Hakeem Al-Araibi: I Try to Be Brave, But Inside I’m Broken

2019-02-11 - 12:57 ص

Bahrain Mirror (Exclusive): Hakeem Al-Araibi, a former Bahraini national team player who is being held in Thailand, is no longer safe. Al-Araibi who has been residing in Australia for over five years says he no longer feels the respect for his humanity; the feeling of respect that every Bahraini who has fled the island kingdom says is one of the major changes he experiences abroad.

He told The Guardian that he is "losing hope" and believes he will be tortured again or even killed if he is deported to Bahrain.

Speaking to the Guardian from Bangkok Remand Prison, a visibly distressed Al-Araibi said he was "terrified" and that his fear was "getting worse every day".

"I'm trying to be brave," he says in another statement, "But inside I'm broken."

"Broken from inside" - this is a common feeling that all Bahrainis like Hakeem suffer from. Al-Araibi has endured this until 2014. "In Bahrain there are no human rights and no safety for people like me," he shouts to media outlets while being dragged by the Thai security forces. Before heading to his honeymoon in Bangkok, his sister (residing in Bahrain) warned him it was a risk to travel but he had assured her: "I am under Australia's protection now, they will not let anything happen to me."

But as Craig Foster said, through chasing Hakeem "Bahrain is telling their citizens that no one is safe, we can get you anywhere in the world."

"Why did they put chains on my leg? I'm not an animal. It made me feel sick," said Al-Araibi. The shackles put around Al-Araibi's feet were not Thai, but rather Bahraini.

Bahrain has been risking its international reputation for a long time. But this time, it is dragging Thailand down with it! What confused the followers of Al-Araibi's case the most is the Thai stance. Thailand eventually said that it finds itself in the middle of a case involving both Australia and Bahrain competing for Mr Hakeem's custody.

Thailand relented in the Rahaf Al-Qunon case and quickly ended the matter by allowing her to leave for Canada, especially that Rahaf is Saudi.

Contrary to the rift with Saudi Arabia, the relations between Thailand and Bahrain are booming. The Bahraini Prime Minister Khalifa bin Salman even served as a mediator succeeding in slightly breaking the deadlock between Riyadh and Bangkok in 2016.

Khalifa bin Salman travels to Thailand every year for a special vacation. He owns a group of islands there, and is a partner of the former Thai king in the "Kempinski" International Hotels Group.

The monarchy in Thailand does not want to irritate its Gulf partner, and specifically does not want to irritate Khalifa bin Salman, who wants avenge his nephew Salman bin Ebrahim, president of the Asian Football Federation.

Khalifa bin Salman wants Hakeem Al-Araibi's head to satisfy his spoiled nephew, and the regime in Bahrain wants his head to satisfy their ego with what they perceive as a victory against the opposition and its supporters. It is ironic to talk about the image of Bahrain which is stained abroad, but it is striking that the government is ready to take things further, and expose itself once again amid all this media and political uproar around the world, to prove its strength, and not allow anyone to steal away its so-called "victories". It wants to stick to denial, regardless of the cost.

Hakeem reiterated to the media that him being targeted and imprisoned in Bahrain was due to the fact that he belongs to the Shiite faith, as well as retaliation due to his brother's political activism, and so is his imprisonment in Thailand now.

Hakeem has not practiced a political or human rights role since the opposition campaign against the candidature of Salman bin Ibrahim Al Khalifa for the FIFA presidency in 2016. Bahrain; however, doesn't care for having such noise, similar to that caused by the Khashoggi case, surround it, without even the slightest political motive.

Craig Foster, the former Australian team captain, who is one of the figures spearheading the campaign supporting Hakeem, says "this is not about extradition, it is about control, authority and retribution."

Although the case of Al-Araibi is a cause for grief for the people of Bahrain, it has also brought some relief to the downtrodden people, as in the name of Hakeem, the world has come to know the silent plight of Bahrainis who live under oppression and repression.

"I have to be strong, I miss my wife, I love her... She came to Australia because of me," he said.

Al-Araibi shouted in court "I don't want to go back to Bahrain. I want to go back to Australia...I am Austrian...not Bahraini."

It is true what a Bahraini intellectual living abroad once said: A homeland is what makes you feel home, not what subjugates you.


Arabic Version


التعليقات المنشورة لا تعبر بالضرورة عن رأي الموقع

comments powered by Disqus