Daily Trends Now
Daily Trends Now

Australia government urges Thailand to free refugee footballer Hakeem al-Araibi

Australia government urges Thailand to free refugee footballer Hakeem al-Araibi

Football Federation Australia announced Wednesday it had scrapped the game against China, a scheduled warmup ahead of next month's qualifiers for the Asian under-23 championships.

However, the week-long camp will be rearranged and held elsewhere in Asia after FFA decided Thailand was no longer an appropriate destination in light of ongoing detention of al-Araibi, a former Bahrani worldwide who was granted refugee status in Australia and plays for Pascoe Value in NPL Victoria.

Thailand faces increasing global pressure for the detention and possible extradition of a Bahraini football player as a social media campaign takes off for his release.

Khamis rejected the claim that Thailand were unable to reverse the process, instead maintaining that the Thai government's role in extraditing Hakeem to Bahrain was financially motivated.

Thailand has come under great pressure from Australia's government, sporting bodies and human rights groups to send Hakeem al-Araibi back to Australia.

Diplomacy has wandered into the testy situation between Bahrain, Australia and Thailand in the case of jailed Bahraini footballer Hakeem al-Arabi.

Al-Araibi appeared shackled and handcuffed at a Criminal Court hearing in Bangkok on Monday (February 4).

He was arrested in Thailand on November 27 while on holiday and on Monday was shown arriving at court in leg restraints, shouting "Don't send me to Bahrain".

Araibi, 25, says he faces torture if returned to Bahrain.

"Indeed, we would not have become involved in the issue had we not received the red notice alert from the Australian Interpol and the subsequent formal request by Bahrain for his arrest and extradition".

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha said the case would be tried in court in compliance with Thai judicial procedures and the government is not in a position to interfere.

"Australia's national teams are united in their support for Hakeem al-Araibi and we call on the community to continue to campaign for his release", Australia coach Graham Arnold said.

"If you look at the number of foreign defendants, they pay their bail and jump bail and then don't show up in court", Chatchom Akapin, the office's director general for global affairs, said, adding that the policy applied "not only to Hakeem".

"I was very disturbed at the appearance of Hakeem at the hearing the other day".

"I am respectfully reminding the Thai PM that Australians feel very strongly about this".

Senator Payne said she had also encouraged Bahrain's government not to to proceed with the extradition.

Bahraini authorities deny allegations of torture.

"We are asking the prime minister to allow Hakeem al Araibi to return to Australia", Australian ambassador-designate Allan McKinnon reiterated outside the court, adding that representatives of 15 other countries were present to observe the proceedings.

"In 2019, Thailand will launch Thai-mart which is the biggest economic centre in Bahrain and the import and exports between Bahrain and Thailand are expected to be worth around US$400m annually".

Thailand's Attorney-General is expected to hold a news briefing on the case.

Foreign Affairs Minister Marise Payne said she had visited Bangkok personally to call on Thai authorities to use their discretion in Mr al-Araibi's case.

"So between now and then, Mr Araibi will have to be in custody at least until August", Mr Trumph said.


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