Refugee footballer Hakeem al-Araibi freed

photo: Tweeter

The ITUC has welcomed the release of refugee footballer Hakeem al-Araibi from prison in Thailand and his return to his place of asylum, Australia.

His release followed an unprecedented campaign led by sports players, their unions and the ITUC Australian affiliate ACTU, with governments, global unions, human rights groups and international sports federations FIFA and the IOC all calling for his release. Hakeem was detained at Bangkok Airport when Bahrain, which has close ties with Thailand, demanded he be sent back there to serve a ten-year prison term for a crime he did not commit.

“We are relieved for Hakeem and his wife that he has returned to his new home Australia after the ordeal of more than 70 days in a Thai prison. Thailand finally let him go under intense international pressure, yet Bahrain is still publicly threatening him.

While he is now free, the fact is that Bahrain, which has an appalling record of human rights violations, still holds high positions in the world of sport including FIFA and the Asia Football Confederation and is a host of Formula 1 races. It is unacceptable that a regime such as this can retain powerful influence in international sport, and severely undermines the efforts that are being made to drive human rights violations out of the world of sport,” said ITUC General Secretary Sharan Burrow.

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