Bahrain Football Player Hakeem Al-Araibi: Please Stop Them! If I'm Deported to Bahrain, Don’t Believe the Confessions You’ll Hear

2018-12-14 - 6:17 p

Bahrain Mirror (Exclusive): The Thai and Bahraini governments are working together to extradite me so that I'd be tortured in Bahrain, despite having the right to political asylum in Australia...

Stop them please.

I didn't do anything in Bahrain.

I don't want to go back to Bahrain, I want to go to Australia.

These were the comments made by the former Bahrain international footballer Hakeem Al-Araibi to media outlets and activists who were assembling in front of the court's entrance in Thailand on Tuesday (December 11), before the judiciary decided to arrest him for an additional 60 days.

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Al-Araibi knows well what is awaiting him in Bahrain if he is handed over to the Bahraini authorities. The whole world knows and ignores the fact that Bahrain is a country of torture and violations of freedoms and human rights.

"If I am deported to Bahrain, do not forget me, if I arrive there, and you hear me saying something, don't believe me," Al-Araibi wrote on his Facebook page last week. "I know what will happen to me, and I know that I will be tortured until I confess to doing things I never committed," he added.

The 25-year old player, who plays for a semi-professional team in Melbourne, demanded FIFA to interfere to protect him. He stressed that "Bahrain is a state that has no human rights. My life is in danger. FIFA should protect me and all players."  FIFA demanded on Thursday (December 6) the release of Al-Araibi, calling on the Thai authorities to return him back to Australia as soon as possible. Pascoe Vale club in Melbourne sent an open letter to the Thai PM demanding the protection of their player, given the fact that he's a recognized refugee in Australia. The club added that he shouldn't be sent back to Bahrain, the country he fled from due to persecution, and which he fears returning to.

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Al-Araibi was arrested in Bahrain in 2012 over the uprising witnessed in the country that erupted in 2011. He was beaten and tortured. He was accused of taking part in attacking a police station. The paradox is that Al-Araibi was playing a soccer match at the time of the alleged attack. The official state television has recordings that prove this, however, the politicized judiciary convicted him and issued on January 2018 a 10-year prison term against him in absentia.

Al-Araibi fled to Australia in 2014 after his life was put in danger. He managed to obtain political asylum in 2017, and is currently playing for the Pascoe Vale club in Melbourne. However, he was arrested by the Thai Immigration department on November 2, 2018 after arriving in Bangkok from Australia, accompanied with his wife for a vacation.

There is no doubt that Al-Araibi's acquired political asylum is what made him feel safe to travel to other countries, but he wasn't aware that Bangkok has strong investment relations with Bahrain, which makes the Bahraini authorities have an influence there, which was confirmed by the head of Thai immigration Surachate Hakpal who told reporters "we have friendly and good relations with Bahrain". He added that the authorities are trying to speed up the case due to the 12-day period of pretrial detention that began on December 3.

FIFA and human rights groups are pressuring for the return of Al-Araibi to Australia, where he resides as a political refugee, but Bahrain's investments in Thailand and Bahrain's influence, especially in Bangkok, put Al-Araibi's life at risk. It is the conflict between law and human rights and the influence of Bahraini investments, activists say.

The Thai court is considering now the request for extraditing Al-Araibi said the immigration department on Friday (December 7, 2018). Al-Araibi told France Press that he is still unaware of the legal measures against him. He added "I feel very nervous now. You can see the news about Bahrain -- there are no human rights there."

A lawyer acting for Al-Araibi called for his release. "He didn't do anything wrong in Thailand... so there is no grounds [for detention]," Nadthasiri Bergman told France Press, slamming it as a "political case".

Al-Araibi's crime is that he was critical of the Bahraini authorities. Human Rights Watch says he is targeted because his mother is a political activist. Meanwhile, Australia says it is holding talks at a high diplomatic level with Thailand, seeking the player's safe return. Foreign Minister Marise Payne said her country is "concerned about the arrest of Hakim Al-Araibi and demands his immediate return to Australia." FIFA and the Australian federation also demanded his release.

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Human rights groups indicate that the present case is governed by international rules that prevent Bangkok from extraditing anyone if he is to be subjected to torture. Human Rights Watch says that the memorandum of request for the deportation of Al-Araibi in the current case "does not apply to a person granted political asylum, such as Al-Araibi". For its part, the London based- Bahrain Institute of Human Rights and democracy warned that Thailand would violate the rules of international law if it returned the player to Bahrain. According to Amnesty International, Thailand in 2014 extradited a 21-year old man to Bahrain in response to an Interpol warrant. It said there "are credible reports that he was tortured when he returned to Bahrain".

After all of this, would Thailand extradite Hakeem Al-Araibi to Bahraini authorities despite all these warnings and risks against his life as well as human rights violations?

Arabic Version


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