Bahrain's national team before he fled the country some four years ago saying he had been tortured after being arrested in 2012.

    He was arrested by Thai police in November who said they were acting on an international arrest warrant - known as an Interpol "Red Notice" - issued by Bahrain, when the footballer arrived in Thailand for his honeymoon.

    "Australia has an extra responsibility to move heaven and earth to get Hakeem back to Australia, precisely because Australian police were the ones to tip off the Thai authorities that there was this Interpol Red Notice," Elaine Pearson, Australia director at Human Rights Watch (HRW), told Al Jazeera.

    The renewed interest in Araibi's case comes after Saudi asylum seeker Rahaf Mohammed Alqunun, 18, found herself facing deportation from Bangkok airport on Sunday. Alqunun, who said she risked death at the hands of her family if she were returned to Saudi Arabia, took to social media to press her case attracting global media attention as she frantically demanded to see the officials from the United Nations' refugee agency.

    Thai authorities eventually admitted Alqunun into the country and the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) recognised her as a refugee. Australia has said it will consider her case for asylum.

    "Great news that Thailand has allowed the UN to assess Rahaf rather than sending her back to the country from which she was seeking asylum," tweeted Radha Stirling, a human rights lawyer and CEO of advocacy group Detained in Dubai. "Thailand needs to allow Hakeem to return to Australia (and) stop Bahrain's legal abuse."

    Sydney protest

    Araibi's lawyer Nadthasiri Bergman says he has "held up very well" in detention.

    The lawyer said that she has been able to pass messages back to his wife in Australia, as he cannot use a phone or email in jail.

    "The only way they can [communicate with people outside] is to write a letter," she said. "If it's in Thai, it will take about two weeks; in English or any other language it's even longer."

    On Thursday, protesters will gather in front of the Sydney Opera House to highlight the footballer's prolonged detention. While Payne will be in Thailand, the demonstration also coincides with an AFC (Asian Football Confederation) Asian Cup match between Thailand and Bahrain, which is taking place in the United Arab Emirates.

    "We will be protesting to demand serious and immediate steps from the AFC, Thailand and Bahrain to guarantee Hakeem's safety," Fatima Yazbek, a spokesperson for the Gulf Institute for Democracy and Human Rights (GIDHR), the event's organiser, told Al Jazeera.

    "We think that without the pressure and the media and the football community, the Australian government wouldn't do much."

    According to HRW's Pearson, Thailand has a record of working with authoritarian governments to return citizens who are at risk in those countries.

    "They've done so in the past with China," she said. "I believe they have also done so in the past with Bahrain." In 2015, Bangkok deported some 100 people from the persecuted Uighur Muslim minority to China at the request of Beijing.

    Football diplomacy

    The football community in Australia has also intensified its lobbying efforts on behalf of Araibi, who was playing for a local Melbourne club before he was detained.

    "It's been wonderful to see the football community respond to Hakeem's situation and continue to advocate for one of their own," John Didulica, chief executive officer of Professional Footballers Australia, said in a video posted on social media.

    Pressure on world football's governing body FIFA, the AFC and the governments of Bahrain and Thailand needed to continue, he said.

    For Pearson, Araibi's case is a test for FIFA's human rights policy, which it adopted in mid-2017. While the body has called for Thailand to return Araibi to Australia, Pearson says they could be doing more.

    She would like to see FIFA send a high-level delegation to Bangkok to meet Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha and press for Araibi's release, highlight his case globally and mobilise players and clubs to voice their support.

    "FIFA is extremely influential and it needs to put its human rights policy into practice if it is serious about protecting human rights," she said.

    The organisation released a statement in support of Araibi on Wednesday evening, calling for the "humane and speedy resolution" of the case.

    Araibi's lawyer says she is confident that the footballer can be returned to Australia, but warned the process could take as long as a year.

    "We have to respect the Thai government," Bergman said. "They listen to the media, messages like 'if you send Rahaf back to Saudi Arabia, she will be in danger'," she said referencing what had happened with Alqunun. "If we are looking at a case like [Araibi's], I think there is a possibility of a good outcome."

    "Let's hope that the change of heart that the Thai government has had in Rahaf's case equally applies in Hakeem's case," Pearson said.

    Source:

    https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2019/01/saudi-woman-case-boosts-campaigners-hopes-held-footballer-190110014331399.html#

  • The Sydney Morning Herald: 'Courageous young man': footballer languishing in Thai jail
    January 10,2019

    In an ideal world, Hakeem al-Araibi would be taking to the football field for Bahrain against Thailand in the Asian Cup. Instead, the Australian-based refugee languishes in a Bangkok prison cell, cut off from his wife and family.

    Al-Araibi, 25, has been detained in Bangkok for 45 days, caught in a legal tug-of-war between the country he fled and his new home, as Australia and Bahrain have both petitioned Thai authorities to hand him over.

    Supporters urging him to be returned to Australia, where he is recognised as a refugee and has residency, rallied in Sydney on Thursday to seize on Foreign Affairs Minister Marise Payne's visit to Bangkok and the goodwill after Thailand moved to protect Saudi asylum seeker Rahaf al-Qunun.

    Ms Payne said Thailand was "most certainly aware" of the importance of al-Araibi's welfare to Australia, after she spoke to Thailand's Deputy Prime Minister and Justice Minister Prajin Juntong and Foreign Minister Don Pramudwinai on Thursday.


    "We are, as I have said, very concerned about his detention very concerned about any potential for the return of al-Araibi to Bahrain and I have reiterated those concerns to both (Thai) ministers," Ms Payne said.

    "I do note there are legal proceedings underway in relation to Mr al-Araibi and Australia will continue to be in very close contact with Thai authorities."

    Former Socceroo Craig Foster, speaking at the rally, said the coming days could prove crucial to al-Araibi's fate.

    "One of the reasons why we're so supportive, not just because he's a refugee and we feel strongly about it as Australians and as a football community, but also because ... he's a human rights defender," Foster said.

    "He's a very courageous young man who in 2016 stood up to the Bahraini government, stood up to Sheikh Salman [al-Khalifa] the president of the [Asian Football Confederation] and was critical of them publicly."

    Foster said al-Araibi was only 18 when the turmoil of the Arab Spring engulfed Bahrain, interrupting his career. If he had been allowed to continue at the elite level, there was no reason why he could not have stepped onto the pitch on Thursday for the Asian Cup.

    Fatima Yazbek, from the Gulf Institute for Democracy and Human Rights, said it was encouraging Senator Payne had promised to raise al-Araibi's case with Thai authorities.

    "Bahrain is a dangerous place for Hakeem today," she said. "There are more than 4000 prisoners of conscience in Bahraini prisons."

    Al-Araibi's older brother is among them, having been arrested in the crackdown after the Arab Spring.

    Al-Araibi, 25, was detained when he landed in Bangkok on November 27 for a belated honeymoon. He was sentenced to 10 years' jail in Bahrain on charges he denies, and said he was tortured there before he fled.

    He held an Australian travel document when he landed in Thailand but was detained. On December 3, he was handed a ticket and boarding pass for a Jetstar flight to Melbourne, but was returned to custody three hours before departure. In recent weeks he has been moved from immigration detention to regular prison, where he has access to lawyers but is isolated from his family.

    FIFA has also reaffirmed its desire for the Bahraini to be returned to Australia rather than extradited to his former homeland.

    "FIFA is therefore calling on all the relevant authorities (in Bahrain, Thailand and Australia) to take the necessary steps to ensure that Mr Hakeem Al-Araibi is allowed to return safely to Australia where he can resume his career as a professional footballer," world soccer's governing body said in a statement.

    Human Rights Watch Australia director Elaine Pearson said Thailand had a "terrible track record of collaborating with authoritarian regimes to return their citizens".

    "Hakeem should be reunited with his wife in Melbourne, and he should be playing for his club, Pascoe Vale," she said.

    "Under international law he is recognised as having fled persecution from Bahrain. This case really has ramifications far beyond Thailand and Australia, because if Hakeem is sent back to Bahrain it means that all refugees wherever they are in the world will live in fear of travelling to certain countries because of the risk they could be returned to the countries they fled persecution from."

    Amnesty International's Australian refugee coordinator Graham Thom said Ms al-Qunun's case showed the value of public pressure.

    "Hakeem should never have been treated in this way," he said.

    "This is an extraordinary situation, it would be an extraordinary breach of Thailand's human rights obligations. We know that he will be arrested, we know that he will be imprisoned, and we know that torture occurs in Bahrainian prisons."

    Source:

    https://www.smh.com.au/national/courageous-young-man-footballer-languishing-in-thai-jail-20190110-p50qji.html

  • The Guardian: Hakeem al-Araibi: Marise Payne lobbies Thailand to release refugee footballer
    January 10,2019

    Australia’s foreign affair minister has “reiterated” concerns about refugee footballer Hakeem al-Araibi at a meeting with Thai counterparts on Thursday, as pressure mounts to have him freed.

    Marise Payne, who has been calling for al-Araibi’s release since he was detained in late November, was in Bangkok for bilateral meetings and raised the cases of two refugees held by Thailand.

    “We are, as I’ve said, very concerned about his detention, very concerned about any potential for return of Mr Araibi to Bahrain,” she said.

    “I have reiterated those concerns to both ministers.”

    Al-Araibi was detained by Thai officials on the basis of an erroneous Interpol red notice over a vandalism conviction handed down in absentia at a Bahrain trial.

    “Mr Al-Araibi was granted permanent residency by the Australian government in recognition of his status as a refugee,” Payne had noted on Wednesday.

    In anticipation of Payne’s meeting, human rights organisations and advocates renewed pressure on the parties involved to free Al-Araibi.

    At a press conference and protest in Sydney, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, the Gulf Institute for Democracy and Human Rights, and high-profile football identities urged Payne to put “maximum pressure” on Thailand.

    Elaine Pearson, the Australian director of Human Rights Watch, said there were key questions for the Thai government and its decisions on Al-Araibi’s case, while separately agreeing to protect Saudi woman Rahaf Mohammed al-Qunun.

    Pearson said the Thai government had an “appalling record when it comes to collaborating with authoritarian regimes to return their citizens”, citing the deportations of Uighurs and another Bahraini dissident who was then imprisoned, beaten and tortured.

    Thailand and Bahrain have close investment relationships, and the Bahrain foreign affairs minister was scheduled to visit Thailand soon, Pearson said.

    “We are certainly concerned about why the Thai government is prioritising the relationship with the kingdom of Bahrain over its relationship with Australia.”

    Pearson said Al-Araibi was recognised under international law as a refugee.

    “If Hakeem is sent back to Bahrain it means all refugees, wherever they are in the world, will live in fear about travelling to certain countries because of the risk they could be returned to the countries they fled persecution from.”

