The plight of Hakeem Al-Araibi has been followed by the Australian football community for months now.
The details are well known: Al-Araibi has been granted refugee status in Australia and is a permanent resident after fleeing Bahrain.
A member of Bahrain’s national team, he was granted refugee status by Australia in 2017.
He was charged in absentia for vandalising a police station despite vision of him playing in a televised football match at the same time as the alleged incident is available.
Since coming to Australia he has continued to play football, currently with Pascoe Vale in Victoria’s NPL.
He was arrested in Thailand in late November while on his honeymoon and has been detained in Bangkok ever since.
An Interpol red notice was issued but should have been disregarded since it was issued by the country Al-Araibi has fled. It has since been withdrawn.
It’s been almost two months since Al-Araibi was arrested. Supporters, namely Pascoe Vale and Craig Foster, have called for more to be done by the governments of Australia and Thailand, as well as FIFA and AFC.
The continental silence isn’t surprising considering the current AFC president is also the former Bahrain FA president Sheikh Salman Bin Ibrahim Al-Khalifa.
More needs to be done by Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison and FIFA President Gianni Infantino.
The power these men hold to create a positive outcome from Al-Araibi cannot be understated.
The longer this horrific saga continues the easier it is for Al-Araibi to lose hope. And who could blame him?
Craig Foster’s work in this space has been utterly sensational but he is only one man. Here are some ways you can help bring Hakeem home:
Sign the amnesty international petition: https://action.amnesty.org.au/act-now/savehakeem-tell-thailand-to-release-refugee-footballer
Sign the change.org petition: https://www.change.org/p/marise-payne-save-hakeem