On 7 January 2019, after the Thai authorities had a change of heart in regards to the 18-year-old Saudi asylum-seeker Rahaf Mohammed al-Qunun, Maj Gen Surachate Hakparn, the Thai Immigration Police chief, told reporters: “Thailand is the Land of Smiles. We will not send anyone to die.”
It has been confirmed around 15:00 today (11 February) that the Thai court has dropped the extradition trial of detained footballer and refugee Hakeem al-Araibi, and that Hakeem will be allowed to return to Australia.
In the case of Hakeem al-Araibi, the Thai government claims that its hands are tied. They can do nothing. They are only following the law, protocol, the judicial process – anything but justice and common sense. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a statement on 6 February which absolved themselves of all responsibility. Once they received the Interpol red notice (since withdrawn as invalid) and the request for extradition from Bahrain, ‘legal proceedings in Thailand regarding Mr Hakeem had already started and could not be reversed’. But they never had to start.
Yesterday (6 February 2019), the Football Federation Australia (FFA) issued a statement saying that it has cancelled a proposed trip to Thailand for the under-23 men’s national team, part of its preparation for the 2020 AFC U23 qualifiers in March.
Earlier today (4 February 2019), detained footballer and refugee Hakeem al-Araibi appeared at an extradition hearing at the Ratchadapisek Criminal Court, after prosecutors submitted a request for his extradition on behalf of the Bahraini government last week.
Ahead of refugee footballer Hakeem Ali al-Araibi’s extradition hearing in a Bangkok court today, Amnesty International’s Thailand campaigner, Katherine Gerson, said: “The Thai authorities should stop all proceedings relating to this absurd, cruel and cynical extradition request. It is well known that Hakeem survived torture in Bahrain and that his relatives continue to face persecution there. Hakeem and his wife have found sanctuary in Australia; he should not spend another day in detention and should be allowed home, to Melbourne, immediately.
Chatchom Akapin, Director-General of the International Affairs Department at the Office of the Attorney General, said that the Bahraini authorities have already filed an extradition request for detained footballer and refugee Hakeem al-Araibi. Hakeem al-Araibi (Source: gofundme.com)
(New York) – Thailand’s government should immediately release the refugee football player Hakeem al-Araibi and let him return to his wife and team in Australia, Human Rights Watch said today in announcing a campaign for his freedom. Following strong statements on his behalf by the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) and the International Olympic Committee, the Bahraini government has accelerated the extradition processto send him back to Bahrain.
A press conference was held yesterday (25 January 2019) at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Thailand (FCCT) regarding the detained Bahraini footballer and refugee Hakeem al-Araibi. Hakeem fled Bahrain after he was sentenced prison, and had reportedly been previously imprisoned and tortured for his brother’s political activities. He was arrested at Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport on 27 November 2018, while traveling to Thailand with his wife.
Senator Marise Payne, the Australian Minister of Foreign Affairs, said at a press conference this afternoon that Australia is concerned about the detention and possible extradition of Hakeem al-Araibi by the Thai authorities and that Australia is working with the relevant agencies on the cases of both Mr al-Araibi and Rahaf Mohammed al-Qunun.