    Graham Thom, refugee coordinator at Amnesty International Australia, said the spotlight was not just on Thailand, but on Asean, which Thailand was set to become chair of this year.

    “We need the global community to stand up and condemn the situation both from Thailand and Bahrain that [allowed] this to occur,” said Thom.

    “This is an extraordinary situation, it would be an extraordinary breach of Thailand’s human rights obligations [if he were returned],” he said.

    The world football body, Fifa, issued another press release on Thursday calling for “a humane and speedy resolution of the case” and his release.

    “This player, a Bahrain national, is currently being detained in prison in Thailand awaiting the outcome of extradition proceedings to Bahrain, where he was previously convicted of a criminal offence, the validity of which he strongly contests,” it said.

    It followed revelations by Guardian Australia that Fifa and executives from Football Federation Australia had met with Asian Football Confederation (AFC) president and Bahraini royal, Sheikh Salman Al-Khalifa, for the first time to discuss Al-Araibi’s case.

    Thursday’s protest group also called for world football bodies, including Fifa, to live up to their own human rights codes, and for the UNHCR to do more to help Al-Araibi as they had done for Qunun.

    They called for Sheikh Salman to make a public statement in support of Al-Araibi.

    Former Socceroo captain and football analyst Craig Foster said the silence of the AFC was completely unacceptable, particularly in the context of human rights policies enacted in recent years.

    “Sheikh Salman is obligated to support Hakeem, he is obligated to do everything in his power to advocate both privately and publicly, and to use the immense leverage that football has with the Bahrain government – his own government – and the Thai government,” said Foster.

    “The silence of the Asian Football Confederation is not just confounding, it’s absolutely disgraceful under our human rights obligations within the entire football community.”

    Fatima Yazbek, a spokeswoman for the Gulf Institute of Democracy and Human Rights, said there was personal conflict between Al-Araibi and Sheikh Salman, and Sheikh Salman was not fulfilling his obligations to protect the player.

    “He should do something, otherwise step down from your position and leave someone more qualified to fulfil the obligations of the position.”

    Source:

    https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2019/jan/10/marise-payne-lobbies-thailand-to-release-refugee-footballer-hakeem-al-araibi


  • The Guardian: Rahaf and Hakeem: why has one refugee captured the world's attention while another is left in jail?
    January 10,2019
    Australia, Thailand and the Gulf states have been inextricably linked in two global news stories lately, when two young people faced being forcibly returned to the places and people they fled simply because they happened to step foot in Bangkok.

    Rahaf Mohammed al-Qunun, an 18-year-old Saudi woman, was on her way to Australia seeking its protection. Twenty-five-year-old Hakeem al-Araibi, heading to Thailand with his wife for their honeymoon, already had it.

    Both Al-Araibi and Qunun have captured international headlines – far more than many others in similarly dire situations. But there is no denying Qunun’s case has drawn more support, including, crucially, from the government of Thailand

    ‘I’m sure, 100%, they will kill me’

    Qunun obtained a tourist visa for Australia, where she intended to claim asylum. She fled her family when they went on a trip to Kuwait and flew to Bangkok, but says she was met on arrival by a Saudi diplomat and was tricked into handing over her passport.

    The teenager fears her family will kill her for renouncing Islam – a crime punishable by death under Saudi Arabia’s sharia law – and barricaded herself in the airport hotel room, demanding to speak to the United Nations high commission for refugees (UNHCR).

    “I am Rahaf … I am in the hotel, I need a country to protect me as soon as possible. I am seeking asylum,” she said.

    “My family is strict and locked me in a room for six months just for cutting my hair.

    “I’m sure, 100%, they will kill me as soon as I get out of the Saudi jail.

    Thai authorities initially said she was a runaway and was unsafe without a guardian, but eventually bowed to pressure, allowing the UNHCR to visit.

    “She is now under the sovereignty of Thailand,” said the head of Thai immigration, General Surachate Hakparn. “No one and no embassy can force her to go anywhere. Thailand is a land of smiles. We will not send anyone to die.”

    She was sent to an undisclosed location, protected by the Thai government. The UNHCR assessed her to be a refugee in need of protection and Australia has said it will consider resettling her.

    ‘My life will end if I go to Bahrain’

    Bahraini national, now Australian resident, Hakeem al-Araibi, was a member of the Bahrain national football team. Al-Araibi claims he was imprisoned and tortured by Bahraini authorities amid a crackdown on athletes taking part in pro-democracy rallies during the Arab Spring, and he fled to Australia and sought asylum in 2011.

    In 2014 he was sentenced in absentia to 10 years’ jail at a Bahraini trial beset by claims of coerced confessions, ignored evidence and bias. The conviction related to an act of vandalism which occurred at the same time – or at least not long after – al-Araibi was playing in a televised football match.
    In 2017 he was given formal refugee status by Australia.

    The previous year he had spoken out publicly against Bahraini royal and president of the Asian Football Confederation, Sheikh Salman al-Khalifa, for his lack of action defending the athletes in 2011 when he was head of the Bahrain Football Association.

    In late November Al-Araibi and his wife went to Thailand on a delayed honeymoon. He was arrested on arrival by Thai authorities who said they were acting on a red notice from Interpol. Despite the withdrawal of the red notice – which should never have been issued – Thai authorities said Bahrain had separately requested his detention prior to his arrival anyway, and Al-Araibi remains in a Thai prison.

    “I don’t want to stay here,” Al-Araibi told Guardian Australia from detention. “I’m a refugee in Australia. I’m scared of the Bahraini government … They will kill me. I don’t know what’s going to happen there. My life will end if I go to Bahrain.”

    Stark questions remain about the actions or potential mistakes of Interpol, the Australian federal police, its immigration department and communications between Thailand and Bahrain.

    Al-Araibi has applied for Australian citizenship but Australia’s immigration department has not yet granted it and the immigration minister will not comment on it.

    Australia’s foreign affairs minister, Marise Payne, has publicly called for Al-Araibi’s release and was due to meet Thai officials on Thursday, but Thailand continues to process Bahrain’s extradition request.

    Human Rights Watch has worked closely with both cases, and the UNHCR and Amnesty International are among international human rights groups to publicly lobby for both.

    Qunun is not yet out of danger, but her situation, just days after she was stopped at Bangkok airport, is markedly more positive than that of Al-Araibi, who has been locked up for 45 days and counting.

    So why the difference?

    ‘I wish you had taken her phone’

    The reasons are varied but likely include the age-old non-science of what makes news and what doesn’t.

    Al-Araibi’s case is also much more complicated based on the known facts, and being subject to an Interpol red notice might have suggested Al-Araibi’s arrest was legitimate.

    Qunun was able to get on social media with videos and urgent personal pleas immediately and prolifically. An army of loud and committed online supporters rose up after Egyptian-American journalist Mona Eltahawy translated and shared her posts.

    In a meeting with Thai immigration, a Saudi official noted the 45,000 followers she quickly gained, and remarked in Arabic: “I wish you had taken her phone, it would have been better than [taking] her passport.”

    Al-Araibi, while he also had a phone and was able to speak directly to journalists and send photos in the first days of his detention, did not attract the instant focus. Some media was far slower – particularly in Australia – to pick up on it, despite the story’s stronger links to the country than Qunun.

    Supporters rallied and international media reported the situation, but the chatter didn’t break through to mainstream audiences to the same degree, even when panicked phone calls reported he had been bundled away by Thai authorities and his wife told she would not see him again.

    Small protests were held outside Thai consulates in Australia, and the Victorian football community and global players associations rallied. Football Federation Australia, Fifa and the Asian Football Confederation were deafeningly silent for weeks, and even now direct their messages at governments instead of the influential Bahrainis among their own executives.

    ‘They didn’t forget what he did’

    There is perhaps a greater awareness of the horrendous danger to people – particularly women – in Saudi Arabia than of what Al-Araibi faces in Bahrain. The Saudi regime was cast further into the spotlight when journalist Jamal Khashoggi was murdered in October.

    Women face extraordinary oppression. Under the Saudi guardianship system almost every aspect of a Saudi woman’s life is controlled by a male guardian. They are forbidden from travelling without a male relative as escort, cannot apply for a passport, get medical treatment or seek an education without permission.

    Eltahawy said Qunun represented a “breath of fresh air” who had showed Saudi women they could demand freedom and dignity.

    In April 2017, Dina Ali Lasloom, a 24-year-old Saudi woman, was forcibly returned by the Philippines, despite social media pleas, and hasn’t been heard from since

    Fatima Yazbek of the Gulf Institute for Democracy and Human Rights (GIDHR) notes the death penalty is still carried out on political opponents in Bahrain, citing three executions in 2017, including one sports teacher.

    Human rights organisations have documented countless cases of abuse, torture and arbitrary imprisonment of dissidents, including those who sought to flee only to be deported by cooperative governments where they landed.

    Bangkok is implicated in more than one instance of a dissident returned to a Bahraini prison cell, where they were beaten and tortured.

    Government announcements and local news in recent weeks have reported tax deals and large-scale property developments between Thailand and Bahrain.

    “Hakeem is now the icon for the suffering of political detainees in Bahrain,” said GIDHR’s Yahya Alhadid.

    A royal family rules Bahrain and populates about half of the cabinet positions, as well as other important roles including the ambassadorship to the UK

    The current Bahraini ambassador to the UK is Shaikh Fawaz bin Mohammed al-Khalifa, who was also chair of the information authority in 2011, when state television broadcast pictures and footage of protesting athletes, labelling them as traitors

    The London embassy issued the only public statement from Bahrain, in the days after Al-Araibi’s arrest, defending the red notice.

    Alhadid questioned why the London embassy was commenting on a Bahraini who now lived in Australia and was detained in Thailand.

    “After Hakeem spoke out they didn’t forget what he did,” he suggested.

    Source:

    https://amp.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/jan/10/why-has-one-refugee-captured-the-worlds-attention-while-another-is-left-in-jail?CMP=share_btn_tw&__twitter_impression=true

  • FIFA calls for "humane and speedy resolution" in Bahraini footballer extradition case
    January 10,2019

    World football's governing body FIFA has called for a "humane and speedy resolution" of the case concerning refugee footballer Hakeem Al-Araibi, who is currently being detained in prison in Thailand awaiting the outcome of extradition proceedings to his home country of Bahrain.

    Bahrain sentenced Al-Araibi to 10 years in prison in 2014 for allegedly vandalising a police station during Arab Spring protests in the nation.

    The player, who denies the charges, has not served his sentence after fleeing to Australia where he now lives under refugee status.

    He was arrested in Bangkok on an Interpol warrant having travelled with his wife for their honeymoon and claims he would fear for his life if he was returned to Bahrain.

