The efforts to save Hakeem Al-Araibi received a lot of media attention over summer.
Hakeem is a soccer player, most recently playing for Pascoe Vale FC in Victoria’s NPL after he was granted refugee status by the Australian government in 2017.
He had fled Bahrain after being arrested and tortured for speaking out publicly against the persecution and torture of other footballers who had criticised the ruling monarchy.
In early December 2018, Hakeem traveled to Thailand with his wife for their honeymoon, but was arrested at the airport by Thai police after Bahrain authorities initiated an INTERPOL Red Notice.
There was no doubt that Hakeem would have been imprisoned and tortured if Thailand sent him back to Bahrain.
Hakeem is a unionist – a member of Professional Footballers Australia – and union members do not accept the mistreatment of anyone, especially one of our own.
Unionists rallied behind an extraordinary social media campaign led by high profile soccer legend Craig Foster, with thousands of workers signing and sharing a petition to #SaveHakeem.
The pressure built by this campaign led to the Bahrain Government withdrawing their extradition request, and Hakeem was released from prison in Thailand on February 11. He returned home to Melbourne, reuniting with his wife and community.
This successful campaign showed how every SDA member is part of a larger union movement. Just as the wider union movement might support us in raising wages in retail, fast food and warehousing, we support union members in other industries – including sports – who need our help.