BANGKOK – A campaign to stop Thailand from extraditing Hakeem al-Araibi to Bahrain, a detained soccer player who has refugee status in Australia has gotten a personal touch, with a letter from the jailed man’s wife delivered to the Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha.
Nadthasiri Bergman, the lawyer for Hakeem al-Araibi, handed over the letter Wednesday at Government House, imploring Gen Prayut to free her client because of his probable persecution in Bahrain, where he was convicted in absentia of arson of a police station, a charge he denies.
Ms Nadthasiri also tweeted a “message from Hakeem” saying, “It breaks my heart not to know when I will get to see her or hear her voice again. Please fight for me.”
The photo in the tweet was taken in late November and shows the last time the detained Araibi saw his wife, on the day he was removed to the remand prison.
Araibi used to play for the Bahraini national team and now plays for a semi-professional soccer club in Australia. He has received strong support from sporting groups there.
The letter from his wife, whose name was withheld for privacy reasons, said she is “anxiously waiting for a glimpse of hope to have my husband return home” to Australia.
Araibi was detained upon his arrival in Bangkok in late November for a honeymoon with his wife. He has been held at the Bangkok Remand Prison for extradition hearings for two months.
“For 7 years, not a day went by that I did not hear my wife’s voice. Now I’m in jail for a crime I didn’t commit. She is out there. Alone. It breaks my heart not to know when I will get to see her or hear her voice again. Please fight for me.” A message from Hakeem. #SaveHakeeem pic.twitter.com/uhYkGdiqnC
— Nadthasiri Bergman (@Nat_Bergman) January 29, 2019
“My husband and I had travelled to Thailand because we thought it would be the perfect country to have our honeymoon in,” his wife wrote to Gen Prayut.
“We travelled together, excited to arrive in Thailand, only to be met with imprisonment, and the threat for my husband to be sent back to Bahrain where his life will be in danger.”
Araibi has said he was blindfolded and had his legs beaten while he was held in Bahrain in 2012.
He said he believed he is targeted for extradition and arrest because of his Shia faith and because his brother was politically active. Bahrain has a Shia majority but is ruled by a Sunni monarchy, and has a reputation for harsh repression since the failed “Arab Spring” uprising in 2011.
“I am frightened for my husband’s life and our future. His future lies in your hands,” his wife wrote. “Please help my husband come home.”