Australian Football Player Craig Foster Calls to Support Hakeem Al-Araibi, Hold Account AFC in case Al-Araibi is Extradited to Bahrain
2019-01-03 - 10:59 م
Bahrain Mirror (Exclusive): Australian football player Craig Foster said in a tweet that "Day [yesterday] 38 of detention for Hakeem Al-Araibi," urging to write to president of FIFA Gianni Infantino, president of Asian Football Confederation Sheikh Salman bin Ibrahim Al-Khalifa, Prime Minister of Thailand Prayut Chan-o-cha, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Thailand Don Pramudwinai, Prime Minister of Australia Scott Morrison and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Australia Marise Payne to support Al-Araibi's case.
Foster published the letter he used to urge the government of Thailand and Australia as well as football community to support Al-Araibi. The letter read:
"To all listed above,
I write to add my voice to the campaign in support of Mr Hakeem al-Araibi, footballer of Pascoe Vale FC in Victoria, Australia, granted asylum by the Australian Government and currently detained in Thailand pending possible extradition to Bahrain.
I am aware that this action by the Bahrain and Thai Governments contravenes international human rights law, that Hakeem has been in detention for in excess of a month and call on you to assist in securing his immediate release to his family and football community in Australia.
Hakeem's wife, friends, teammates, football community and broader Australian support network except to see Hakeem's human rights respected and for the most robust advocacy from football institutions, both FIFA and the AFC to the Bahrain and Thai Governments, using all of the immense leverage that football possesses, and from the Australian Government to this end.
And to Mr. Prayut Chan-Ocha, I urge you to respect the longstanding friendship between Thailand and Australia and to release Hakeem to enjoy the new life he has been granted in Australia."
Foster had said in a statement that Asia's governing body would be held to account if Hakeem Al-Araibi was extradited from Thailand to his home country, where he fears persecution and torture.
AFC issued a statement which South China Morning Post newspaper described it as a statement that raised more questions than it answered. AFC said: "We are working with Fifa and FAT [Football Association of Thailand] on this issue."
Foster commented: "The response was brief and I think leaves the football community with some great concern and a vast number of questions about what is, and what is not, being done."
"So, the obligation on AFC is to not only work with the football community but also to strive to promote Hakeem's rights more broadly. And what is becoming a more deeper concern is the role of the AFC president [Sheikh Salman bin Ebrahim al-Khalifa]," he added.
Foster stressed in his reply on the statement that "Even Fifa has made a statement [calling for Al-Araibi's release], albeit constrained, but it is simply extraordinary that the AFC have not been more vocal given that it concerns one of their registered players."
He indicated that "Should Hakeem be ultimately extradited, football needs to know precisely what AFC have done and the precise steps they have taken to ensure his human rights have been upheld."
Foster said FIFA had an independent human rights advisory board, set up in 2017, that was able to advocate for rights of its stakeholders. He is hoping the FIFA unit will hold AFC to account should the Asian body fail in its obligations towards Al-Araibi.
Meanwhile, Yahya Alhadid, an activist with the Gulf Institute for Democracy and Human Rights, slammed Sheikh Salman's announcement that he intended to run for another term as AFC president while Al-Araibi languishes in a Thai jail.