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I just don’t get it...

Comment
Winfred Peppinck


I just don’t get it ... people who go overseas, get into trouble, then run to the embassy to “get me out of here”.

Like Hakeem Al Arabi, spending over a week in a jail cell following his immediate arrest from a flight from Australia to Thailand.

In Bahrain, with his brothers, arrested after demonstrating at the Pearl Roundabout, alleging he was “tortured following his part, in the Arab Spring demonstrations”.

Released after three months, according to the Guardian newspaper, he eventually played football in Bahrain’s national side. Then while playing in Qatar, he fled to Iran via various countries including Malaysia, seeking asylum in Australia.

Very swiftly granted, despite there still being hundreds of asylum seekers seeking similar sanctuary in Australia, currently still held, to Australia’s shame many years, many claiming “severe consequences” if they are returned “home”.

Hakeem was very happy in Australia, played semi-professional football in Melbourne, even married there.

He and his new wife wanted to honeymoon in Thailand.

Allegedly, his sister phoned him from Bahrain, telling him not to risk travelling; his brothers received 10-year jail sentences for vandalising a police station.

He allegedly replied that he had “checked with Australian immigration authorities”, and they told him that he was “fine, provided he did not go back to Bahrain”.

Hakeem allegedly told her, “No problem, I am travelling under Australian protection.”

He had lived in Australia for five years.

But in 2016, he had spoken to the media about his torture, that all international athletes who had supported the Arab Spring were detained, and that harsh action had been taken against “Shias like Hakeem” and he (now) spoke out because he was “pro-democracy.”

“That FIFA vice-president and president of the governing body for Asia, was a bad man.”

Yet he travelled to Thailand, an own goal!

Usually, consular assistance, to people who get into trouble, ensure that people in prison receive contact advise, entitlement to legal representation and help to contact “people at home,” if desired.

If you travel overseas, the laws of “the host land” prevails, not Australian law; when an Interpol Red notice applies, border authorities everywhere are alerted.

So Bahrain alerted Interpol, Hakeem was a person of Interest and they have until February 8, to revoke, under human rights rules, to which Bahrain is a party.

Hakeem, “has pull", Not just the Australian Ambassador, senior diplomats in various countries, parliamentarians and the Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs, have spoken to the Thai prime minister, as well as her counterpart, the Foreign Minister, the heads of international sporting bodies, both in Australia and the UK, protesting crowds in Australia and internationally, lots of media attention, Facebook!

All are calling for his immediate return to Australia.

Especially as Hakeem “fears being returned to Bahrain.”

Dual citizenship Australians, still held in Egypt, Vietnam and China will no doubt hope, similar pressure activity will be sought “to get citizens out of jail.”

winfredpeppinck@gmail.com