Thais defend arrest of refugee footballer
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. –