A bride was enjoying the first day of her honeymoon. Until Thai authorities arrested her husband.

Your honeymoon is supposed to be one of the most blissfully happy times of your life.  You’ve found your person, you’ve made your vows and now all you need to do is relax with your significant other, preferably somewhere tropical.

But imagine you’ve planned a beautiful honeymoon overseas that you’ve been looking forward to for ages. You both decided on Thailand as the destination, excited to take in the wonders of the stunning beaches, and take trips to Phi Phi Island and the Buddhist Temples.

Now imagine you don’t make it as far as the honeymoon suite. Your new husband is arrested, taken away from you and detained.

So, you spend the first day of your honeymoon, not in paradise as planned, but in the hellish confines of a Thai prison.

This is something one woman doesn’t have to imagine.

It’s the terrifying reality for the wife of Australian refugee Hakeem al-Araibi, who is too scared to reveal her identity.

She lives in Melbourne with husband Hakeem, a pro-soccer player who was granted refugee status in Australia after he was tortured in his home country, Bahrain.

Now Bahrain is trying to extradite the soccer player for a crime he says he didn’t commit.

Bahrain charged Hakeem in absentia in 2014 to 10 years in prison for allegedly vandalising a police station. The conviction was based on the coerced confession of his brother, Emad Ali Mohamed al-Araibi, who said that they both committed the act.

However, Hakeem, a former Bahraini international player was actually playing a televised game of football around the same time of the alleged incident.


Hakeem and his new wife did everything they were supposed to do. They checked they were allowed to travel under the protection of the Australian government and they allowed themselves to get excited about the trip.

But when the newlyweds arrived in Thailand on 27 November, he was arrested because Interpol had approved Bahrain’s request for a red notice warrant.

Thailand has ordered an extended 60 days of detention for Hakeem so authorities can process Bahrain’s request.

But he should never have been arrested as a refugee of Australia.

Hakeem previously criticised Bahraini royal Sheikh Salman bin Ibrahim al-Khalifa, who stands accused of overseeing a committee that identified athletes involved in the 2011 Arab Spring who were later tortured.

He says it’s no coincidence authorities now want him locked up and fears he will be tortured if he is sent back to his home country.


Hakeem’s wife gave an interview about their plight to the Guardian:

“Please understand that my husband is a torture survivor,” she said.

“Few can know the anguish this brings. I am deeply concerned for him if he has to endure such torment again. After more than 50 days in detention I know his emotional condition is getting worse every day, and my heart is breaking for him.”

Speaking about her last meeting with Hakeem on 8 December, she said:

“This beautiful man, a champion athlete and the bravest person I know for speaking out against the oppression of his people, embarrassed for me, his wife, to see him in that shape. I cannot stop crying at the thought.”

Football organisation FIFA have now made a plea for his release.

And here in Australia, eminent sportspeople and organisations, including  Olympians and members of the NRL, have joined forces to petition Scott Morrison to personally demand his release.

You can sign the Amnesty International petition here.

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