Monarchy, Bahrain and a refugee

7 05 2019

Paul Sanderson at The Sydney Morning Herald has a long article on coronation. But it is not the shallow accounts that mark discussion of the monarchy mainly because Sanderson has a unique hook for the story:an account of why “refugee and footballer Hakeem al-Araibi was imprisoned for more than two months on a Bahraini Interpol red notice that should never have been issued…”.

From The Guardian

We won’t recount the quite useful discussion of the rise to power of the current king, but will briefly deal with the al-Araibi story as it interweaves with the death of Vajiralongkorn’s father in October 2016. Vajiralongkorn didn’t take the throne for about six weeks, although that is not what the “record of reign” now says.

Sanderson states:

Stories of what happened in the weeks and months that followed Bhumibol’s death are only now emerging, whispered quietly by government officials and senior diplomats who fear that speaking openly will transgress the world’s strictest lese-majeste laws.

He says “what they say could provide at least a partial explanation” of al-Araibi detention and asks: “Was it related to the new Thai king’s endeavours to consolidate his political and financial power?”

Regular readers may recall that monarchy was mentioned in our first post on al-Araibi’s detention, although there was no information on exactly what was going on at the time that gave special focus to this unfortunate man’s detention.

Sanderson is more specific, asking “what role did a $1.6 billion commercial deal between the royal houses of Bahrain and Thailand play?”

Noting Vajiralongkorn’s various grasping land property deals in Thailand, Sanderson observes that it was when “the old king was in a coma, that his heir negotiated a deal with the royal family of Bahrain that would earn him nearly $1.6 billion.” The deal saw “Thailand’s Crown Property Bureau sold a 60 per cent stake in the Kempinski Hotels Group for €1 billion to the Bahraini royal family.”

PPT earlier posted on the opaque deals that gave Kempinski to the CPB.

As Wikipedia has it, “Effective 16 February 2017, the two existing shareholders of Kempinski AG formalized previous plans for an equity transfer between them. The majority shares of Kempinski AG shall be held by the existing Bahraini shareholder while the shareholder from Thailand will now own a minority.”

This deal was more than a year before the footballer was snared at Bangkok’s main airport, but the business dealing between the two royal houses remains and Vajiralongkorn’s purse was swelled substantially by the deal.

This may help explain al-Araibi’s 76-day detention. As Sanderson states, “one of the biggest mysteries was why the south-east Asian kingdom persisted with the case to refoul him long after a wrongly issued Interpol red notice was revoked.”

Obviously, the Bahrain monarchy wanted him. But what was Thailand doing?

Thailand’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs only spoke in code. The country, it said, “finds itself in the middle of a case involving two countries competing for Mr Hakeem’s custody”. The ministry repeatedly stressed the case could not be dropped once it had started.

Thai Immigration Police chief Surachate Hakparn was a little clearer. He said the order to keep Araibi in detention came from “above”. He has since been removed from his post. Rumours abound that he offended the king in another matter.

Academic Pavin Chachavalpongpun, a former diplomat, puts it this way:

It’s not just about feeling Thailand owes Bahrain…. This is beyond skin deep because it’s between two royal families. The Thai king is in the process of wanting to be respected by other royal families. Being a diplomat in Thailand, the number one priority is not about maintaining good relationships. The number one priority is about making sure you serve the royal family…. This royal family travels. Fifty per cent of our operation [in the Foreign Ministry] is about the monarchy, we have to serve the monarchy before anything else.

Kempinski remains a private company and little public information is available. However, published data continues to list two Thai members of its supervisory board are from royal agencies.

Other relations between royals in each country are topics of speculation. It is stated that “a senior Bahraini royal was in Thailand in the days after Araibi’s arrest.” It remains unclear how the relationships between countries and between royal houses has been impacted by al-Araibi’s case.

Updated: On not doing the human thing

20 02 2019

This is likely our last PPT post on the Hakeem al-Araibi case. Our last post was about failures on the Thai side.

Until now, we had not seen an admission of fault by the Australian side for its role in passing on information to the Thai authorities based on an Interpol Red Notice that should never have been issued and that should have been trumped by the Australian government’s acceptance of Hakeem as a refugee.

Fronting parliament – that would be an innovation in Thailand – Australian Border Force officials have had to admit “human error” in the Hakeem case, “saying processes that might have prevented him from being detained in Thailand ‘broke down’.”

But as seems all too common in security agencies with bloated power, Commissioner Michael Outram seemed to refuse to accept full responsibility.

