BWI calls on Thailand to free footballer Hekeem al-Araibi

06 February 2019 20:28

BWI strongly supports the call by World Players Association, Human Rights Watch, FIFA, the International Olympic Committee and other international organizations to release refugee football player Hekeem al-Araibi and allow him to return to his wife and team in Australia.

An important principle of international human rights law is that a refugee should never be subject to “refoulement”, forced return to the country that the person fled. Thailand is bound by that principle.

The risk that al-Araibi would face if he returned to Bahrain is clear. When popular opposition rose up in his country in 2011, he was detained and tortured. The Government of Australia gave him asylum in 2017 based on that danger.

BWI calls on the government of Thailand to release al-Araibi. In addition, BWI urges its affiliates to join the campaign to #SaveHakeem by writing letters to the Thai government through its embassies or directly to Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha.

Thailand has expressed interest in hosting the 2034 World Cup. They should understand that their eligibility for consideration depends on their conformity with the human rights policies of FIFA.

BWI General Secretary Ambet Yuson stressed that, “special protections for refugees under international law exist for a reason. Sending refugees into danger, torture, or even death is totally unacceptable. These standards are the threshold of basic human decency. If Thailand wants to be part of the community of nations, it must respect international human rights law."