Joint Australians of the Year, Dr Richard Harrison and Craig Challen, have written to the Thai Prime Minister, Prayut Chan-o-cha, urging him to intervene in the case of Hakeem Al-Araibi who is detained in a Bangkok jail, ABC Radio reported on its national affairs program, AM on Saturday morning. 

Harrison and Challen were named Australians of the Year due to their heroic cave-diving efforts as part of the team to save 12 Thai children and their soccer coach trapped in a flooded cave in July last year. 

The news comes the day after Al-Araibi's parents also issued a plea to Prime Minister Chan-o-cha writing: 

“As if the pain and bitterness of separation, the longing, worries and fears over the fate of our children who are abroad are not enough, we find ourselves faced with the arrest of our child by governments of countries that are supposed to respect human rights. The fact that our son Hakeem has spent more than two months in Thai prisons being treated unjustly, including being transported to court shackled and barefoot, is a crime committed by the government of Thailand against human rights.”

The spotlight has been turned on Thailand since the tit-for-tat media statements from the respective foreign departments of Thailand and Australia regarding the pathology of events that led to Al-Araibi's detention. 

Contrary to Thailand's statement, it is now apparent that Bahrain issued the Red Notice against Al-Araibi just days after he provided travel details and documents with the Thai consulate in Melbourne in early November. Australia's error was in alerting Thai authorities to Al-Araibi's travel on the day of travel, in contravention of his rights as a refugee with permanent residency in Australia and under protected status. Al-Araibi travelled to Thailand on 27 November and has been in detention since that time. 

To date, the Thai government has seemed completely impervious to Australia's arguments in favour of Al-Araibi's release, and has essentially ignored the requests of Australian Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, and Foreign Minister, Marise Payne. 

The letter from Harrison and Challen will put more pressure on Prime Minister Chan-o-cha, particularly from the Thai public who have made the point on social media that Australians helped save their soccer players, so Thailand should help save one Australian soccer player. 

Categories: News | Local

hakeem al-araibi, #savehakeem, richard harrison, craig challen, australians of the year 2019

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