Hakeem spent “spent two months in a Bangkok prison after having an Interpol red notice issued against him, despite being recognised as a refugee,” but the commissioner backed away from taking responsibility: “Asked if he would like to apologise to Mr al-Araibi, Mr Outram said he could not say whether the mistake directly led to his detention.” He went on:

But to offer an apology for him that would say that I’m accepting that the outcome, what happened in Thailand, was entirely due to that error. I can’t say that without speculating.

Such disingenuous is a feature of belligerent security agencies, as is well known in Thailand.

Outram told the Senate hearing that “ABF staff regularly received red notice information from the AFP [Australian Federal Police] which they then needed to cross-check against other government information, a process which could take 14 days.”

It remains unclear why more care was not taken in reporting Hakeem to the Thai authorities. “Human error,” perhaps, but undue haste as well. Why?

Have heads rolled? No. Impunity  is not just a Thai phenomenon. In the West it is made worse by ridiculous managerial-speak.

The best Commissioner Outram could do was apologize that “an error occurred within Border Force and that is something that we’re taking very seriously…”. But they are not taking Hakeem’s personal distress very seriously. Can he take legal action?

Managerial-speak went berserk when “secretary of the Department of Home Affairs, Mike Pezzullo, told the hearing his department was looking at ways of using ‘sophisticated algorithms and data matching’ to automate the process.” He buried it all with this nonsensical prose:

But to accelerate that program would mean that other programs potentially are not funded equally, to an equal level of priority and it’s a question of then managing those priorities…,

Just saying sorry to Hakeem would have been a human thing to do.

Update: It is good to see that that Amnesty International Australia “has called for the Australian government to conduct an independent investigation into what it called ‘a monumental mistake’ that led to the much-publicised arrest and detention” of Hakeem in Thailand. Amnesty’s Tim O’Connor declared:

It is absolutely unacceptable that Hakeem, a completely innocent man supposedly under the Australian government’s care, was detained for 76 days in Thailand in fear for his life simply because someone at Border Force forgot to send an email….

No refugee is safe

18 02 2019

What is a refugee? Wikipedia helps:

To receive refugee status, a person must have applied for asylum, making them—while waiting for a decision—an asylum seeker. However, a displaced person otherwise legally entitled to refugee status may never apply for asylum, or may not be allowed to apply in the country they fled to and thus may not have official asylum seeker status.

Once a displaced person is granted refugee status they enjoy certain rights as agreed in the 1951 Refugee convention. Not all countries have signed and ratified this convention and some countries do not have a legal procedure for dealing with asylum seekers.

Thailand has never become a party to that 1951 convention. In essence, that means that no refugee is safe in Thailand.

We make this observation in the context of a Bangkok Post report of an interview with Chatchom Akapin, director-general of the Office of the Attorney General’s International Affairs Department.

Chatchom seeks to explain the debacle over the case of Hakeem al Araibi, who was granted refugee status by Australia but was arrested in Thailand and faced deportation to Bahrain.

The Post and Chatchom paint Thailand as being “caught” between Bahrain and Australia. This is may be true, but it ignores the fact that Thailand did not need to respond to Bahrain’s extradition request or to the quickly withdrawn Interpol red notice. The case was entirely Thailand’s responsibility as it held the footballer.

Chatchom shows how decidedly dull Thai officials can be and how they are reluctant to “impose” on their higher-ups. He states:

Bahrain asked to have Hakeem extradited to face prosecution by showing evidence he committed the wrongdoing and had been convicted by the court…. We considered this fell into the criteria where we could assist in line with legal principles so we filed the case with the court….

On the Australian government’s granting refugee status, Chatcom declares: “We considered that this point was irrelevant as the wrongdoing had been committed before he was granted the refugee status in Australia…”.

This makes clear that no refugee is safe in Thailand. Refugee status counts for nothing (except where other political, monarchical or military considerations are considered). Refugee status can be used for or against an individual, as seen in the two cases last month.

Good news

11 02 2019

Refugee footballer Hakeem al-Araibi has been released. Bahrain withdrew its extradition request.

Chatchom Akapin, the director-general of the Attorney General’s International Affairs Department, said his office was informed that Bahrain “wanted to withdraw the extradition request.” His office “resolved in a meeting that it would not proceed with the trial against al-Araibi.”

Deliberate misunderstandings

8 02 2019

PPT has posted a couple of times mentioning dissembling by Foreign Minister Don Pramudwinai and head of immigration Pol Lt Gen Surachate Hakparn, known by his nickname as “Big Joke” on the Hakeem al-Araibi.

We now consider that their dissembling has become so determined that they are trying to deliberately mislead. For example, Big Joke is quoted in newspapers saying

he met Paul Robilliard, the Australian ambassador to Thailand on Wednesday and informed the latter about the fact that the requested extradition of Araibi to Bahrain is being considered in court.

