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.
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.”
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:
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.
Activists campaigning for the release of the Bahraini refugee footballer, 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 thathas 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. 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.
“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,.”
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.”
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.
Fatima Yazbek, a Director from the Gulf Institute for Democracy and Human Rights
Craig Foster, former Socceroos captain and SBS TV host
Hakeem al-Araibi’s life is not under threat and he could appeal his conviction if he returned to, 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 beenwhile 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 , 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, 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, 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 repeatedlyrepressive 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 defenderhas 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, particularlyback 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, whichbecause of the red notice against him.
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.
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.
, 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,” she said.
“I have reiterated those concerns to both ministers.”
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.
Elaine Pearson, the Australian director of Human Rights Watch, said there were key questions for the Thai government and.
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,, 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 followedthat 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
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.”
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
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– 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.
Bahraini national, now Australian resident, Hakeem al-Araibi, was a member of thenational 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.
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?
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, and even now direct their messages at governments instead of the influential Bahrainis among their own executives.
There is perhaps a greater awareness of the horrendous danger to people – particularly women – inthan 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. 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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, 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, 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 onwhich 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, 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
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-Araibifor 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.
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.
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.”
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.
Lawyers for Al-Araibi, supported by the Gulf Institute for Democracy and Human Rights (GIDHR), lodged an appeal withthis week, seeking his intervention on Al-Araibi’s case.
They argued giving Al-Araibi citizenship would bolster his chances ofbeing 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
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 urgingdirectly 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 bya 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.
Thai immigration authorities have claimedrequested 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 infor 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, 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, whosefootball team, Pascoe Vale FC, has launched a fundraiser to help with legal costs.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
- Amnesty International
- Socialist Alliance
- Welcome to Australia
- SALAM for Democracy and Human Rights.
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.
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.
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.
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.