Hakeem Al-Araibi, Barefoot Footballer who Reminded the World of Bahrain’s Notorious Prison
2019-02-13 - 10:07 p
Bahrain Mirror (Exclusive): The case of the Bahraini refugee football player who resides in Australia, Hakeem Al-Araibi, has inflicted an overwhelming diplomatic, political and human rights defeat on the Bahraini regime; a defeat clearly witnessed by the local and international public opinion. The regime has not been exposed to such an obvious defeat for a quite some time.
Only one photo of the barefoot footballer, published by Reuters, foot-shackled by Thai authorities, was sufficient to summarize the suffering of the people of Bahrain since 1783, with the ruling family, who has refused generation after generation to recognize Bahrainis as human beings, and all those like Hakeem Al-Araibi.
There is no doubt that it is a painful defeat for the ‘diplomacy' that the King of Bahrain recently praised.
No one in this world believed Manama's claims that Hakeem Al-Araibi would have received humane treatment if extradited. No one believed that the Bahraini judiciary would have been just with him if returned. No one guaranteed Al-Araibi's safety from the crime of torture, whose terrifying accounts have been acknowledged by countries of the free world. No one believed that Al-Araibi could come out alive from a ten-year jail term waiting for him in Jaw Central Prison.
At the time of his arrest, the Thai authorities thought that they would provide a service that would satisfy their ally, the Bahraini prime minister, as it had done before when it extradited a young man, Ali Haroun, to Bahrain. When a number of Bahraini refugee human rights defenders in Australia as well as some Australian journalists demanded his release, many believed that Al-Araibi's case would only take a few days before his horrific torture would be reported from inside the national security service's prison cells.
However, the efforts of many human rights activists and media people from the Australian community and elsewhere formed a successful alliance that led to a widespread media campaign shedding light on the issue. His case spread like a fireball. This contributed to the Australian government's full-on involvement. Thailand was at this point involved with a country it never wanted to anger, a country like Australia, with enjoys a heavy weight in that part of the globe politically and economically.
However, as usual, the ruling family in Bahrain only resorted to its revenge mentality. It didn't read the case clearly. The Minister of Interior Affairs, went out to the media, as usual, to reiterate his refusal, which no one in the world cares for, stressing that he doesn't accept any talk about the Bahraini judiciary.
The government insisted on taking back Al-Araibi to torture him, and throw him in Nasser bin Hamad's grip, who threatened athletes who supported popular demands in 2011.
Thailand was hit by massive waves on the political, media and human rights levels, after the Australian and international media and the Australian government came chiming in. Soon after, these waves struck Bahrain, voices questioning the reality of a country that Hakeem Al-Araibi pleaded in front of the cameras not to be returned to.
There were many questions asked: What's going on in this country? What kind of political crisis is there? How are people who oppose the government treated there? So the snowball grew until it became an avalanche like the Khashoggi case.
The stubbornness of the Government of Bahrain did not benefit it, but rather put it under the media spotlight along with its ally Thailand. Its Shaikhs didn't even realize the hole they dug themselves in until Thailand's surrender, under pressure, became a matter of time only.
The Bahraini Ministry of Foreign Affairs seemed to be the most expressive of the regime's sore loss on the last day. Despite the Thai authorities' attempt to show the Bahraini government in a merciful light, by declaring that Bahrain agreed to withdraw its extradition request, Bahrain responded by saying that it had the right to follow the procedures for Al-Araibi's extradition, and that it handed the Australian ambassador residing in Riyadh, who came to Manama, a request for that. Indeed, it is a mockery. Australia, which pressured Thailand, was certainly not going to hand him over, but the Bahraini government insisted on proving its crippling stubbornness.
The world has remembered again the human rights tragedy in our country, but the regime has lost an opportunity to play the role of the prudent and wise political leadership, revealing its true backwards and merciless nature void of any emotions but revenge- the reality of the tribe that strives to retaliate against those who have contributed to the loss and failure of one of its sons to reach the FIFA presidency chair years ago. Now the loss is doubled, all with one kick from Hakeem Al-Araibi.
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