    A statement released by FIFA on the matter reads: "Following a renewed exchange with the Australian Football Federation, FIFA is again calling for a humane and speedy resolution of the case concerning the player Hakeem Al-Araibi.

    "This player, a Bahrain national, is currently being detained in prison in Thailand awaiting the outcome of extradition proceedings to Bahrain, where he was previously convicted of a criminal offense, the validity of which he strongly contests.

    "This situation should not have arisen, in particular, since Mr Al-Araibi now lives and works and plays as a professional footballer in Australia, where he has been accorded refugee status.

    "FIFA is therefore calling on all the relevant authorities (in Bahrain, Thailand and Australia) to take the necessary steps to ensure that Mr Hakeem Al-Araibi is allowed to return safely to Australia where he can resume his career as a professional footballer."

    Australia's Minister for Foreign Affairs, Marise Payne, reiterated concerns about Al-Araibi at a meeting with Thai officials in Bangkok.

    "We are, as I've said, very concerned about his detention, very concerned about any potential for return of Mr Al-Araibi to Bahrain," she was reported as saying by The Guardian.

    "I have reiterated those concerns to both Ministers."

    Payne also noted that "Mr Al-Araibi was granted permanent residency by the Australian Government in recognition of his status as a refugee".

    Prior to Payne's meeting, human rights organisations and advocates renewed pressure on the relevant parties to free Al-Araibi.

    A press conference and protest has been held in Sydney, where Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, the Gulf Institute for Democracy and Human Rights were among those to call for Payne to exert "maximum pressure" on Thailand.

    Earlier this month, campaign group #NewFIFANow used the start of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Asian Cup in the United Arab Emirates to call on AFC President Sheikh Salman Bin Ibrahim Al-Khalifa to intervene in the case of Al-Araibi.

    According to The Guardian Australia, FIFA and executives from Football Federation Australia have met with Sheikh Salman to discuss the matter.

    Source:

    https://www.insidethegames.biz/articles/1074034/fifa-calls-for-humane-and-speedy-resolution-in-bahraini-footballer-extradition-case

  • The Guardian: Australian football executives meet Bahraini royal over detained footballer Hakeem al-Araibi
    January 09,2019

    Australia’s football federation executives have finally met with the president of the Asian Football Confederation and Bahraini royal, Sheikh Salman al-Khalifa, more than 40 days after Hakeem al-Araibi was detained in Thailand.

    Al-Araibi is a Bahraini dissident who has lived in Australia for four years, and is a permanent resident with refugee status on the basis of his fear of persecution in Bahrain.

    The meeting is understood to have occurred at the AFC Asian Cup football championships in the United Arab Emirates, with FFA chair Chris Nikou expressing Australia’s desire to have al-Araibi freed and returned.

    It follows weeks of criticism of the football bodies, as well as the international organisation Fifa, for an apparent lack of advocacy on behalf of the detained 26-year-old footballer.

    Australia’s foreign minister, Marise Payne, announced a visit to Thailand on Wednesday afternoon. She said as part of her trip, she would “advocate for the safe return to Australia of Mr Hakeem Alaraibi, who is currently detained in Thailand. Mr Alaraibi was granted permanent residency by the Australian government in recognition of his status as a refugee.”

    Both FFA and the AFC declined to comment on the Asian Cup meeting or the attendance of Sheikh Salman.

    When asked for further detail, FFA said it had been in contact with Australian officials since al-Araibi’s detention.

    “FFA confirms it has also held direct dialogue with senior officials from Fifa, AFC and the Football Association of Thailand,” a spokesman said.

    The AFC said it was “working with Fifa and other stakeholders”, and FFA said it “remains in contact with the Australian government and continues to advocate for the release” of al-Araibi.

    “FFA requests the governments of Australia, Thailand and Bahrain to continue their efforts to enable the release of Mr Hakeem al-Araibi and to ensure his safe return to Australia in accordance with internationally recognised human rights conventions.”

    Al-Araibi was detained at Bangkok airport in November on an erroneously-issued Interpol red notice which raised questions about the internal processes of Interpol, the Australian Federal Police, and the home affairs department.

    He is currently in a Bangkok prison while a Thai court assesses Bahrain’s extradition request. He was recently told he could no longer use the phone, meaning his wife and family in Australia are unable to contact him.

    Al-Araibi’s lawyers have lodged a citizenship application with Australia in an attempt to strengthen the country’s ability to demand his return, but have not received a response.

    The Australian government has reportedly said it will consider offering a humanitarian visa to Saudi woman, Rahaf al-Qunun, who was also arrested in Bangkok this week and was facing deportation.

    The arrest of al-Araibi has drawn international condemnation and numerous human rights organisations and football groups are campaigning for his release.

    However Fifa, the AFC, and FFA have all been criticised for their muted responses or silence.

    The day after al-Araibi was arrested, senior executives of FFA met with Sheikh Salman, and tweeted a picture from the FFA account. A spokesman told Guardian Australia they were unaware of the situation at the time, but there has not been any apparent contact since, until the Asian Cup meeting.

    Yahya al-Hadid, of the Gulf Institute for Democracy and Human Rights (GIDHR) said the football community, particularly in Australia, had rallied behind al-Araibi alongside human rights defenders, but there were question marks around the larger bodies like Fifa.

    “If their relationship to Gulf states is affecting their responses, it raises the question: are they independent?” he said.

    “The silence of Fifa is concerning … also the silence of the AFC and its president. Don’t they have ethical rights and responsibilities to protect their members?”

    Former Socceroos captain and football commentator, Craig Foster, likened the situation to a “perfect storm” of football politics, with no one apparently willing to ruffle feathers ahead of two elections in 2019 – for the AFC and Fifa leaderships.

    Sheikh Salman is seeking reelection to the AFC presidency, and FFA chair Nikou is seeking a place on the AFC executive committee.

    Sheikh Salman is a member of the Bahraini royal family and was specifically criticised by al-Araibi in media interviews in 2016 for his lack of assistance when he and other Bahraini athletes were targeted.

    The athletes were caught up in a crackdown on pro-democracy protests during the Arab Spring. Al-Araibi was tried and convicted in absentia in a trial which was clouded by accusations of coerced confessions and the ignoring of key evidence.

    “His own government is requesting the extradition of the player, he’s part of the royal family and clearly has great sway there and yet to date … appears to have done absolutely nothing to advocate for Hakeem’s rights,” Foster said last month.

    Source:

    https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2019/jan/09/australian-football-executives-meet-bahraini-royal-over-detained-footballer-hakeem-al-araibi

  • GIDHR tour in Australia to Save Hakeem Alariabi
    January 08,2019
  • ABC: Calls for Australia to help Saudi woman in Bangkok
    January 07,2019

    Human rights groups and the Greens are calling on the Government to intervene in the case of a young Saudi woman who says she is facing forced return to her family.

    The woman, Rahaf Alqunun, says she was apprehended in transit in Thailand while en route to Australia.

    Experts say while Australia may have a moral obligation to speak out on the case, there is no legal imperative.

    More Information

    Featured:

    Dina Ali Lasoom, Saudi citizen
    Rahaf Alqunun, Saudi citizen
    Fatima Yazbek, Gulf Institute for Democracy and Human Rights
    Sarah Hanson-Young, Greens senator
    Professor Jane McAdam, Kaldor Centre for International Refugee Law, University of New South Wales

    Source:

  • Football Today: AFC President urged to intervene in the case of Hakeem Al-Araibi
    January 05,2019

    Football reform campaign group, #NewFIFANow, has called on the President of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC), Shaikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa, to use his influence to free Hakeem Al-Araibi from a Bangkok jail.
     
    As we have previously written about, the case of refugee football player Hakeem Al-Araibi involves three countries taking part in the Asian Cup: Australia, Thailand, and Bahrain, the nation of Shaikh Salman.
     
    Al-Araibi has been in jail in Bangkok since November, after he travelled there with his wife for a holiday.
     
    “As a refugee with legal rights and specific status under international refugee conventions, Mr Al-Araibi is entitled to protection because of the refugee status granted to him by the Australian government. The Thai government should let this young man go, and the Bahrain government should not be seeking his return to Bahrain,” said #NewFIFANow spokesman, Jaimie Fuller.
     
    Al-Araibi was allegedly detained by Thai authorities on the request of the Bahrain government when they learned he was travelling out of Australia. 

    According to Fatima Yazbek of the Gulf Institute for Democracy and Human Rights (GIDHR), Al-Araibi has also been unable to see or speak with his wife for the past three weeks, or use the 'phone, internet or communicate with human rights advocates. 

    “Once the courts set a date for his hearing he was transferred to a prison. We have not been able to contact him via 'phone anymore and recently he's even not allowed to have access to paper and a pen,” Ms Yazbek said in a statement to Football Today.

    “We've tried to have permission granted to send him letters or have him send them to his wife, but prison authorities refused.”

    Ms Yazbek also called on the Australian Foreign Minister, Senator Marise Payne, to raise Al-Araibi's case when she visits Thailand in the near future.  

    “We call on her to raise Hakeem’s case with her Thai counterpart, and put pressure on Thai authorities to allow Al-Araibi to return back to Melbourne and prevent his extradition to Bahrain, which are creating various kinds of torture to take revenge of their opponents.”

    Ms Yazbek said that GIDHR is yet to receive any explanation from Australian authorities as to why Al-Araibi was detained. She said that, under international refugee conventions, Al-Araibi should be afforded protection when overseas which is what he had been assured by Australian authorities. 

    According to #NewFIFANow, the AFC President is in a unique position to influence the Al-Araibi case. 

    “We all know that the President of the Asian Football Confederation, Shaikh Salman, is an important member of the Bahrain Royal Family, and it is entirely within his power to order that Mr Al-Araibi’s illegal detention in Thailand cease, and allow him to travel home to Australia immediately,” said Mr Fuller.

    “We also all know that Hakeem Al-Araibi was a vocal critic of Shaikh Salman’s candidacy for the FIFA President in 2016.
     
    “Despite that criticism, we would be shocked if Shaikh Salman condoned the flagrant disregard of international conventions regarding the right and status of refugees, and we call on him to urge the Bahrain government to stop their reported action against a vulnerable individual.
     
    “Mr Al-Araibi is also a football player in one of Australia’s domestic competitions. 
     
    “Considering Asia’s biggest football tournament is about to get underway, with Australia, Bahrain and Thailand all involved, Shaikh Salman could show the football world that he respects the rule of international law and champion the freedom of Hakeem Al-Araibi.
     
    “Living in Australia, playing football and contributing to the Australian community, Mr Al-Araibi is doing Shaikh Salman, the Bahrain Royal Family or the good people of Bahrain no harm.
     
