Thais de­fend ar­rest of refugee foot­baller

The Myanmar Times - - Asean Focus -

THAI­LAND’S de­ten­tion of Ha­keem AlAraibi, a refugee foot­baller from Bahrain who lives in Aus­tralia, con­forms to the in­ter­na­tional law on hu­man rights, says Im­mi­gra­tion Bu­reau com­mis­sioner Su­rachate Hak­parn.

Pol Lt Gen Su­rachate made the re­mark at a meet­ing with act­ing Aus­tralian am­bas­sador to Thai­land Paul Stephens on Mon­day. He said he told the en­voy that the bu­reau has strictly fol­lowed the law in de­tain­ing AlAraibi and that it was treat­ing him in line with in­ter­na­tional reg­u­la­tions.

Last week, rights ac­tivists de­manded the re­lease of AlAraibi, who may be de­ported to Bahrain, where they say he could face per­se­cu­tion.

Ac­tivists be­gan tweet­ing on Mon­day that AlAraibi had been taken from Suan Plu Im­mi­gra­tion De­ten­tion Cen­tre to an un­known place.

Univer­sity of Syd­ney tu­tor Zainab Ab­dul-Nabi said there were strong fears he was be­ing pre­pared for de­por­ta­tion to Bahrain.

AlAraibi was ar­rested on ar­rival at a Bangkok air­port based on an In­ter­pol no­tice is­sued at Bahrain’s re­quest. AlAraibi was con­victed of van­dal­is­ing a po­lice sta­tion in Bahrain and sen­tenced to 10 years in prison in ab­sen­tia. He has de­nied any wrong­do­ing.

Aus­tralia’s For­eign Af­fairs and Trade De­part­ment said in a state­ment it was “in di­rect con­tact with Thai author­i­ties re­gard­ing this is­sue.”

AlAraibi has been a vo­cal critic of the Asian Foot­ball Fed­er­a­tion pres­i­dent Sheikh Sal­man Alkhal­ifa, who is a cousin of the king. He was tor­tured by Bahraini author­i­ties be­cause of his brother’s ac­tiv­i­ties dur­ing the Arab Spring up­ris­ing in 2011, ac­cord­ing to Hu­man Rights Watch. –

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