Tortured Bahraini footballer returns to Australia

This 11 February 2019 video says about itself:

Hakeem al-Araibi returns to Australia after two months in Thai prison | ABC News

Australian footballer and refugee Hakeem al-Araibi has arrived home in Melbourne after being freed from the Thai prison where he was held awaiting an extradition hearing.

Read more here.

Translated from Dutch NOS TV today:

After a few scary months in Thailand, Bahraini footballer Hakeem al-Araibi is back home in Australia. Hundreds of fans and friends were waiting for him at Melbourne Airport.

The 25-year-old Araibi was arrested in November during his honeymoon because he was wanted via Interpol. Bahrain had an international arrest order outstanding to Araibi.

Araibi used to play in the national team of Bahrain. He fled the country in 2014 after being indicted in connection with protests against the government during the Arab Spring in 2011. In Australia he plays for Pascoe Vale in the second division.

At the airport, the footballer showed that he was happy to be back. “Australia is my country,” Araibi said. “I do not have the nationality yet, but this is my country, I love Australia.” …

The FIFA world football association and various football professionals had expressed criticism of the arrest.

Hakeem Al-Araibi, a football player and refugee with permanent residency in Australia, was freed by authorities in Thailand yesterday after they dropped court proceedings to extradite him to Bahrain, where he faced politically-motivated charges. Al-Araibi flew to his home in Melbourne, Australia overnight. The release of Al-Araibi is undoubtedly a welcome development. Had the 25-year-old been extradited to his native Bahrain, Al-Araibi would have faced abuse, imprisonment and possibly worse at the hands of the despotic US-backed Middle Eastern regime: here.


Tortured Bahraini footballer freed in Thailand

This 11 February 2019 video says about itself:

Thai court orders release of Hakeem al Araibi

Thailand will free by the end of Monday a refugee Bahraini footballer with residency status in Australia who was arrested more than two months ago, a prosecutor in the case said.

Translated from Dutch NOS TV today:

Teammate Van’ t Schip’s ‘intense happiness’ about the freeing of Araibi

By Marijke van der Groef

“For three months you’re in stress, as teammates you do not really know how you can help, you worry, so now the relief is very big.”

The words are by Davey van ‘t Schip, teammate of Hakeem al-Araibi, the footballer who has been detained for months in Thailand. That country wanted to extradite him to his native Bahrain. But on Monday morning the news came suddenly that Araibi, who plays at the Australian Pascoe Vale club, would be released without charge.

Davey van 't Schip

“I was eating out with my friends, one of the boys was on Facebook and he saw it, I really got goose bumps, you are intensely happy that your teammate will get his life back”, says Van ‘t Schip.

Although the son of former [Dutch] Ajax player John van ‘t Schip is still not 100% sure yet: “It seems that when he was arrested there already was a ticket booked for him, so I really only will believe it when I will see him here at the airport tomorrow. ”

Refugee player

That airport will be the airport of Melbourne. The place where the now 25-year-old Araibi started a new life after he fled his homeland Bahrain. He had been indicted there in connection with protests against the government during the Arab Spring in 2011 and also has been tortured. The Bahraini international team player fled to Australia and received a residence permit there more than four years ago.

The footballer is indeed under contract with Pascoe Vale FC, but until he was arrested in Thailand, most teammates knew little about his background. Van ‘t Schip too.

“I knew he was an asylum seeker, but we did not really know much he had been tortured or what his background was, I can imagine that he was terrified that he would be sent back to a country that tortured him for political reasons.”

A week became three months

Araibi left for his honeymoon to Thailand in November. He was opposed to stay away for a week, which was almost three months. His name turned out to be on an international search warrant after which he was detained. The football community in Australia came into action and human rights organizations also spoke out.

Last Friday all captains from the highest division clubs in Australia asked for attention for the situation of Araibi. Before the start of the Australian Supercup, they showed football shirts with number 5, Hakeem al Araibi’s number.

Australian team captains' pro-Araibi demonstration

Van ‘t Schip is convinced that all attention has helped. “Without the club, and the people within the club who started an entire campaign and have exerted pressure on Thailand and Bahrain, it would have been different, without the club he would have been in Bahrain.”

