Thailand should release refugee footballer
“If I Go to Bahrain, I Will Be Tortured Again”
Former Bahraini national footballer Hakeem al-Araibi is languishing in a Thai prison in grave danger of being deported back to Bahrain. There he could face an unfair trial, imprisonment and even torture.
Since 2011, Hakeem has spoken out against torture and other rights abuses in Bahrain. In 2014 he fled Bahrain after being unjustly convicted of vandalizing a police station, a crime that took place while he was playing football in a televised game. He has since been granted refugee status in Australia and is playing for an Australian team. Last December he went to Thailand with his wife for their honeymoon, but at the Bangkok airport was detained after Bahrain authorities issued an illegitimate INTERPOL “red notice” for his arrest. Although the red notice has since been lifted, Hakeem remains in detention.
As a registered football player, Hakeem should be protected by the strengthened human rights policy of FIFA, football’s international governing body. So far FIFA has not taken action on Hakeem’s behalf. We want this to change.
Please join our call and urge Thai authorities to stay true to Hakeem’s refugee status and allow him to return to Australia. If he is deported to Bahrain he would be at grave risk of serious abuses.
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