Re: “‘Don’t send me to Bahrain,’ refugee footballer pleads”, Front page, February 5.
I don’t think the Thai government realises what a bad image it is getting over the detention of the Bahraini footballer. This is really bad publicity for Thailand. The film clips being broadcast over international TV show Hakeem al-Araibi in prison garb, handcuffs, and shackles, pleading with his captors not to send him back to Bahrain, where he fears being killed, and probably tortured beforehand. This makes Thailand look like a brutal and unfeeling police state. Even if some observers might consider Thailand in its current mode to be a police state, it doesn’t have to be a brutal and unfeeling one.
Earlier the government earned praise by allowing the little Saudi girl, Rahaf al-Qunun, to seek sanctuary in Canada. It should now repeat this act of mercy by quickly dispatching al-Araibi to safe refuge in Australia. It’s the right thing to do, and will earn Thailand great praise. Already there are mutterings about a worldwide tourist boycott.
Why the delay? Send him to Australia.