According to Pol Lt Gen Surachate, Mr Robilliard had admitted to him that Australia did notify Thai immigration authorities about the Interpol “red notice” against Araibi, which led to his arrest.

The ambassador was very uncomfortable with the Araibi situation and he is therefore pressuring the Thai government to send Araibi back to Australia where he is recognised as a refugee, said Pol Lt Gen Surachate.

There’s so much wrong with this statement that it can only be Big Joke’s invention. According to information publicly available, Australian Ambassador to Thailand, Paul Robilliard, finished his posting in Thailand on 29 November 2018.

Here’s what the Australian Embassy officially says on this matter:

Due to misreporting on the matter, the Australian Government would like to clear up confusion regarding the Interpol Red Notice issued against Hakeem Alaraibi.

Australia never issued a red notice against Mr Alaraibi.

This red notice was issued by Bahrain on 8 November 2018, shortly before Mr Alaraibi travelled to Bangkok.

The red notice should never have been issued because of Mr Alaraibi’s status as a protected refugee. This was a breach of Interpol’s regulations.

The Australian Government was not initially aware of this, and in line with Interpol procedure notified Thailand of Mr Alaraibi’s travel.

When the Australian Government became aware of the situation, we ensured the red notice was rescinded as soon as possible. This happened on 30 November, only three days after Mr Alaraibi arrived in Bangkok.

Australia is reviewing our procedures so that this does not happen again.

The Australian Government has said unequivocally on many occasions that Hakeem Alaraibi should be returned to Australia, where he is a permanent resident with protected status, as soon as possible.

None of this is new information, and has been widely known and reported. Australian Ambassador-designate Allan McKinnon also said:

The Government of Bahrain knew very well that Hakeem al-Araibi lived in Australia since 2014. During these four years, the Bahraini Government did not attempt to ask Australia about Hakeem at all or to request to send him back to Bahrain

However, as soon as Hakeem and his wife travelled to Thailand for their honeymoon, the Government of Bahrain expedited its coordination with the Thai Government to have Hakeem arrested and commence extradition proceedings immediately.

The actions of the Bahraini Government have put Thailand in a very difficult position.

In particular, during what is an important year for the people and country of Thailand.

I reiterate once again that the Government of Australia would like Hakeem al-Araibi to be returned to Australia as soon as possible. He is a refugee and permanent resident of Australia.

Thai officials are deliberately creating misunderstandings to muddy the waters on this issue. Clearly, it is within Thailand’s jurisdiction to simply return Hakeem to Australia.

With 3 updates: Regime fails

5 02 2019

In the last few days there have been several events and announcements that point to failures by the military junta. They are among many regime failures since 2014.

First, the regime has failed on corruption. Of course, it came to power, like several past military regimes, to end corruption. As in the past, as now, this has not meant corruption by the military and regime itself.

Second, now shackling and dressing him in prison garb, the regime has failed to end the detention of Hakeem al-Araibi. A recognized refugee, for still unexplained reasons, Thailand is pandering to the monarchy in Bahrain in dealing with Hakeem. He would be a political prisoner in Bahrain, and that’s why he is a designated refugee. Thailand’s regime has failed to comply with international law. He’s now detailed for another few months in a Thai jail when he should be living freely in Australia.

Third, on political prisoners, activist and lese majeste detainee Jatupat Boonpattararaksa has had two charges of illegal assembly dropped by a military court. Similar charges against six other activists were also dropped. The court had no option as these charges became unenforceable several weeks ago. However, others continue to languish in prison on lese majeste and political assembly charges. The justice system under the junta has failed.

Update 1: The Hakeem al-Araibi case has become so bizarre for the regime that it is coming up with completely ridiculous stories to justify its inability to behave according to international norms and law.

First, there’s Thailand’s head of immigration Pol Lt Gen Surachate Hakparn, known by his real nickname, “Big Joke.” He’s dissembled on how Hakeem’s case is different from that of Rahaf Mohamed. It is, but his explanation is ridiculously daft. He says Hakeem’s case is different “because Hakeem had an arrest warrant out for him… [and] Hakeem was the subject of an extradition request…”. Of course, under international law, neither is legitimate. In other words, Thailand’s junta and its officials are acting for Bahrain, but not saying why they are doing this. Our guess is that they cannot say because the explanation leads to the king’s palace.

Second, the “Australian government … urged Thailand to exercise its legal discretion to free a refugee football player who lives and plays in Australia and told a Bangkok court that he refuses to be voluntarily extradited to Bahrain.” Ridiculously and breaching international law, Thai foreign minister, Don Pramudwinai, again stated that “Australia and Bahrain should resolve the issue in discussions between themselves…”. Minister Don seems to ignore the fact that it is Thailand that arrested Hakeem and now holds him. It is Thailand’s responsibility to make a correct and legal decision.

