The Advertiser: Aussie refugee soccer star Hakeem al-Araibi remains detained in Thailand

Thai immigration authorities are continuing to hold a former Bahraini national soccer player who is an Australian permanent resident despite the lifting of an Interpol red notice.

Hakeem al-Araibi was detained on November 27, after arriving at Suvarnabhumi Airport from Australia, as a result of the red notice issued at Bahrain’s request.

His arrest has prompted fears he will be deported to the Gulf country where his safety would be at risk.

The 25-year-old, who was granted asylum status in 2014, has had permanent residency in Australia since 2017 and was entering Thailand on holiday with his wife.

Araibi’s detention was extended by 12 days in a Bangkok court on Monday.

He remains in Suan Plu Immigration Detention Centre and attempts to reach him were unsuccessful.

Thailand’s Immigration Bureau chief Surachate Hakparn on Tuesday confirmed the lifting of the red notice and the 12 further days of detention.

“When the period runs out and an arrest warrant from Bahrain [hasn’t shown up, we will send him back to Australia,” Mr Surachate said.

However, he added that if an arrest warrant is issued by Bahrain during the 12 days, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs would “oversee the process” and Araibi would probably be sent back to Bahrain.

Yahya Alhadid, the president of the Gulf Institute for Democracy and Human Rights, said there was “no explanation for continuing to detain” Araibi.

“Thai authorities said he was arrested on the basis of Interpol’s red notice and that notice was lifted,” he said in a statement on Tuesday.

Araibi has been publicly outspoken against the torture he suffered in Bahraini detention during the Arab Spring uprising in 2012.

In 2014, he was sentenced in absentia to 10 years in prison for vandalising a police station. He says he was overseas playing a televised match when the alleged offence occurred.

Melbourne’s Pascoe Vale FC soccer player is also openly critical of the Bahraini government and its Asian Football Confederation president sheik Salman al- Khalifa.

Thailand is not a signatory to the 1951 Refugee Convention and has faced criticism for sending refugees and asylum seekers back to countries where they face persecution and harm, which is against international law. Protesters gathered outside the Thai embassy in Melbourne on Tuesday calling for Araibi’s release to Australia, pictures circulated on social media showed.

The Asia Pacific Refugee Rights Network, a group of 350 civil society organisations and individuals from 28 countries, said on Tuesday in an open letter to Thailand’s Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha that it was “deeply concerned” about Araibi being prevented from returning to Melbourne.

“Instead, he has been held in detention while the Thai government considers Bahrain’s farcical request for his return,” it said.

Source: The Advertiser