Refugee footballer Hakeem al-Araibi arrives at court in Thailand

April FrancisFeb 06, 2019

Al-Araibi pleaded with Thai authorities on Monday, saying "please don't send me to Bahrain" after arriving in shackles to a Bangkok court.

The campaign ramped up this afternoon after al-Araibi appeared on Monday in the Bangkok Criminal Court, shackled and in a beige prison uniform and formally refused Bahrain's request to be returned to his homeland.

Given Bahrain's history of human rights abuses against those who criticize the powerful ruling family, there is no doubt that if al-Araibi were extradited, he would face imprisonment and torture.

Al Araibi has gained support from Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison and sport officials such as Fatma Samoura, the secretary-general of soccer's world governing body, FIFA, and Praful Patel, vice president of the Asian Football Confederation.

Al-Araibi's wife, who is back in Australia, recently spoke out against her husband's situation and declared he will be killed should he be sent back to Bahrain.

"Certainly, we've been in touch with Hakeem's wife very regularly throughout and she's extremely depressed, as everyone would be aware", Foster said.

Al Araibi's case has drawn global attention and condemnation from his supporters who say he risks being tortured if returned to Bahrain.

Al-Araibi has previously said he was blindfolded and had his legs beaten while being held in Bahrain previously, and was granted refugee status by Australia, where he made his new life in Melbourne.

Al-Araibi was sentenced to 10 years' jail in absentia over the firebombing of a police station in Bahrain in November 2012.

The detention - and possible extradition - of al-Araiba has prompted demonstrations in Australia and elsewhere in support of the embattled footballer.

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Jones said al-Araibi has not been able to sleep properly for days and has fallen sick from being in an overcrowded prison.

"The Thai government should see that Bahrain's sole motive is to further punish Hakeem for the peaceful political opinions he expressed", Amnesty International Thailand campaigner Katherine Gerson said in a statement.

Bahrain, a Gulf monarchy that is home to the US Fifth Fleet naval base, has a Shiite majority but is ruled by a Sunni monarchy.

The Bahraini government insists that he be treated as a simple fugitive. Thai officials previously said a trial could be lengthy, depending on how many witnesses are called by each side.

Chatchom said administrators of the Thai government have not intervened in the case but he had received a letter from Thailand's foreign ministry that stated only that the case could affect worldwide relations.

Representatives from the Australian embassy, as well as FIFA´s Federico Addiechi, also attended the hearing. They don't respect human rights. "The case that is going to prove whether sport and human rights is substantive, and that the political and huge economic implications coming out of the Middle East region cannot play any role in what is a very basic case of a refugee law".

"Don't send me to Bahrain", he said outside the courthouse.

Nadthasiri Bergman, Al-Araibi's lawyer, said she will file an appeal to the prosecutors' request.

She said she requested his release on bail but it was denied because the court deemed him a flight risk.

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