4 January 2019 – Gulf Institute for Democracy and Human Rights (GIDHR) said that Thai authorities are preventing the footballer refugee Hakeem Al-Araibi from calling his wife or other family members. GIDHR are putting question marks over this step of covering up the security and judicial procedures, saying that this step raises the concerns around Thai intentions of Al-Araibi’s arbitrary arrest.
GIDHR revealed that around 19k people from different countries signed the petition, which they started earlier previous month. The petition’s statistics are linked to the Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne, and she is receiving regular updates.
Commenting, Yahya Alhadid the President of GIDHR, said “we appreciate the Foreign Minister’s visit to Thailand soon, and 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.”
“During 39 days of Al-Araibi’s arrest, the Australian and international media outlets, including TV channels, newspapers, and websites, published more than 520 stories regarding Hakeem’s case. Despite the media pressure, we have not seen serious steps from the Australian authorities to grant Hakeem Australian citizenship. Moreover, we are yet to receive any explanation of the fault which resulted in Al-Araibi’s arrest in Thailand, or the reason behind not notifying him prior to his flight. Hakeem called the Australian Immigration before applying for Thai visa (on 4 November 2018) and enquired if he will be protected overseas. The Immigration officers assured he will be protected anywhere except in his home country Bahrain,” Alhadid continued.
“The Asian Cup, which is taking place in the United Arabic Emirates, is starting soon, we call on the Australian Football Federation to put maximum pressure on both the FIFA and the Asian Football Confederation, and urge them to take serious and immediate actions to save Hakeem and return him back home safely,” he added.
“The study we conducted on #SaveHakeem campaign, between 14 and 27 December, revealed huge engagement from people around the globe. 10,500 tweets; 9,100 retweets; and 230 comments were posted; 88% of the tweets are in English, 11% are in Arabic, and 1% are in different languages; 75% of the tweets were posted from Australia (45% from Melbourne, and 12% from Sydney). The campaign peak was on 22nd December with 2100 tweets were posted,” Alhadid concluded.