For a long time, it looked like the military dictatorship in Thailand might send Araibi to Bahrain, to be tortured by the Bahraini royal dictatorship. While the Australian right-wing government did not really care about this footballer with an Australian residence permit as a recognized refugee. Like Donald Trump, they don’t mind if dictatorships are dictatorships and torturers, as long as they are allies.

Now, however, it turns out pro-human rights activism, even against dictatorships, can work.

Back to football

Araibi will be released on Monday evening according to a Thai spokesman and he will be able to return to Australia. The Australian football competition will start on Thursday. Van ‘t Schip will be happy to see his teammate again.

“I think Thursday is a bit too early for him, but it’s nice that he can build up his whole life again and football is a big part of that.” I assume he will start training again next week.”

Before that, Araibi will get a warm welcome on Australian soil. “The president of the club will send us his flight details so I think there will be some guys at the airport tomorrow”, Van’t Schip concludes, relieved.

Don’t extradite tortured footballer to Bahrain regime

This 28 December 2018 video says about itself:

Hakeem al Araibi: Football’s Political Prisoner

The story of Hakeem al Araibi, and how regimes punish those that speak out, and how football and the Asian Football Confederation became complicit in that persecution.

Translated from Dutch NOS TV today:

FIFA demands release of Bahraini footballer in Thailand

FIFA, the world football association, demands that the Bahraini footballer Hakeem Al-Araibi be immediately freed from his Thai prison. Al-Araibi was arrested in Thailand in November at the request of Bahrain and has been in a cell since. Bahrain has asked for his extradition.

Araibi applied for political asylum in Australia in 2014, where he plays with a refugee status at Pascoe Vale, a club in the second division. He was arrested during a holiday to Thailand. …

The case causes a lot of turmoil, especially in Australia. Craig Foster, former Australian team captain, campaigns actively for the release of Araibi and met with FIFA secretary general Fatma Samoura in Zurich on Monday.

“We all feel that this is an emergency situation that requires steps from all parties involved to protect Hakeem”, Foster said. “We call on Thailand again to release Hakeem immediately and to respect his international human rights.”

Araibi fears that he will be tortured if he would be handed over to Bahrain. “He was physically tortured in 2012 and he knows what lies ahead”, Foster said. “That’s why the Australian footballers have spoken up so strongly.”

Bahraini torture of political prisoners

This December 2018 video is called Naji Fateel, human rights defender, Bahrain.

By Phil Miller in Britain:

Sunday, January 20, 2019

Hunt urged ‘intervene’ to help hunger-striking political prisoners in Bahrain

TWO British parliamentarians have written to Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt demanding his “urgent intervention” to help political prisoners on hunger strike in Bahrain.

Labour MP and Corbyn ally Lloyd Russell-Moyle and Lib Dem peer Lord Scriven are raising the case of Ali AlHajee and Naji Fateel who have been on hunger strike for over 60 days.

Mr Fateel, a director of the Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights, is serving a lengthy jail sentence for his activism. The UN committee against torture has called for his immediate release.

Opposition to Bahrain’s tyrannical King Hamad is routinely met with torture and imprisonment.

Britain is one of Bahrain’s closest allies and has trained hundreds of guards at the Gulf kingdom’s high-security Jau prison where inmates are refusing food.

Last year the Morning Star revealed that political prisoners at Jau are shackled with handcuffs made in Birmingham.

We reported on the case of jailed opposition leader, frail Hassan Mushaima, who was being denied medical treatment unless he wore shackles to the sick bay.

His exiled son Ali launched a hunger strike outside the Bahrain embassy in London, and only resumed eating when the Jau prison authorities finally promised to improve medical care at the jail.

However, that pledge proved to be short lived with other inmates now warning their health is at risk.

The British parliamentarians described conditions at Jau as “inhumane” and said in their letter: “Mr AlHajee and Mr Fateel are constantly being denied basic entitlements while in detention in Jau prison.

“While Mr AlHajee needs surgery to his lower jaw and requires urgent dental implants, Mr Fateel needs surgery to extract iron splints from his leg.”

They warned that another 20 inmates have since gone on hunger strike at the jail, and said Mr Fateel is threatening to dramatically escalate his hunger strike tomorrow and begin refusing fluids.

The prisoners’ complaints are particularly embarrassing for the Tory government which has spent millions of pounds training Bahrain’s jailers, including on their healthcare policies.