    “By keeping Mr Al-Araibi in jail in Thailand, at the request of the Bahrain government, immeasurable harm is being done to the reputation of both the Bahrain and Thai governments,” Mr Fuller said. 

    #NewFIFANow has urged football supporters, human rights advocates, and players to help #SaveHakeem by use of the hashtag in English or in Arabic  أنقذوا_حكيم# on social media and by writing to relevant football and government authorities.

    Source:

  • SBS: 'Hakeem is one of us': Footballers demand intervention for detained refugee
    December 24,2018

    Australian footballers including former Socceroo captain Craig Foster and A-League champion Rodrigo Vargas have demanded the Australian government and global football community do more to help detained refugee Hakeem Al-Araibi.

    They joined representatives from human rights groups, Mr Al-Araibi's legal team and members from Football Victoria and Pascoe Vale FC in Melbourne on Saturday to ask for immediate intervention.

    The semi-professional football player is being held indefinitely in Bangkok after being arrested over an incorrectly issued Interpol Red Notice last month.

    Mr Foster implored both FIFA and the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) to "leverage their status as leading global institutions to ensure the protection of a member of the football family".

    "Australia's footballers implore FIFA and the AFC to comply with their own rules of governance to demand the return of Hakeem to Australia," he said.

    "FIFA and the AFC have a constitutional obligation to not only observe the human rights of their participants but proactively promote such rights."

    He later tweeted, "Hakeem is one of us, football stands with him".

    Mr Vargas, a former team-mate of Mr Al-Araibi said: "football is about building communities and building teams that protect the members that need help".

    "Hakeem is an incredible young man and I have seen his bravery first hand as a former team-mate. The entire football community, from top to bottom, must come together to support him. It is what a real community does."

    While Fatima Yazbek of the Gulf Institute of Democracy and Human Rights said, "Australia granted Hakeem refugee status because they are aware of the grim future waiting for him in Bahrain".

    "The Australian Government should keep their ethical, moral, and humanitarian duties for the people they accepted to protect."

    Source:

    https://www.sbs.com.au/yourlanguage/korean/en/article/2018/12/23/hakeem-one-us-footballers-demand-intervention-detained-refugee

  • The Age: Soccer community demands action to bring Hakeem al-Araibi home
    December 22,2018

    Australia’s soccer community is demanding the federal government step up its fight to bring home a Melbourne-based refugee footballer as fears for his safety grow.

    Hakeem al-Araibi, who was granted refugee status by Australia after he fled Bahrain, is being held in a Thai detention centre following an incorrectly-issued Interpol red notice flagging his arrival in Thailand.

    Araibi’s supporters say the Pascoe Vale Football Club defender has a “very real chance” of being extradited to Bahrain, where he faces imprisonment and torture after being convicted in absentia for a crime he says he didn’t commit.

    Members of Professional Footballers Australia, Gulf Institute for Democracy and Human Rights, Amnesty Australia, and former Socceroos captain Craig Foster and player Rodrigo Vargas, on Saturday called for Foreign Minister Marise Payne to visit Araibi, and for the Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton to expedite his citizenship approval.


    If the Australian government was to grant Araibi Australian citizenship, it would potentially make it more politically difficult for Thailand to extradite him to Bahrain.


    World soccer governing body FIFA has joined the fight to save Araibi from being extradited, but the Asian Football Confederation has so far remained silent.

    Asian Football Confederation is headed by Sheikh Salman Bin Ibrahim al-Khalifa, who was the former president of the Bahrain Football Association and a member of Bahrain’s ruling family.

    After fleeing, Araibi spoke out against Sheikh Salman, accusing him of allowing the torture and imprisonment of members of the national team who supported the Arab Spring protests in 2011.

    Foster called on Sheikh Salman to stand up for human rights or vacate the AFC presidency.

    “I’m extremely concerned for Hakeem because we have to understand he’s become embroiled in something of a political web … and a life is at stake here,” Foster said.

    “It’s one of the reasons why we’re being so vocal. We’re asking for the [AFC presidency] office to be upheld in the correct manner right now and if any president feels incapable of doing so, they should vacate the office and allow someone to carry out the duties of the office according to the expectation of the football community.”

    It remains unclear how Bahrain learned Araibi was travelling to Thailand and had obtained a red notice, which is against Interpol guidelines that ban notices placed on refugees.

    The Interpol red notice seeking his arrest was issued on November 8 this year, according to Fatima Yazbek of the Australia-based Gulf Institute for Democracy and Human Rights.

    “We urge that the Australian government work harder because there is much more to do. The Australian government granted him a protection visa and they have a moral, ethical and humanitarian duty to protect him. We hope that the foreign minister makes a bilateral visit immediately,” Ms Yazbek said.

    Araibi’s coach at Pascoe Vale Football Club, Vitale Ferrante, described the 25-year-old as “humble, very respectful and very polite”.

    “But on the training pitch he was just a winner,” Ferrante said. “He had this never-say-die attitude … going into the games. We finished the season strongly and he was a major part of that.”

    Source:

    https://www.theage.com.au/national/victoria/soccer-community-demands-action-to-bring-hakeem-al-araibi-home-20181222-p50nwg.html

  • Green Left: Aust govt must act to stop deportaton of Bahraini refugee
    December 21,2018

    Bahraini refugee Hakeem Al-Araibi has been held in detention in Thailand since November 27, facing the terrifying prospect of deportation to the country where he was tortured.

    Al-Araibi fled to Australia in 2014 and was accepted as a refugee. In November, he travelled on UN travel documents to Thailand for a short holiday with his wife. When he arrived at Bangkok airport, Al-Araibi was arrested under an Interpoll “Red Notice” (an international arrest warrant) issued by the Bahrain government.

    Interpol is not meant to issue red notices for refugees, so this red notice should never have been issued for Al-Araibi. The Interpol system of red notices has been widely discredited, because countries with terrible human rights records use them against political dissidents.

    Interpol realised that Al-Araibi was a refugee on December 3 and withdrew the notice. Al-Araibi should have been released on December 11, but the Thai authorities decided to extend his detention for 60 more days to prepare for his extradition to Bahrain.

    The international outcry over the detention and possible deportation of Al-Araibi has drawn attention to the discredited system of Red Notices, the threat to refugees, and the role of the Australian government in the whole affair.

    The Australian government initially told the Thai authorities they had no responsibility for Al-Araibi because he was not an Australian citizen. The Australian officials should have said the Australian government had a responsibility to defend Al-Araibi because he had been granted refugee status due to political persecution. That might have resolved the situation.

    Instead, the Australian government has been shamed by the international outcry into taking a stronger position in support of Al-Araibi. The Bahraini diaspora, the Gulf Institute for Democracy and Human Rights, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have all campaigned strongly for the release of Al-Araibi and for him to have the right to return to Australia.

    Since then, the football community has joined the campaign. Al-Araibi played soccer for the Bahrain national team and in Australia he plays for the Pascoe Vale Football Club. Former Socceroo and current SBS commentator Craig Foster has been outspoken in calling for Al-Araibi to be returned to Australia. Other senior soccer players to speak out in support of Al-Araibi are former Socceroo Craig Moore and ex-captain Paul Wade. FIFA (Fédération Internationale de Football Association) and the Football Federation Australia (FFA) are also supporting the campaign.

    However, the Asian Football Confederation president, Bahraini royal Sheik Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa, has been silent. Craig Foster has called on him to support Al-Araibi or resign.

    The international pressure and local community pressure has forced the Australian government to reveal its own shady role in the detention of Al-Araibi.

    A statement from the Thai Ministry of Foreign Affairs stated that the detention of Al-Araibi had been carried out in response to the red notice alert received from the Interpol National Central Bureau of Australia as well as the formal request from the Bahraini government for Al-Araibi’s extradition.

    The question that needs to be asked is on whose authority did the Australian Interpol office issue a red alert, especially when this is in breach of Interpol’s protocols that such notices cannot be used against refugees? Secondly, why didn’t the Australian authorities intervene immediately after Al-Araibi’s arrest to tell the Thai authorities that Al-Araibi is a refugee?

    Al-Araibi’s lawyers have lodged a request for ministerial intervention to grant citizenship to Al-Araibi.

    Fatima Yazbek of the Gulf Institute for Democracy and Human Rights called on the Australian government, especially the Minister of Home Affairs Peter Dutton, to grant Al-Araibi Australian citizenship to save him from the imminent danger he will face if deported to Bahrain.

    Yazbec said: “Bahraini prisons lack the minimum standards of prisoners’ rights, and the political prisoners are suffering from miserable conditions and lack of basic rights.

    “The repression against the opponents of the Gulf States, especially following the murder of the Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi and the death penalties issued against Saudi human rights activists, gives an indication of what is awaiting Hakeem Al-Araibi in the Bahraini prisons.

    “We call on all the sports and football community to demand granting Hakeem the Australian citizenship,” she added.

    Al-Ariabi has good reason to be terrified at the prospect of being sent to Bahrain. He was arrested and tortured by the Bahraini authorities, allegedly due to the political activities of his brother. After Al-Araibi fled the country, the Bahraini authorities sentenced him for vandalising a police station. Al-Araibi was known to be playing football at the time the authorities claim he was vandalising the police station.

    According to Human Rights Watch, Bahrain’s human rights situation continued to worsen in 2017: “Authorities shut down the country’s only independent newspaper and the leading secular-left opposition political society. The country’s preeminent human rights defender remained in prison on speech charges. The government, ending a de facto moratorium on use of the death penalty, executed three people in January following unfair trials, despite their alleging that they had been tortured and their confessions coerced.”

    Source:

    https://www.greenleft.org.au/content/savehakeem-stop-deportation-bahraini-refugee

  • The Guardian: Hakeem al-Araibi: Australia pours cold water on citizenship bid for refugee footballer
    December 20,2018

    The Department of Home Affairs has poured cold water on a pitch to have citizenship granted on Australian-based refugee footballer Hakeem al-Araibi, in a bid to help free him from a Thai jail where he awaits deportation to Bahrain.

    Lawyers for Al-Araibi, supported by the Gulf Institute for Democracy and Human Rights (GIDHR), lodged an appeal with Peter Dutton this week, seeking his intervention on Al-Araibi’s case.

    They argued giving Al-Araibi citizenship would bolster his chances of being returned to Australia instead of deported to Bahrain – the country he fled and was granted refugee status from.

    “This request requires emergency government intervention and marks Australia’s stance on protecting legitimate refugees,” said lawyer Latifa al-Haouli.

    “This is a matter of national interest, far exceeding the criteria of public interest used to assess ministerial interventions.”

    The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, which began assisting Al-Araibi almost immediately upon his detention through consular staff in Bangkok, was limited in what it could provide or demand because he is not a citizen.

