m3n4.net April 20, 2019

Football player refuses voluntary extradition to Bahrain

06 February 2019, 08:25 | Tara Lloyd

A-League players campaigns for Hakeem

A-League players campaigns for Hakeem

Al-Araibi, a critic of the Bahraini government, is due to appear in court again on April 22.

Jailed Bahraini footballer Hakeem Al Araibi arrives at Thailand's Criminal Court to submit his evidence to fight his extradition, after a local prosecutor submitted Bahrain's extradition request for him, in Bangkok, Thailand February 4, 2019.

While support continues to grow, the situation of Al-Araibi, who has been detained in Thailand for two months and faces deportation back to Bahrain, continues to cause concern.

'Australia is with you, buddy, ' Mr Foster reportedly shouted as Al-Araibi walked by. Such notices are not supposed to be given to refugees.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison appealed to his Thai counterpart to release al-Araibi back to Australia, and football's governing body FIFA also wrote, urging the Junta leader to step in.

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Bahrain seeks his extradition over vandalism charges dating back to 2012.

"If a country can't guarantee the safety of players transiting in and through Thailand in order to play football matches, whether that's Hakeem Al-Araibi or anyone else, then clearly the ability to host matches inside Thailand is compromised", he said.

"Stay strong. All of Australia is with you".

His case has also been raised by Labour MP Dr. Rosena Allin-Khan, who confirmed via a tweet that she had asked Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt to act in aiding the footballer "escape torture". "Don't be pushed around by Bahrain and just let him go home", Foster said.

The player was given refugee status by Australia in 2014, the same year he was sentenced in absentia by Bahrain to 10 years in prison for vandalising a police station.

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Al-Araibi was taken into custody on November 27 by Thai Immigration officers acting on an Interpol Red Notice requested by Bahrain, even though it is against the agency's policy of non-refoulement of refugees.

Foster said he has called on Federation Internationale de Football Association to discuss the possibility of issuing sporting sanctions against Thailand that could bar worldwide matches from taking place within the country. The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention has castigated Manama for the reprisal detention of relatives of London-based Bahraini human rights activist Sayed Ahmed al-Wadaei, and called for their release.

Since the arrest of al-Araibi hit global headlines, Australia has been at the forefront of the demand for his immediate release, arguing that he was a refugee with Australian residency and therefore should not be arrested and face an extradition trial.

Campaigners from the Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy (BIRD) say he is at grave risk of torture if he is deported. Bahrain has dubiously convicted thousands in response to the 2011 Arab Spring uprising, and given al-Araibi's credible alibi, his conviction seems no different.

Federico Addiechi, a representative of Federation Internationale de Football Association, soccer's world governing body, also attended Monday's hearing and said the organization will continue to support al-Araibi. "The case that is going to prove whether sport and human rights is substantive, and that the political and huge economic implications coming out of the Middle East region cannot play any role in what is a very basic case of a refugee law".

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