Home / World News / ‘A victory!’: Jubilation as freed footballer returns to Australia | Thailand News

‘A victory!’: Jubilation as freed footballer returns to Australia | Thailand News

Melbourne, Australia – Friends, circle of relatives and campaigners are celebrating Hakeem al-Araibi’s go back house to the Australian town of Melbourne after Thailand freed the refugee footballer who have been held since November on an extradition request from Bahrain.

After his flight touched down at Melbourne Airport on Tuesday afternoon, al-Araibi used to be met through loads of supporters, together with contributors of his soccer membership Pascoe Vale and the Bahraini group in Australia.

Some sang “You’ll Never Walk Alone” as they waited.

“I want to thank to Australia. Amazing to see all the Australian people, the media that supported me,” the 25-year-old instructed newshounds on the airport.

“I will be more strong for this country,” he stated. “Australia is my country.”

His go back marks the end result of a global marketing campaign through outstanding footballers, human rights teams and the Australian govt to halt his extradition to Bahrain, the place he feared he could be tortured.

“It is not possible to thank everyone involved because this campaign was not about one, or two or a handful, it was about hundreds of thousands of people and organisations of conscience worldwide who decided that goodness and compassion would trump evil,” Craig Foster, who as soon as performed soccer for Australia and is now the face of the #SaveHakeem marketing campaign, in a commentary.

“We fought for one soul because Hakeem represented everyone who suffers under tyranny and, through him, we hope to build a better world,” Foster added.



Sydney FC lovers appearing their give a boost to for Hakeem al-Araibi all over a fit in January [Mark Nolan/Getty Images]

‘A victory’

Yassin, a detailed pal of al-Araibi’s within the Bahraini-Australian group who prefers no longer to expose his identify for concern of repercussions in Bahrain, stated he used to be extremely joyful that the footballer, whom he considers an “older brother, have been launched.

“It’s a victory for us,” he instructed Al Jazeera. “This is the best news I’ve heard so far.”

Yassin recalled a dialog the 2 had had whilst his pal used to be detained and dealing with the specter of years at the back of bars.

“He was a bit happy [in the sense] that he showed the world the cruel reality of this government,” Yassin added, quoting Hakeem: “I might have sparked something that will trigger a change.”

Al-Araibi, who fled Bahrain in 2014 and have been recognised as a refugee in Australia, used to be arrested through Thai government in November when he arrived within the nation for his honeymoon, on the request of the Gulf state. He have been discovered accountable of vandalism in his absence and given a 10-year jail time period regardless of the truth he have been enjoying a soccer fit on the time of the alleged crime.

“I’m so excited, so happy. We are all speechless,” Fatima Yazbek, a spokeswoman for the Australia-based Gulf Institute for Democracy and Human Rights. “It’s incredible to see Hakeem released and free after all the struggle.”

Yazbek thanked all those that had taken section within the marketing campaign to loose the footballer, together with Australia’s Foreign Minister Marise Payne. “She was working very hard for him,” she stated.

Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison took to Twitter to “thank all Australians for their support”.

“We are grateful to the Thai government and thank them for the way they have engaged with us to enable Hakeem to return to Australia. We have also appreciated the constructive dialogue we’ve had with Bahrain to resolve this,” he wrote, echoing identical statements through different state officers.



Hakeem al-Araibi at the box for Pascoe Vale, a semi-professional crew in Australia’s second-biggest town. [Mark Avellino Photography/Al Jazeera]

‘Guilty verdict’

Amid the jubilation at Hakeem’s freedom, Bahrain insisted that it stood through the verdict of its personal court docket in al-Araibi’s case.

“The guilty verdict against Mr. Al Araibi remains in place,” Bahrain’s overseas ministry stated in a commentary. “The Kingdom of Bahrain reaffirms its right to pursue all necessary legal actions.”

Al-Araibi used to be as soon as a member of Bahrain’s nationwide soccer crew however used to be jailed in November 2012 when he says he used to be subjected to torture. After he had fled to Australia, al-Araibi used to be placed on trial in his absence and located accountable of attacking a police station in a case Amnesty described as unfair. His brother is lately in jail having been discovered accountable of the similar rate.

“This was a baseless and cynical extradition request from the Bahraini authorities, who wanted to punish Hakeem for his peaceful political views,” Minar Pimple, Amnesty International’s senior director of worldwide operations, stated in a commentary. “Hakeem spent more than two months behind bars in Thailand when he should not have been detained for a single second.”

FIFA, soccer’s governing frame, stated it used to be “extremely pleased” with the verdict to permit al-Araibi to go back house, and to the “relevant public authorities for doing the right thing and bringing Hakeem’s ordeal to an end”.

Australian soccer stated it used to be getting ready to welcome al-Araibi house.

Pascoe Vale FC has already registered al-Araibi to play within the 2019 season and his buddies are planning to rejoice his go back. “I can’t wait to take him to the Twelve Apostles,” Yassin stated, referring to one in every of Australia’s most famed herbal wonders.

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