    However the Department of Home Affairs said on Wednesday the minister did not have the power to automatically grant citizenship.

    “All persons applying for Australian citizenship must meet the legal requirements under the Australian Citizenship Act 2007 in order to be granted citizenship,” it said.

    “Neither the minister, nor the department have the power to waive any of the legal requirements in the Australian Citizenship Act 2007.”

    Al-Araibi’s supporters argue the act allows ministerial discretion.

    “We urge the Australian government, especially the minister of home affairs, Mr Peter Dutton, to grant Hakeem al-Araibi the Australian citizenship attempting to save his life from the imminent danger he will face if deported to Bahrain,” said GIDHR spokeswoman Fatima Yazbek.

    “Bahraini prisons lack the minimum standards of prisoners’ rights, and the political prisoners are suffering from miserable conditions and lack of their basic rights.”

    Al-Araibi was arrested on arrival in Bangkok three weeks ago on an Interpol red notice which has since been withdrawn.

    Questions remain about how Bahrain learned he was traveling to Thailand, how they were then able to obtain a red notice against Interpol guidelines banning notices against refugees, and why no flags were raised in Australia when its federal police force informed Thailand of his travel plans.

    The Australian government has demanded his immediate return.

    Al-Araibi has drawn vocal support from the footballing community in Australia and internationally, as well as from high-profile figures including the former Socceroos captains Craig Foster, Craig Moore, Alex Tobin and Paul Wade.

    International football bodies, including the World Players’ Union, have lobbied directly the president of the Asian Football Confederation, Sheikh Salman bin Ebrahim al-Khalifa.

    Al-Khalifa is a member of the royal Bahraini family, and was a target of public criticism by Al-Araibi in 2016 for failing to protect Bahraini athletes targeted for their or their families’ involvement in the failed Arab Spring uprising.

    “We understand the circumstances … are well known to you, together with the details of the request from Bahrain for Mr Hakeem’s extradition,” the union wrote.

    “The game cannot see any refugee footballer suffer harm under its watch. No issue is more important to football as a global and universal game than protecting vulnerable people such as refugee players from detention and torture.”

    Senior executives of Football Federation Australia met with Al-Khalifa the day after Al-Araibi was detained, but say they did not know at the time. FFA has not said it has since reached out to him.

    Foreign politicians have also voiced their support, either urging Thailanddirectly to return Al-Araibi to Australia or calling on their own governments to use diplomatic sway.

    In the UK, Liberal Democrat peer Lord Scriven publicly appealed to the British ambassador in Thailand to support Australia’s efforts.

    “I am extremely concerned for Mr Al-Araibi’s welfare and am alarmed by the Thai authorities’ decision to detain and even consider his extradition when there is absolutely no legal basis,” Scriven wrote to the ambassador.

    “I have raised the issue already in parliament by submitting a written question to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, but would appreciate seeing some action on the ground.”

    If he is deported, Al-Araibi’s plight has greater implications for the sanctity of refugee status internationally. The deputy Asia director of Human Rights Watch, Phil Robertson, told Guardian Australia last week if Thailand gives him to Bahrain it would mean no refugee could ever safely travel through Thailand.

  • The Sydney Morning Herald: Detained Melbourne refugee footballer could spend six months in Thai jail
    December 10,2018

    The 25-year-old refugee soccer player from Melbourne, Hakeem al-Araibi, is facing six months in immigration detention - despite having committed no crime in Thailand.

    That's the pessimistic assessment of Natalie Bergman, Mr al-Araibi's lawyer, ahead of a hearing in a Thai court on Tuesday.

    At Tuesday's hearing, Thai authorities will seek permission to keep Mr al-Araibi in detention while the extradition request from Bahrain is processed - rather than actually dealing with the details of the extradition request itself.

    Ms Bergman, in turn, will ask the court to grant her client bail - though she indicated that that request was unlikely to be approved.

    "It will probably take six months [Mr al-Araibi's case]. I don’t know if they [Bahrain] can submit the official request within 60 days. And then I have to submit his arguments and the court has to set hearings. It could be longer than six months" she said.

    "If a judge says no to the extradition request, the prosecutors could appeal."

    Until that time, Ms Bergman said, Mr al-Araibi would likely remain in custody in a Thai immigration detention centre - unless the bail request was approved.

    Mr al-Araibi was arrested by Thai authorities about two weeks ago at Bahrain's request.

    He was picked up after a so-called Interpol red notice – a form of international arrest warrant that is not supposed to apply to refugees - was issued.

    And while that red notice has been lifted, he remains in detention in Thailand because Bahrain has formally requested he be extradited.

    Australia's Foreign Minister, Marise Payne, has demanded Thailand immediately release the soccer player, who plays for Pascoe Vale Football Club in the Victorian Premier League, and allow him to return to Australia.

    "Returning Mr al-Araibi to Bahrain, from where he fled, would contravene his rights under international human rights law," Ms Payne has said

    Mr al-Araibi is originally from Bahrain. He says he was tortured by authorities in his home country in 2012 and he fled in 2014.

    Bahrain, in turn, has accused him of vandalising a police station - for which he received a 10-year sentence, in absentia - a charge Mr al-Araibi has denied, arguing he was playing in a soccer match for his team Alshabab (which was broadcast on live TV) at the time of the alleged incident.

    The Australian government has recognised him as a refugee and granted permanent residency in Australia.

    He had travelled to Thailand for a holiday, with his wife, on papers issued by the Australian government.

    Human Rights Watch and the Gulf Institute for Democracy and Human Rights have also strongly protested against Mr al-Araibi's arrest and detention.

    Source:

    https://www.smh.com.au/world/asia/detained-melbourne-refugee-footballer-could-spend-six-months-in-thai-jail-20181210-p50lbr.html

  • The Sydney Morning Herald: Seeking only a holiday, Bahraini steps into an international crisis
    December 09,2018

    All he wanted was a holiday. Hakeem al-Araibi, a 25-year-old refugee making a reputation for himself as a tough defender in Victorian Premier League football, landed in Bangkok with his wife in late November only to find he had not escaped the Bahraini government’s clutches.

    Thai authorities detained him as the subject of an Interpol Red Notice. Even after it was lifted, Bahrain wanted him in jail ostensibly for vandalising a police station.

    The damage is said to have happened while Araibi was playing for the national team. There are suspicions he was really wanted because his older brother was active during the Arab Spring.

    Araibi, described by those at Pascoe Vale FC and friends in Melbourne and Sydney as quiet, loyal and “a brother to us all”, also spoke out against an influential royal in 2016, and claimed to have been tortured before he fled in 2014.

    It was not for nothing Australia granted him refugee status, permanent residency and the travel documents he needed for his first proper holiday with his wife.

    “It was like their honeymoon,” said Ghassan Khamis, who helped Araibi with his refugee claim.

    Even knowing his status, and despite having a Jetstar ticket to return to Australia in his hand on December 1, Thailand opted to detain him some more.

    A court ruled on Monday he remain in the Suan Phlu immigration detention centre for a further 12 days while evidence was gathered. When he was moved from the airport, his wife feared he had been taken from her forever. On Friday, rights groups said he was in imminent danger of being sent to Bahrain.

    As protests were staged outside Thai consulates in Melbourne, Sydney and London, the head of the immigration police announced Araibi had officially been arrested.

    The extradition to Bahrain had formally begun, but further hearings are expected to take place this week as Australia has requested he be returned to Melbourne.

    “We believe sending him back to Bahrain is an absolute violation of international laws and mores,” said Khamis, whose organisation, the Gulf Institute for Democracy and Human Rights, has been among the many groups to have spoken out.

    In detention, with his wife said to be nearby at all hours, Araibi has been able to transmit messages to the outside world. In the most recent, he told supporters he had started a hunger strike.

    “He’s feeling very petrified,” Hassan Abdal Nabi, a friend of four years staging a protest outside Melbourne’s Thai consulate, said through a translator. “He has just escaped and tried to start his life over.”

    The thought of being tortured, spending the rest of his 20s incarcerated and his playing career destroyed had left him despondent.

    He’s right to worry. Thailand has sent at least one wanted man back to Bahrain; he is now serving a life sentence, and his family claims he has been abused. That man, however, did not have refugee status or residency; Araibi has firmer legal ground and Australian-issued travel documents.

    He also has the Australian government’s support, and while Foreign Minister Marise Payne has been circumspect in her public comments and the post is between ambassadors, sources say the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade is working in diplomatic circles to apply pressure.

    “We are unaware of what the Australian government is doing because most of it is kept confidential, but we do urge all parties to apply pressure to Thailand,” Nabi said.

    Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy’s director of advocacy, Sayed Ahmed al-Wadaei, says conflicting statements from Thailand “simply don’t add up”.

    “After [Jamal] Khashoggi’s gruesome murder, the world should not underestimate how far the Gulf states will go to crush dissent and silence dissidents. The Thai government must know it’s crossing a red line if it deports Hakeem.”

    Human Rights Watch deputy Asia director Phil Robertson accused Thailand of engaging in a “cynical, rights abusing game” as Araibi faced a 10-year sentence and certain torture.

    “As a defender on the Bahrain national football team, Hakeem al-Araibi angered Sheikh Salman Bin Ibrahim Al-Khalifa, the current chair of the Asian Football Confederation, by revealing to the media the Sheikh’s role in human rights abuses around the Arab Spring, which fatally damaged his chance to be FIFA president.

    "So there is a revenge and retribution motive here, and it’s clear that Bahrain is pulling out all the stops to try and get him by hook or by crook,” Robertson said.

    “The Interpol Red Notice process fails to protect human rights when it allows rights abusing states like Bahrain to manufacture charges against their nationals who flee overseas and obtain refugee status. Even though Interpol ultimately lifted the notice against Hakeem al-Araibi, the damage was done with his detention just long enough for Bahrain to file extradition papers with Thailand. If al-Araibi is forced back to Bahrain, there will be blood on both Interpol and Thailand’s hands.”

    For Pascoe Vale FC president Lou Tona, all he wants is to have one of his top players run out on the pitch when the season starts. The alternative, he told FNR Football Nation Radio last week, doesn’t bear thinking about. “We pray to God that just doesn’t happen, not just Hakeem but I don’t think anyone deserves that.”

    Source:

    https://www.smh.com.au/world/asia/seeking-only-a-holiday-bahraini-steps-into-an-international-crisis-20181206-p50klh.html


  • The Guardian: Bahrain requested arrest of refugee 'before he arrived in Thailand
    December 06,2018

    Thai immigration authorities have claimed Bahrain requested the arrest of a dissident before he arrived in Bangkok for a holiday, raising concerns that the Australian resident was under surveillance.

