Torture Fears For Aussie Refugee Soccer Player Detained In Thai Jail
Lawyers for a Melbourne-based refugee being detained in Thailand are demanding Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton grant him emergency Australian citizenship.
Semi-professional soccer player Hakeem AlAraibi is facing deportation to his native Bahrain after being arrested in Bangkok over an incorrectly issued Interpol Red Notice while on holiday with his wife last month.
The 25-year-old Australian permanent resident fears he will be tortured if he is sent back to Bahrain after fleeing the country in 2014.
Refugees are not supposed to be issued with Interpol Red notices requested by the country from which they have fled.
Thailand would also be in breach of international law if it proceeds with extradition.
Latifa al-Haouli of Sabelberg Morcos Lawyers lodged a request with the Home Affairs Department on December 10, but she is yet to to hear back from Dutton.
"This request requires emergency government intervention and marks Australia's stance on protecting legitimate refugees," she said.
Gulf Institute for Democracy and Human Rights spokeswoman Fatima Yazbek is asking for compassion from Dutton.
She said granting immediate citizenship would "save his life from the imminent danger he will face if deported to Bahrain".
Foreign Minister Marise Payne has called for AlAraibi's immediate release from detention and safe return to Melbourne as soon as possible.
She has raised the matter with Thai counterpart Don Pramudwinai.
But it was revealed that Australia's National Interpol Bureau tipped off Thailand about AlAraibi's arrival in the country for his first overseas holiday since fleeing Bahrain.
His visa allows him to remain in Australia indefinitely and to travel to and from the country, so long as he does not travel to Bahrain.
His supporters will rally at the Australian Federal Police's Melbourne headquarters on Wednesday afternoon calling for action.
Refugee Action Collective's Chris Breen said the Australian government needed to reinvigorate its efforts in support of AlAraibi.
"Minister Dutton has not spelt out the legal reasons he claims prevent him granting Hakeem citizenship," Breen said.
"Granting Hakeem citizenship could be an important stepping up of the advocacy of the Australian government for Hakeem's freedom."
A former member of the Bahrain national football team, AlAraibi played in the National Premier Leagues Victoria for Pascoe Vale this year.
He has received support from FIFA, Football Federation Australia and Football Federation Victoria.
Former Socceroos captains Craig Foster and Craig Moore have sent letters to Thailand's Prime Minister pleading for AlAraibi to be released.