“It is highly concerning that Mr AlHajee and Mr Fateel are putting their lives at risk to get their basic entitlements,” the politicians warned Jeremy Hunt.

“Therefore, we urge you to act swiftly on behalf of Mr AlHajee and Mr Fateel by making representations to the Bahraini government to grant both inmates immediate access to medical care and release them.”

Dutch government deports refugee to Bahraini jail

This November 2015 Human Rights Watch video says about itself:

No End to Torture in Bahrain

Bahraini security forces are torturing detainees during interrogation. Institutions set up after 2011 to receive and investigate complaints lack independence and transparency. Human Rights Watch has concluded that security forces have continued the same abuses the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI) documented in its November 2011 report. The commission was established after the fierce repression of pro-democracy demonstrators in February and March of that year. Bahraini authorities have failed to implement effectively the commission’s recommendations relating to torture, Human Rights Watch found.

The dictatorship in Sudan kills its own people. The dictatorship in Sudan helps the Saudi crown prince and United States President Trump in their bloody war on the people of Yemen.

The dictatorship in Sudan helped the NATO war on Libya. The dictatorship in Sudan helps the European Union to stop refugees.

As long as the Sudanese dictatorship continues to do that, they will be in the good books of NATO countries’ governments.

They are also in the good books of governments which are not NATO members themselves, but allies of NATO members. Like they are in the good books of the United Arab Emirates absolute monarchy, another government joining the Saudi and Sudanese dictatorships in waging war on Yemen.

Sudanese dictator Bashir also has a good relationship to the absolute monarchy Bahrain. The king of Bahrain has sent his torturing sons to wage war on the people of Bahrain. The Bahraini regime harshly punishes subjects who want peace in Yemen.

Being in NATO governments’ good books means for Bashir that NATO country Belgium deports Sudanese refugees to his torture jails. And that NATO country the Netherlands deports Sudanese refugees to his torture jails.

The royal dictatorship in Bahrain is likewise an ally of NATO governments. Meaning that the Dutch government deports Bahraini refugees to Bahraini torture jails.

Translated from Dutch NOS TV today:

“Asylum seeker deported by the Netherlands jailed in Bahrain”

An asylum seeker from Bahrain who was deported by the Netherlands was arrested immediately after arriving in the Arab country last October. Amnesty International and [pro refugee organisation] Vluchtelingenwerk Nederland report this. According to the organizations, Ali Mohammed al-Showaikh has been imprisoned ever since and there are strong indications that he has been tortured.

Amnesty and Vluchtelingenwerk also write in a letter that the man does not have confidential access to a lawyer and has signed a confession under pressure. The organizations call on the Netherlands to address the Bahraini government and to investigate the deportation of Showaikh.

Ali Mohammed al-Showaikh fled from Bahrain to the Netherlands in 2017 for fear of persecution. His brother had already fled the country because of his political activities. According to Amnesty, Bahrain has in the past more often pressured, abused or arrested family members of dissidents. Since 2016, the human rights situation has deteriorated seriously and more than 150 critics or their family members have been subjected to severe repression, writes Amnesty.

IND investigation

According to the human rights organizations, the Immigration and Naturalization Service (IND) could have known that activists and their family members are at risk, but the asylum application of Showaikh was nevertheless rejected. The organizations state that they are concerned about the thoroughness of the IND procedures.

They call on the Netherlands for the time being to stop deporting anyone to Bahrain and to conduct an independent investigation. It must also be checked whether the Netherlands has violated the non-refoulement principle. That is the ban on expulsion to a country where a refugee is at risk or may be prosecuted.

A protest in favour of Hakeem Al-Araibi outside the Thai Consulate in Melbourne, Australia on December 4 2018

By Sue Bolton, Melbourne, Australia, December 21, 2018:

#SaveHakeem – Stop deportation of Bahraini refugee

Bahraini refugee Hakeem Al-Araibi has been held in detention in Thailand since November 27, facing the terrifying prospect of deportation to the country where he was tortured.

Al-Araibi fled to Australia in 2014 and was accepted as a refugee. In November, he travelled on UN travel documents to Thailand for a short holiday with his wife. When he arrived at Bangkok airport, Al-Araibi was arrested under an Interpoll “Red Notice” (an international arrest warrant) issued by the Bahrain government.