    Hakeem Al-Araibi, 25, who fled Bahrain in 2014 and was granted asylum in Australia in 2017, has been held in Thailand for 10 days since he arrived in the country with his wife.

    After his arrest in Thailand, Al-Araibi, a professional footballer, was shown an Interpol “red notice” international arrest warrant against him, and told that was the reason he was being detained.

    Supporters and human rights groups have questioned why Interpol granted Bahrain a red notice against a refugee who fled the country.

    Earlier this week the red notice was lifted, but Al-Araibi remained in immigration detention under a Thai court order. Officials maintained they were working through next steps with both Australia and Bahrain.

    But in an interview with BBC Thai, the head of Thailand’s immigration bureau has suggested the arrests was not only on the basis of a red notice.

    “The Bahraini government knew that he [Hakeem Al-Araibi] would be arriving in Thailand [on 27 November], so they coordinated with Thailand’s permanent secretary of foreign affairs to detain him, pending documents sent from Bahrain,” Lt Gen Surachet Hakparn said on Thursday

    Yahya Alhadid, president of the Gulf Institute for Democracy and Human Rights (GIDHR), said the “contradicting” statements raised concerns about how Bahrain was aware of Al-Araibi’s planned trip.

    “Did Bahrain put him under surveillance or was it spying on him? In [either] case that brings up the question: is Bahrain spying on all its opponents outside the country?” said Alhadid.

    “If so, this indicates that the safety of all the Bahraini refugees at risk.”

    Alhadid said there was no legal basis for Al-Araibi’s continuing detention after the red notice was lifted.

    “We know that Thai authorities have a bad history sending back refugees to their home countries to face their grim fate, as they did with the Bahraini Ali Haroon’s in December 2014, and with the Turkish teacher Mohammet Sökmen in 2017.”

    Al-Araibi, who fled Bahrain after being targeted for alleged links to political protests, said he was “outraged” to learn the Gulf state regime may have had him under surveillance.

    “I’m just a football player, so busy with my life focusing on the sport, I have absolutely no political affiliations, I am not politically active,” he said.

    Sayed Ahmed Alwadaei, director of advocacy at the Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy, said the Australian government had to make it clear “publicly and privately” that the continuing detention of Al-Araibi was unacceptable, and to gain answers from Bahrain about alleged covert surveillance of an Australian resident.

    “After [Jamal] Khashoggi’s gruesome murder, the world should not underestimate how far the Gulf states will go to crush dissent and silenced dissidents. The Thai government must know it’s crossing a red line if it deports Hakeem.”

    Interpol has not answered specific queries on Al-Araibi’s case.

    Meanwhile, an extradition hearing in the Bangkok criminal court appears set to proceed.

    An Australian foreign affairs ministry spokeswoman said on Wednesday that it had received legal documents from Bahrain which needed to be forwarded to the immigration department before the case could begin.

    Human Rights Watch said a local lawyer had been hired to represent Al-Araibi, whose Melbourne football team, Pascoe Vale FC, has launched a fundraiser to help with legal costs.

    Source:

    https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/dec/06/bahrain-requested-arrest-of-refugee-before-he-arrived-in-thailand

  • Football Today: NPL refugee player faces extradition to Bahrain from Bangkok
    December 03,2018

    Former Bahrain national player, Hakeem Ali Mohamed Al-Araibi, who was granted refugee status in Australia in 2017, has been detained in Bangkok. AlAraibi now plays for Pascoe Vale FC in the NPL Victoria competition.

    On arrival at Bangkok Airport last week, Al-Araibi was detained under an Interpol 'Red Notice' issued at the request of the Bahrain Government. 

    However, the issuing of a Red Notice to a person who is a refugee or asylum-seeker is contary to Interpol policy. 

    In the past, Al-Araibi has been critical of the current president of the Asian Football Confederation, Sheikh Salman, particulary during his candidacy for the FIFA Presidency in 2016. 

    In January 2014, Al-Araibi was sentenced to 10 years in prison in absentia for allegedly vandalising a police station – a charge he denies, saying he was playing in a televised football match at the time of the alleged crime. Al-Araibi provided evidence that he was playing in a football match that was televised live when the alleged incident occurred. However, when his family reached out to the Bahrain football federation to confirm his alibi, which is ruled by Sheikh Salman, their requests went unanswered.

    Human rights activists are concerned that AlAraibi will face imprisonment and torture if the Thai authorities deport him to Bahrain. Human rights groups, including the Bahrian Institute for Rights and Democracy (BIRD) have called on the Australian Government to take action and press on the Thai authorities to release Hakeem and allow him to get back to Australia where he is protected.

    “Interpol has violated its obligations, as Hakeem holds refugee status and returning him to Bahrain puts him at significant risk of torture and imprisonment. His deportation would undoubtedly damage the reputation of Interpol’s newly-elected president early into his tenure,” said BIRD Director, Sayed Ahmed Alwadaei.

    Under international law, it is prohibited to return an individual to a state or territory when there is a reasonable fear that the individual will be subjected to torture. In May 2017, the United Nations Committee Against Torture addressed the issue of “widespread torture” in Bahrain and asserted that a “climate of impunity” exists in the country.

    Other activists say that Bahrain iss using Interpol for its own political ends. 

    “This case serves to highlight what has become habitual abuse of the Interpol system by Gulf countries; and, more broadly, it reveals severe systemic flaws in the way Interpol operates,” according to Rahda Stirling, founder of Detained in Dubai.

    UPDATE 4 December 2018

    The Gulf Institute for Democracy and Human Rights (GIDHR) has advised that the Interpol Red Notice has been lifted but Thai authorities continue to detail Al-Araibi as they decide whether to deport him to Bahrain or allow him to return freely to Australia, with a Thai court approving a temporary remand to detain Al-Araibi for 12 more days in Bangkok. He has been detained since 27 November.

    President of GIDHR, Yahya Alhadid, said there is no reason to continue to detain Al-Araibi. 

    “Thai authorities said he was arrested on the basis of Interpol’s red notice, and that notice was lifted. He should be allowed to board the first flight to Australia. We call on the Thai government to do the right thing to protect its reputation in front of the international community.”

    UPDATE 8 December 2018

    Al-Araibi told GIDHR that he has started a hunger strike. This step is a protest against the unfair court decision which was issued on Friday by the Bangkok Criminal Court which issued an arrest warrant against Al-Araibi.

    Al-Araibi said in a message sent last night that his future will be over if deported to Bahrain. He asked his supporters to continue the fight to save him.

    Source:

    https://footballtoday.news/features/npl-refugee-player-faces-extradition-to-bahrain-from-bangkok

  • GIDHR organized a solidarity stand with patients detained in Bahraini prisons
    August 08,2018
  • Yemen: #Children_under_Fire
    August 01,2018
    To read the report press here
  • GIDHR meets the Senator Lee Rhiannon
    July 30,2018
  • Participation in the Human Rights Council 35th Session
    June 06,2018

    Between the 6th and the 23th of June 2018, the Gulf Institute for Democracy and Human Rights (GIDHR) have partook in the 35th session of the United Nations Human Rights Council, held in Geneva. Mr. Ghassan Khamis; Chairman of the International Relations Committee has represented the GIDHR.

    Mr. Khamis has met representatives of several States’ permanent mission to highlight the human rights violations against activists and opponents in Bahrain. He has urged them to set effective recommendations to the Bahraini government in order to improve the human rights situation and pressure them to take serious measures in this regard.

    The representative of the GIDHR; Mr. Khamis, has also participated in various events and side events organised at the margin of the HRC sessions, which have all highlighted the deteriorating human rights situation in the region.

    Indeed, Mr. Khamis’s efforts have been welcomed by members of the permanent missions who have expressed willingness to cooperate with local and international human rights organisations to find effective means of pressure on the government of Bahrain to put an end to the abuses being committed in the country.


  • Meeting with the Australian Former Ambassador in Riyadh
    April 30,2018

    On Monday, 30 April 2018, a delegation from the Gulf Institute for Democracy and Human Rights (GIDHR) have visited the responsible for the Arab Gulf state’s affairs, in the Middle East Department of the Australian Foreign Ministry.

    The meeting has been attended by Yahiya al-Hadeed, Ghassan Khamis, and Fatimah Yazbek; in lieu of GIDHR. Mr. Tom Wilson has represented the Ministry of Foreign Affairs; the former Australian Ambassador in Riyadh along with two officials concerned on the Middle East and the Arab Gulf state’s affairs.

    The meeting has been initiated by presenting the GIDHR’s objectives, vision and work mechanisms. The delegation have expressed their gratitude and appreciation on Australia’s ongoing support for the people of Bahrain.

    Further, the head of GIDHR; Mr. Yahiya al-Hadeed has voiced the sharp escalation of human rights violation in Bahrain. Mr. al-Hadeed has condemned the increasing death penalty sentences and the unfair trial of Sheikh Ali Salman and Nabil Rajab.

    The meeting, in addition, has dissected the issue of the exiled Bahraini activists whose citizenships have been revoked, the commitment to highlight and urgently tackle their humanitarian case and the countries’ obligation to grant them the right to asylum.

    The delegation have requested the Australian Foreign Ministry to effectively cooperate with the GIDHR in order to issue joint international stance against the Government of Bahrain’s continuous human rights violations; especially in the coming Human Rights Council’s sessions.

    Moreover, the GIDHR’s delegation recommended the Australian Foreign Ministry to adopt an initiative that issue a joint statement to pressure the Government of Bahrain in order to approve off and facilitate the United Nations Special Rapporteurs’ unconditional visit to the prisons of Bahrain.

    For his part, Mr. Wilson has expressed his deep gratitude to the GIDHR, which provide the Australian Foreign Ministry with their periodic reports, information and recent updates on the human rights situation in Bahrain and in the Arab Gulf region, in general.

    Mr. Wilson has also appreciated the GIDHR’s efforts to highlight for the international community Bahrain’s human rights situation, from their headquarter in Australia. As well as he has welcomed cooperation with the GIDHR and requested to continually provide the Ministry with their recent reports and information.

    Finally, Mr. Wilson has dissected the Saudi Crown Princes Mohammed bin Salman recent reforms and its impact on the rights situation in Saudi Arabia.


  • On the Occasion of the February 14th Movement: No Religious Freedoms in Bahrain
    February 14,2018

    On 14 February, Ghassan Khamis; the Chairman of the International Relations Committee at the Gulf Institute for Democracy and Human Rights (GIDHR) have attended an activity on the onset of the peaceful protests anniversary, which demanded democracy in Bahrain, held in the Australian city of Sydney.

    The GIDHR have presented a brief report on the religious freedoms in Bahrain. The report highlights the human rights violations practiced by the Bahraini authorities to restrict religious freedoms and to prevent citizens from exercising their right to religious freedom.

