Australian Rallies Call for Thais to Free Bahraini Refugee

This undated photo shows demonstrators holding up banners calling for the release of Hakeem Al-Araibi. Photo: Wanmai Phanomvan / Facebook
This undated photo shows demonstrators holding up banners calling for the release of Hakeem Al-Araibi. Photo: Wanmai Phanomvan / Facebook

SYDNEY — Scores of demonstrators have rallied in Australia’s two largest cities to demand that Thailand release a detained Bahraini football player who has refugee status in Australia.

The demonstrations outside the Sydney Opera House and in Melbourne’s Federation Square on Friday opposed Hakeem al-Araibi’s potential extradition to Bahrain.

The rallies focused on Thailand and Indonesia’s proposed joint bid for Association of Southeast Asian Nations to host the World Cup in 2034.

The rallies also called for football’s international governing body, FIFA, to consider suspending Bahrain from future international competitions.

Al-Araibi had been living in Melbourne and played for a semi-professional football team there. The 25-year-old was detained upon his arrival in Bangkok in November. Thailand expects to decide within days whether to proceed with extradition to Bahrain.