Final Letter To PM Morrison From Australian Athletes
Thursday 24 January, 2019 The Hon Scott Morrison MP Prime Minister of Australia Parliament House CANBERRA ACT 2600
Dear Prime Minister,
We write to raise the urgent case of Mr Hakeem Al-Araibi, and ask for your support in speaking directly to the Prime Minister of Thailand Prayut Chan-o-ocha, to secure his immediate release and safe return to Australia. Hakeem has been held in a Bangkok jail for the past 60 days, awaiting possible extradition to Bahrain, and the tragic consequences to his young life that would eventuate.
He is a torture survivor, former international athlete and brave young man who spoke out on behalf of the people of Bahrain for freedom and democracy. His rights as a refugee under international law are being contravened and we stand in solidarity with him as Champions and Captains of Australian sport. It is our duty as leaders to protect all athletes in our sporting communities. No athlete should ever be sanctioned, much less imprisoned and tortured, for expressing their right to free speech and their support for the rule of law and democracy. Hakeem is also a recognised refugee and, having been put in this extremely vulnerable situation, now needs our help, and your voice.
We welcome the advocacy of Foreign Minister, Marise Payne who raised Hakeem’s case publicly and directly with the Minister for Foreign Affairs of Thailand, Mr Don Pramudwinai and Deputy Prime Minister, Mr Prajin Juntong. Nevertheless, Hakeem remains imprisoned. Despite progress made on the issue by Minister Payne, Hakeem’s physical and psychological wellbeing is of very serious concern to us, as fellow athletes. We cannot stress the gravity, and urgency of this matter to the sporting community enough.
Your escalation of the issue, not just as Prime Minister of Australia, but as a recognised and self-avowed lover of sport, would signal to the Government of Thailand that the human rights of Hakeem al-Araibi, one of our fellow internationals, are to be protected to the maximum degree.
It would also confirm that Australia takes this contravention of the friendship between our two nations with the utmost urgency and gravity.
Yours Sincerely, The undersigned.
James Maloney Rugby League World Cup Champion, two time NRL Champion, Panthers' Captain and NRL Players Assn, Rugby League
Alex Wilkinson President, Professional Footballers Australia, Football
Natalie Medhurst Three time World Champion, Commonwealth Champion, President AUS Netball Players Association, Netball
Greg Dyer President Australian Cricketers' Association, World Cup Champion, Cricket
Lisa Sthalekar Fmr AUS Cricket Captain, World Cup Champion, World Twenty20 Champion, Cricket
Kim Brennan, AM Olympic Gold, Silver and Bronze Medalist, World Champion, Rowing
Steve Hooker, OAM Olympic Gold Medalist, World Champion, Commonwealth Champion, Athletics
Daniel Kowalski, OAM Olympic Gold, Silver and Double Bronze Medalist, World Champion, Commonwealth Champion, Swimming
Laura Hodges Double Olympic Silver and Bronze Medalist, Commonwealth Champion, Basketball
Jess Fox Olympic Silver and Bronze Medalist, nine time World Champion, Canoe
Lydia Lassila, OAM Olympic Gold and Bronze Medalist, Freestyle Skiing
Alex Tobin Olympian, Fmr AUS Football Captain, Football
Frank Farina, OAM Olympian, Fmr AUS National Team Coach, Football
Paul Wade Olympian, Fmr AUS Football Captain, Football
Craig Foster Fmr AUS Football Captain, Football
Natalie Galea Olympian, International Judo Federation Athletes Commission, Judo
Nikki Dryden Olympian, Commonwealth Bronze Medalist, Swimming
Matt White Olympian, Cycling
Caroline Anderson, nee Bartasek, Olympian, Taekwondo
Katie Kelly, OAM Paralympic Gold Medalist, World Champion, Triathlon
Cate Campbell, OAM Olympic Gold and Bronze Medalist, World Champion, Swimming
Jamie Dwyer, OAM Olympic Gold and Bronze Medalist, Hockey
Maria Pekli Olympic Bronze Medalist, Judo
Margot Foster Olympic Bronze Medalist, Rowing
Shelley Watts Olympian, Commonwealth Champion, Boxing
Scott Kneller Olympian, Alpine Skiing
Michelle Engelsman Olympian, World Championship Silver Medalist, Swimming
Melissa Mitchell-Gumley Olympian, World Champion and Silver Medalist, Swimming
Jane Saville Olympic Bronze Medalist, three time Commonwealth Champion, Athletics
Natalie Saville Olympian, Commonwealth Silver Medalist, Athletics