    According to the brief report, presented by Mr. Khamis presented, the authorities prevent the Shiite citizens from their right to hold the Friday prayers in Bahrain’s central mosque in the Duraz village. The authorities in Bahrain has completely blockaded the village’s entries, and it prevent the clergyman who orchestrate the prayer and the congregation to access the mosque.

    The brief report also points to the targeting of the annual A’ashura religious rituals; held by the Shiite community, during the two months of the Islamic lunar calendar: Muharram and Safar. During this annual occasion, the authorities have arbitrarily removed many religious flags, posters and black banners, in various Bahraini cities and villages. By the same token, many food tents [Mutheef], which serve free food in A’ashura were removed.

    In addition, the brief report expounds the authorities’ excessive force and violent clampdown against A’ashura religious rituals and processions.

    Eventually, the GIDHR recommends the international community, the concerned human rights bodies and the United Nations Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion and peaceful assembly to immediately intervene and take serious measures to end the violations and allow the citizens in Bahrain to exercise their religious rites.


  • Participation in the Australian Foreign Ministry Annual Meeting with the Human Rights Organisations
    February 08,2018

    On Thursday, 8 February 2018, the Australian Foreign Ministry have held its 2018 Annual Meeting with the Human Rights and Civil Society Organisations, working in Australia, at the National Museum of Art and Porcelain, in Canberra capital city.

    Mr. Ghassan Khamis, Chairman of the International Relations Committee at the Gulf Institute for Democracy and Human Rights (GIDHR) has highlighted the GIDHR’s work, vision, and objectives.

    Khamis has stressed the GIDHR’s perseverance to promote the principles of democracy, respect for human rights and the publication of the human rights awareness among peoples.

    He has also expounded the ongoing intensifying human rights violations, in the Gulf region, especially in Bahrain; amid the absence of justice and impunity, to the Australian Foreign Ministry’s officials; who are concerned with the Middle East and Human Rights Region.

    The officials have shown their keenness to cooperate with the Gulf Institute for Democracy and Human Rights and their readiness to take advantage of the GIDHR’s periodic reports and bulletins to improve the rights situation in the region.


  • Visit to the Austrian Embassy in Australia
    January 23,2018

    On Tuesday, 23 January 2018, a delegation from the Gulf Institute for Democracy and Human Rights (GIDHR) have visited the Austrian Embassy in the Australian capital Canberra.

    The delegation, supervised by Yahiya al-Hadeed; the head of the GIDHR have met with the representative of the Austrian Ambassador. Al-Hadeed highlighted Bahrain’s prosecution of the detained opposition leader and the Secretary-General of the Islamic National Society (al-Wefaq); Sheikh Ali Salman, since 2014, and his new politically motivated charges.

    The GIDHR’s delegation have also dissected the Bahraini authorities’ Bahraini authorities’ of the Islamic National Society (al-Wefaq); its ongoing clampdown, in the country, on all sorts of political activism and restrictions on the right to freedom of expression, peaceful assembly, press and associations.

    Further, the GIDHR’s delegation have delivered a letter to the Ambassador of Austria in Australia, Mr. Bernard Zymurgy. The letter illustrates the intensification of the pace of repression and violations against peaceful protesters and opponents. It also explains the Bahrain’s judiciary escalating death penalty sentences; although the local and international human rights organisations have frequently risen doubts on these trials’ integrity; which do not match the minimum international standards of fair trial.

    In his letter, the GIDHR have addressed Mr. Bernard Zymurgy to call the Government of Austria to pressure Bahrain to end its blatant practices and violations against the Bahraini people and to abolish its death penalty verdicts.

    Officers in the Embassy of Austria have shown their readiness and keenness to cooperate with the GIDHR in his attempt to back the Bahraini citizens’ aspiration towards democracy, justice and maintain fundamental demands and human rights.

  • Visit to the New Zealand Embassy
    January 23,2018

    On Tuesday, 23 January 2018, a delegation from the Gulf Institute for Democracy and Human Rights (GIDHR) have visited New Zealand Embassy in the Australian capital Canberra.

    The delegation, supervised by Yahiya al-Hadeed; the head of the GIDHR have met with the Director of the New Zealand Ambassador; Mr. Chris Master.

    The GIDHR’s delegation have delivered a letter to Mr. Master; in which they highlight the intensifying death penalty sentences in Bahrain, regardless of the firm doubts expressed by local and international human rights organisations upon these trials that do not meet the minimum international standards of fair trial.

    The letter also has spotlight on the escalation of the pace of repression and human rights violations against the dissents.

    The GIDHR’s letter calls on Mr. Chris Master to demand from the New Zealand government to urge Bahrain to abolish these verdicts and to put an end to its blatant human rights violations.

    Besides, the GIDHR’s delegation have thoroughly focused on the unfair trial of the opposition leader and the Secretary-General of the Islamic National Society (al-Wefaq); Sheikh Ali Salman and his new politically motivated charges.

    The GIDHR’s delegation have, in addition, expressed their condemnation upon the Bahraini authorities’ closure of the Islamic National Society (al-Wefaq) and its arbitrary constraints over any political action or the right to exercise the freedom of expression and associations, in the country.

    At the end of the visit, the New Zealand embassy representatives have expressed their willingness to cooperation with the GIDHR, to deliver their letter to the officials and to back their attempts to promote democracy and social justice in Bahrain.


  • Visit to the Vice-Chairman of the Polish Ambassador
    January 23,2018
    On Tuesday, 23 December 2018, a delegation from the Gulf Institute for Democracy and Human Rights (GIDHR) have visited the Polish Embassy in the Australian capital Canberra and met the Vice-Police Ambassador in Australia.

    The visit has focused on the unfair prosecution against the opposition leader and the Secretary-General of the Islamic National Society (al-Wefaq); Sheikh Ali Salman and his new politically motivated charges. 

    The GIDHR’s delegation have also delivered a letter addressed to the Polish Ambassador. The letter has highlighted the escalating death penalty sentences, in Bahrain, despite the various suspicions that question this trials’ integrity; which do not match the minimum international standards of fair trial.

    The GIDHR’s letter has urged the Polish Ambassador to demand his government to exert effective efforts on Bahrain to abolish its arbitrary verdicts and to put an end to the constant human rights violations in the country.

    Further, the Polish embassy’s officials have expressed their willingness to cooperate with the GIDHR and to deliver the letter to the specialised officials.
  • Meeting the Green Party in Melbourne
    November 14,2017

    On Monday, 14 November 2017, a delegation from the Gulf Institute for Democracy and Human Rights (GIDHR) have met Mrs. Clear Ohranor; the political adviser to the Australian Senator and Mr. Richard de Natail; the head of the Green Party.

    The meeting has aimed at strengthening the GIDHR’s human rights relations and highlighting the deteriorating rights situation in the Bahrain.

    Yahiya al-Hadeed, Head of the Gulf Institute for Democracy and Human Rights has expressed his concerns over the possibility of fabricating new charges against the Secretary-General of the Islamic National Society (al-Wefaq); Sheikh Ali Salman to increase the term of his imprisonment and the need to move urgently to stop these practices.

    For her part, Mrs. Oharanor has shown her thorough readiness to cooperate with the GIDHR in order to find lobbying mechanisms on the Government of Bahrain to end the human rights violations, in the country.

    Besides, Ms. Oharanor has proposed the GIDHR to address and urge the Australian Foreign Ministry to take serious and urgent measures to end the human rights crisis in Bahrain.


  • Visit to Mrs. Lee Rubin; Member of the Federal Parliament
    September 20,2017

    On Wednesday, 20 September 2017, a delegation from the Gulf Institute for Democracy and Human Rights (GIDHR) have visited Australia’s federal parliamentarian for the Green Party, Mrs. Lee Rubin, at her office in Sydney. The visit has focused on the human rights situation in Bahrain, where the delegation have briefed some of the human rights violations’ reports

    The visit has been initiated by expounding to Mrs. Rubin the GIDHR’s objectives, vision and work mechanisms. Next, the GIDHR’s delegation have shed light on the deteriorating human rights situation in Bahrain. They have also focused on the authorities’ systematic crackdown on any activity that reveals the ongoing committed violations.

    Besides, the visit has highlighted the Bahraini government’s clampdown over the freedom of political action, the closure of the Islamic National Society (al-Wefaq) and the opposition leader Sheikh Ali Salman’s imprisonment; based on politically fabricated charges.

    The GIDHR have also emphasised the restriction on the freedom of expression, the closure of Al Wasat newspaper, the trial of the social media activists. Further, they have highlighted the severe verdicts against the prisoners of conscience, the escalating ratio of death sentences and prosecuting civilians before military courts.

    For her part, Mrs. Rubin has expressed her dismay at the situation in the country, described the situation as “outrageous,” and promised to highlight these violations in the Australian Federal Parliament.

    The delegation have also discussed the deteriorating humanitarian situation in Yemen, and the momentous violations caused by the military operations and the direct targeting of civilians and facilities.


  • Visit to the Ambassador of Belgium in Australia
    April 28,2017

    On Friday, April 28 2017, a delegation from the Gulf Institute for Democracy and Human Rights (GIDHR) have visited the Embassy of the Belgian Kingdom in the Australian capital Canberra.

    The delegation met the Belgian ambassador Mr. Gin Los Podson, within the GIDHR’s agenda of strengthening cooperation frameworks with the diplomatic institutions in order to improve the rights situation in the region.

    Initially, the delegation have reflected the GIDHR’s objectives, its vision and concerns to promote rights awareness and the principles of democracy.

    Then, they have highlighted the deterioration of the human rights conditions in Bahrain and the government’s response to the recommendations released by the Human Rights Council and the Universal Periodic Review, which worsen the situation in the country.

    Moreover, the delegation have shed light on some examples of the ongoing blatant human rights violations practiced against opponents; including: Nationality revocation, death penalty based on trials that do not meet the minimum international standards of fair trial, travel bans on the activists, torture against prisoners of conscience and depriving them from their fundamental rights.

    At the end of the visit, Mr. Podson has expressed his readiness to cooperate with the Gulf Institute for Democracy and Human Rights and to forward its monthly and periodic reports to the relevant authorities.


  • GIDHR Organized Seminar on "Human Rights Abuses in the Gulf States"
    March 31,2017
  • Participation in the Human Rights Council Sessions
    March 24,2017

    Between the 27th of February and the 24th of March 2017, the Gulf Institute for Democracy and Human Rights (GIDHR) have partook in the 34th session of the United Nations Human Rights Council, held in Geneva. Mr. Ghassan Khamis; Chairman of the International Relations Committee has represented the GIDHR.

