Refugee footballer makes triumphant return to Australia

Refugee footballer makes triumphant return to Australia

Refugee footballer Hakeem al-Araibi made a triumphant return to Australia on Tuesday, ending a two month ordeal that noticed him jailed in Thailand and threatened with compelled return to his native Bahrain.

A throng of nicely wishers decked in #SAVEHAKEEM T-shirts cheered and sang the soccer anthem “You may By no means Stroll Alone” as they greeted the 25-year-old defender at Melbourne Airport, after an in a single day flight to freedom aboard Thai Airways flight 465.

“I need to thank Australia,” mentioned a smiling Araibi, including that “that is my nation”.“I haven’t got citizenship but, however my nation is Australia. I’ll die in Australia and I like Australia,” he mentioned.

Araibi was detained on Nov 27, 2018 whereas on honeymoon on the request of Bahraini authorities who accuse him of offences linked to the 2011 Arab Spring uprisings.

His detention sparked worldwide outcry and a protracted diplomatic dispute between Bahrain, Thailand and Australia that raised questions concerning the neutrality of the Worldwide Legal Police Organisation, generally generally known as Interpol, and the writ of Canberra’s refugee protections.

Araibi had expressed worry that he can be tortured and killed if he returned to Bahrain and supporters alleged his prosecution was politically motivated.Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison led celebration of Araibi’s launch, saying many Australians’ prayers had been answered.

“We all know all Australians will deeply recognize the choice, permitting him to return to his spouse, household and mates.”

Morrison thanked the Thai authorities, who had earlier left his written appeals for Araibi’s return unanswered, however abruptly dropped extradition proceedings on Monday at Bahrain’s request.

“We’ve been knowledgeable that Bahrain desires to withdraw the (extradition) request… if they do not need him, we’ve got no purpose to maintain him right here,” Chatchom Akapin, a director-general within the Thai prosecutor’s workplace, instructed AFP.

The case had additionally change into a trigger celebre within the soccer world, with stars like Didier Drogba calling for Araibi’s launch and FIFA urging the Thai soccer authorities to intervene.

The worldwide soccer governing physique on Monday thanked Thailand in an announcement for “doing the appropriate factor” and mentioned it hoped the athlete “will be capable of resume his footballing profession quickly”.

‘Merciless and inhumane’
Former Australian soccer captain Craig Foster, who led a marketing campaign within the sporting group for Araibi’s freedom, expressed his “deepest gratitude” for the information.“My thanks go to the fantastic folks of Thailand in your help and to the Thai (authorities) for upholding worldwide regulation,” Foster posted on Twitter.

Sayed Ahmed Alwadaei, of the Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy, mentioned the case had introduced the plight of others imprisoned within the nation to gentle. “Two moments captured the world’s consideration this month: the picture of footballer Hakeem al-Araibi shackled and barefoot, and the second of Hakeem breaking the chains and reunited together with his beloved spouse, mates and the soccer group in Melbourne.”

Kasit Piromya, a board member of the foyer group ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights, mentioned the case confirmed the failings of Thailand’s “outdated” legal guidelines and insurance policies.

Thailand’s remedy of refugees has been thrust beneath worldwide scrutiny in latest weeks. In January, an 18-year-old Saudi girl who ran away from her household arrived in Bangkok’s airport, and armed with a smartphone and a captive Twitter viewers managed to outmanoeuvre Thai authorities and acquire refuge in Canada following her pleas for asylum from her “abusive” household.

Bahrain’s reversal of Araibi’s extradition is shocking. Solely final week the Gulf state issued an announcement defending its determination to pursue the footballer after he fled whereas awaiting trial, and he was convicted in absentia in 2014 for damaging a police station.However Araibi says his prosecution was motivated by his criticism of Asian Soccer Confederation president Sheikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa, a member of Bahrain’s ruling household.

An announcement from Bahrain’s overseas ministry on Monday mentioned it “takes notice of the halt in authorized proceedings” although it didn’t affirm it had withdrawn its extradition request.

“The responsible verdict towards Al Araibi stays in place…. (Bahrain) reaffirms its proper to pursue all vital authorized actions towards [Araibi],” the assertion mentioned.

The reversal got here a day after Thailand’s overseas minister met with Bahrain’s Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa in Manama to “focus on … areas of curiosity”, in keeping with Bahrain’s state-run information company.

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