Interpol is not meant to issue red notices for refugees, so this red notice should never have been issued for Al-Araibi. The Interpol system of red notices has been widely discredited, because countries with terrible human rights records use them against political dissidents.

Interpol realised that Al-Araibi was a refugee on December 3 and withdrew the notice. Al-Araibi should have been released on December 11, but the Thai authorities decided to extend his detention for 60 more days to prepare for his extradition to Bahrain.

The international outcry over the detention and possible deportation of Al-Araibi has drawn attention to the discredited system of Red Notices, the threat to refugees, and the role of the Australian government in the whole affair.

The Australian government initially told the Thai authorities they had no responsibility for Al-Araibi because he was not an Australian citizen. The Australian officials should have said the Australian government had a responsibility to defend Al-Araibi because he had been granted refugee status due to political persecution. That might have resolved the situation.

Instead, the Australian government has been shamed by the international outcry into taking a stronger position in support of Al-Araibi. The Bahraini diaspora, the Gulf Institute for Democracy and Human Rights, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have all campaigned strongly for the release of Al-Araibi and for him to have the right to return to Australia.

Since then, the football community has joined the campaign. Al-Araibi played soccer for the Bahrain national team and in Australia he plays for the Pascoe Vale Football Club. Former Socceroo and current SBS commentator Craig Foster has been outspoken in calling for Al-Araibi to be returned to Australia. Other senior soccer players to speak out in support of Al-Araibi are former Socceroo Craig Moore and ex-captain Paul Wade. FIFA (Fédération Internationale de Football Association) and the Football Federation Australia (FFA) are also supporting the campaign.

However, the Asian Football Confederation president, Bahraini royal Sheik Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa, has been silent. Craig Foster has called on him to support Al-Araibi or resign.

The international pressure and local community pressure has forced the Australian government to reveal its own shady role in the detention of Al-Araibi.

A statement from the Thai Ministry of Foreign Affairs stated that the detention of Al-Araibi had been carried out in response to the red notice alert received from the Interpol National Central Bureau of Australia as well as the formal request from the Bahraini government for Al-Araibi’s extradition.

The question that needs to be asked is on whose authority did the Australian Interpol office issue a red alert, especially when this is in breach of Interpol’s protocols that such notices cannot be used against refugees? Secondly, why didn’t the Australian authorities intervene immediately after Al-Araibi’s arrest to tell the Thai authorities that Al-Araibi is a refugee?

Al-Araibi’s lawyers have lodged a request for ministerial intervention to grant citizenship to Al-Araibi.

Fatima Yazbek of the Gulf Institute for Democracy and Human Rights called on the Australian government, especially the Minister of Home Affairs Peter Dutton, to grant Al-Araibi Australian citizenship to save him from the imminent danger he will face if deported to Bahrain.

Yazbec said: “Bahraini prisons lack the minimum standards of prisoners’ rights, and the political prisoners are suffering from miserable conditions and lack of basic rights.

“The repression against the opponents of the Gulf States, especially following the murder of the Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi and the death penalties issued against Saudi human rights activists, gives an indication of what is awaiting Hakeem Al-Araibi in the Bahraini prisons.

“We call on all the sports and football community to demand granting Hakeem the Australian citizenship”, she added.

Al-Ariabi has good reason to be terrified at the prospect of being sent to Bahrain. He was arrested and tortured by the Bahraini authorities, allegedly due to the political activities of his brother. After Al-Araibi fled the country, the Bahraini authorities sentenced him for vandalising a police station. Al-Araibi was known to be playing football at the time the authorities claim he was vandalising the police station.

According to Human Rights Watch, Bahrain’s human rights situation continued to worsen in 2017: “Authorities shut down the country’s only independent newspaper and the leading secular-left opposition political society. The country’s preeminent human rights defender remained in prison on speech charges. The government, ending a de facto moratorium on use of the death penalty, executed three people in January following unfair trials, despite their alleging that they had been tortured and their confessions coerced.”

Bahrain dictatorship supports Sudan dictatorship

This tweet, by Bahraini pro-democracy activist Ebrahim Sharif, shows how the Bahraini royal dictatorship censors criticism of the Sudanese ‘republican’ military dictatorship; like it also censors criticism of the Saudi regimeBahraini regimeSudanese regime‘s war on the people of Yemen.