    Mr. Khamis has attended several events and side sessions on the sidelines of the session; orchestrated by various international and Bahraini human rights organisations, and which dealt with the human rights situation in several countries.

    On more than one occasion, Mr. Khamis has highlighted the increasing cases of death penalty sentences and the nationality revocation; against dissidents on political grounds.

    Further. Mr. Khamis has met the High Commissioner’s Assistant Mohamed Nahnuh and discussed the deteriorating human rights situation in Bahrain.

    Mr. Khamis and other Bahraini activists have also met the UN Special Rapporteurs on enforced disappearances, peaceful assembly, freedom of expression, torture and the protection of human rights activists.

    The meetings dealt with the human rights violations and abuses committed against dissents, rights activists and opponents in the country, in addition to the restrictions imposed on civil and political rights and freedoms; particularly the closure of al-Wasat newspaper, the travel bans on dissidents and other practices.


  • Seminar on "Human Rights Abuses in the Gulf States"
    March 23,2017

    Gulf Institute for Democracy and Human Rights in cooperation with The University of Melbourne Asia Institute are delighted to invite you to a seminar on "Human Rights Abuses in the Gulf States"

    Friday, 31st March, 2017 - 12:30 p.m.

    Room 321, Level 3, Sidney Myer Asia Centre, Swanston St, University of Melbourne

    Participants will discuss the human rights abuses in the Gulf States, particularly the recent executions and the rising religious discrimination in Bahrain against the indigenous Bahrainis. Panelists will also shed the light on the human rights crisis caused by the war in Yemen.

    GIDHR will launch a report on the recent executions in Bahrain.

    The seminar will bring together members of:

    - GIDHR

    - Reprieve

    - Amnesty International

    - Socialist Alliance

    - Welcome to Australia

    - SALAM for Democracy and Human Rights.

  • GIDHR Visited Embassy of Switzerland in Australia
    February 23,2017
    A delegation from Gulf Institute for Democracy and Human Rights (GIDHR) visited, yesterday(Wednesday, February 22, 2017), the Embassy of Switzerland in the Australian Capital Canberra.

    The delegation, including Yahya Alhadid, GIDHR President; Fatima Yazbek, Head of the Committee on Reports and Studies; and Ali Alawi, Head of Monitoring Committee, met Mr Daniel Haener, Deputy Head of Mission, and discussed the human rights situation in Bahrain in the context of strengthening the ties with the international community.

    They, also, discussed the extrajudicial killing cases in Bahrain, restrictions imposed on religious freedom and peaceful assembly, in addition to the human rights and political activism.

    Furthermore, the issue of the coning UPR of Bahrain was raised and recommendations on religious freedom, and human rights activism were discussed.

    Mr Haener welcomed cooperating with GIDHR trying to enhance the human rights situation in Bahrain. He, also, insisted on the importance of respecting human rights and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. 
  • GIDHR Visited EU Office in Australia & Discussed the Human Rights Situation in Bahrain
    February 16,2017

    GIDHR delegation met on Wednesday (February 15, 2017) Dr Bruno Scholl, the Head of Political, Press, and Information Section in the Delegation of the European Union to Australia and New Zealand. The visit aims to consolidate GIDHR international relations and to present the human rights situation in Bahrain. GIDHR delegation included Yahya Alhadid, GIDHR President, and Ghassan Khamis, the Head of International Relations Committee.

    The discussion shed the light on the human rights issues in Bahrain, as GIDHR delegation emphasised on the seriousness of the escalating steps of the Bahraini regime, particularly the issues of executions, arbitrary arrests, targeting human rights and political activists, and confiscation of freedom of political activism.

    Dr Scholl welcomed cooperating with Gulf Institute for Democracy and Human Rights (GIDHR) and seeking to put an end to the human rights violations in Bahrain.

  • DFAT-NGO Forum 2017
    February 10,2017
  • UN: Executions Worsen the Human Rights Situation in Bahrain
    January 27,2017
  • Visit to the Australian Foreign Office
    January 25,2017
    On Thursday, 25 January 2017, a delegation from the Gulf Institute for Democracy and Human Rights (GIDHR) have visited the Australian Foreign Ministry. The meeting has been attended by Yahiya al-Hadeed, Ghassan Khamis, and Fatimah Yazbek; in lieu of GIDHR.
    For his part, the Australian Foreign Office has been represented by Greg Ralf; Assistant Secretary of State for the Middle East, Kevin Blaiford; Director of Human Rights and Indigenous Affairs Department, Harold Owen; Assistant Director of Gulf Countries - Middle East Division.
    The GIDHR have delivered the Australian Foreign Ministry a letter on the recent Universal Periodic Review (UPR) on Bahrain.
    Moreover, the GIDHR’s delegation expounded the organisation’s objectives, vision, work mechanisms and publications.
    The situation in Bahrain has been comprehensively briefed; since 2011 to date. The review has focused on the wide range of systematic sectarian persecution against the Shiite community and the regime’s ongoing clampdown; particularly the arrest of the prominent political leader Sheikh Ali Salman, the closure of Al-Wefaq political bloc and the nationality revocation of Bahrain’s spiritual leader Ayatollah Sheikh Isa Qassim’s.
    Then the GIDHR have highlighted the continuing crackdown, prosecution and persecution against Bahraini lawyers, activists and dissents. It also criticised the Australian Special Envoy for Human Rights Philip Ruddock visit to Bahrain, at the end of September 2016.
    Further, the GIDHR have addressed the execution of three Bahraini citizens by the authorities in January 2017. They have expressed alarm that Bahrain would execute more prisoners of conscience amid the silence of the international community. The GIDHR have hoped that Australia would condemn this blatant violation politically motivated and unfair trials.
    For its part, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs have showed remarkable cooperation. They have also expressed readiness to receive any suggestions on the Universal Periodic Review’s (UPR) recommendations since they have not formulated their own recommendations yet.
    The Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ officials have additionally expressed their readiness to cooperate with the GIDHR to put an end to the human rights violations taking place in Bahrain. They requested the delegation to continuously provide them with the GIDHR’s electronic reports, statements and bulletins on the human rights to forward it to the Australian Embassy in Riyadh.
  • GIDHR from the University of Sydney: “Revoking Citizenship in Bahrain: the Silent Execution”
    November 11,2016

    Gulf Institute for Democracy and Human Rights (GIDHR) in coordination with Amnesty International and University of Sydney, organised, on November 11, 2016, a seminar “Revoking Citizenship in Bahrain: the Silent Execution”.

    The seminar began with a video from SBS TV archive addressing revoking the citizenship of Sayed Alawi Al-Biladi because of demanding political reform through social media outlets.

    Fiona Bachman, the committee board member at Amnesty International – Sydney, discussed Amnesty International’s annual reports of the current and the previous year to compare the increase in the human rights violations in Bahrain.

    Ghassan Khamis, the head of the international relations committee in GIDHR, reviewed GIDHR report issued earlier this year about revoking citizenship in Bahrain.

    Yahya Alhadid, the president of GIDHR, reported the Bahraini authorities’ usage of revoking citizenship as a weapon to punish the political and human rights activists and their families, what obliged many of them to leave the country.

    Dr Mohammed Wahbi, the specialist in Arabic political affairs in University of Sydney, concluded the seminar considering that the policy of importing change doesn’t really make change, because the people and the society are the major motive of change. “The society is affected by the economic and social pressures, the revolution in Bahrain was affected by the Arabic Spring revolutions. It has lightly affected Saudi Arabia, and there are some opponents in the Gulf had emerged after the evolution in Bahrain,” he said.

  • GIDHR Participation in HRC 33rd Session
    September 26,2016

    Gulf Institute for Democracy and Human Rights (GIDHR) in Australia had participated in the 33rd session of the Human Rights Council (HRC) in Geneva. Mr Ghassan Khamis, the head of the International Relations Committee, attended the Council on behalf of GIDHR from September 19, 2016 until September 26, 2016.

    On Monday, September 19, Mr Khamis met with Mr Alexander Chapman, the Second Secretary at the Australian Permanent Mission to United Nation, and introduced GIDHR and its strategy in focusing on the Gulf region.

    On Tuesday, September 20, Mr Ghassan Khamis met with Mrs Hannah McGlade, a professor in University of Curtin in Perth and UN Senior Indigenous Fellow. Mr Khamis explained the need to classify the Bahraini Shiites as indigenous people and the government policy of sectarian persecution.

    On Wednesday, September 21, Mr Ghassan Khamis met with Mr Keith M. Harper, the US Ambassador Representative to Human Rights Council in Geneva and introduced GIDHR and its strategy in focusing on the Gulf region. He explained targeting the human rights defenders and the opponents. Mr Khamis also met with Mr Julian Braithwaite, the ambassador and permanent representative at the United Kingdom Mission. They discussed the sectarian discrimination against the Bahraini Shiites.

    On Thursday, September 22, Mr Khamis met with Mr Leigh McCumber, the Canadian Mission in Geneva. They discussed the sectarian discrimination against the Bahraini Shiites.

    On Friday, September 23, Mr Khamis with five Bahraini human rights organizations attended a meeting with Ms Renee Arian, the Human Rights Adviser for Middle East at the Australian Permanent Mission to Untied Nation. They discussed various topics regarding the repression in Bahrain. Mr Khamis, also, met with Mrs Agathe Artus, a member in Swiss Journalism Union. They discussed the situation and targeting the press and social media in Bahrain and the Gulf.

    Mr Ghassan Khamis attended several sessions, meetings, protests and press conference during his visit to the Human Rights Council in Geneva.

  • Meeting with a New South Wales’s State Attorney
    September 07,2016

    On Wednesday, 7 September 2016, a delegation from the Gulf Institute for Democracy and Human Rights (GIDHR) have met Mr. David Cherbourg; the Australian Green Party’s representative in the New South Wales Parliament.

    Mr. Cherbourg has shown his interest in the revocation of some Bahraini citizen’s nationality; particularly the human rights and political activists. He has also emphasised that he will reveal this issue in media.

    Further, Mr. Cherbourg has promised to be a mediator between the GIDHR and the Australian Representative in the Human Rights Council in Geneva to advocate the Bahraini cause.

    On the issue of the “I Omniscient” ; the Australian company that has signed a partnership contract with the American company BELCO and the Bahraini company LSS; to provide the Bahrain Interior Ministry advance surveillance technology to suppress peaceful protests demanding democracy. Mr. Cherbourg has vowed to diplomatically intervene in order to halt the exportation of this equipment, to Bahrain. He has also requested GIDHR to conduct a comprehensive file on this matter, to be referred to, if necessary.

    For their part, the GIDHR’s delegation promised Mr. David Chouburg to prepare all the requested files and the information, as well as the GIDHR periodic reports issued on the Bahraini human rights situation.