Such a ludicrous statement by a minister would be inexplicable for any normal administration. It is unbelievable that the Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne has to point out that “Thailand’s office of the Attorney-General has publicly confirmed that Thailand’s Extradition Act allows for executive discretion in such cases. This was also confirmed by the prosecutor in the context of yesterday’s hearing…”.

Dressing and shackling Hakeem is a part of the junta’s effort to portray him as a criminal rather than a refugee. How much deeper can this regime dig itself into a royalist quagmire?

Update 2: And it gets worse for the junta. Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison has said “he was ‘disturbed’ to see Araibi with shackles on his feet when he arrived at the Criminal Court on Monday.” Talking on national television, he added: “I thought that was very upsetting and I know it would have upset many Australians, and I respectfully reminded the Thai prime minister that Australians feel very strongly about this…”.

Update 3: A potential football boycott of Thailand has begun:

Football Federation Australia announced Wednesday it had scrapped the game against China, a scheduled warmup ahead of next month’s qualifiers for the Asian under-23 championships.

Monarchies, a refugee and erasing human rights II

29 01 2019

Thailand is coming under further international pressure on the case of footballer Hakeem al-Araibi, an accredited refugee in Australia, arrested and jailed in Thailand and threatened with extradition to the country he fled, Bahrain.

An Australian newspaper reports that Prime Minister Scott Morrison has written to The Dictator “emphasising the [Hakeem’s] case was a matter of importance to him personally, as well as the Australian government and the Australian people.”

Meanwhile, the Bangkok Post reports that the Asian Football Confederation has also appealed for Hakeem’s return to Australia, with Vice President Praful Patel writing:

I hereby respectfully request Your Excellency [he means Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha] to take the necessary steps to ensure that Mr AI Araibi is returned safely to Australia, where he has been granted refugee status, at the earliest possible opportunity….

In a truly remarkable move, Thailand’s dictatorship has tried to make Hakeem’s arrest and detention in Thailand a matter for Australia and Bahrain. Minister of Foreign Affairs Don Pramudwinai stated “What I see as the most proper way is Australia and Bahrain should initiate dialogue [about it].”

What kind of foreign minister abrogates responsibility in such a hopeless, negligent and seemingly spineless manner? Arguably, his “suggestion” is in breach of international law and obligations.

Or is it that this case requires monarchy to monarchy decision-making? Social media has been pointed in discussing the differences between Hakeem, considered a political agitator and opposed to Bahrain’s monarchy, and the case of Rahaf Mohammed al-Qunun, who was quickly processed and moved on from Bangkok. Of course, monarchy-monarchy relations with Saudi Arabia have long been poor.

Updated: Monarchies, a refugee and erasing human rights I

29 01 2019

Yesterday we posted on the rising reach and power of the monarch. We can’t help wondering if we shouldn’t have also mentioned the sad case of former Bahraini footballer and refugee Hakeem al-Araibi.

His case has been the subject of considerable agitation in Australia, which had granted him refugee status. Of course, it was also the dullards at the Australian Federal Police, under the thumb of extreme right-wing Minister for Home Affairs Peter Dutton, who informed counterparts in Thailand of Hakeem’s approved trip to Thailand for his honeymoon, despite an invalid Interpol red notice.

It is now more than two months since Hakeem was detained in Bangkok.

A photo from The Guardian

There’s been considerable pressure on the military dictatorship to return Hakeem to Australia. Most recently:

Craig Foster, former captain of the Australian national football team and human rights activist, called for Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha to respect Australia’s sovereignty and allow Hakeem to return to Australia, since he has already been given asylum by the Australian government. Foster noted that, currently, there is an international campaign calling for Hakeem’s release, since this is not a lawsuit, but is a case of refoulement, which violates international law and the UN Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (UNCAT), to which Thailand is a state party. Foster also called for FIFA and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to seek possible measures to boycott the Football Association of Thailand and Bahrain and to ban them from taking part in international competitions, since Hakeem is a refugee who is being held in prison unlawfully and unnecessarily. And if the Bahraini government asks for Hakeem to be returned to Bahrain, Foster called for FIFA to take part as an independent observer in all meetings related to Hakeem’s case.

Recently, FIFA:

… issued a letter to Gen Prayut, Thai Minister of Foreign Affairs Don Pramudwinai, and Thai Minister for Tourism and Sports Weerasak Kowsurat, expressing their concern about Hakeem’s detention and possible extradition. FIFA called on Thailand to allow Hakeem to return to Australia.

FIFA also called for a meeting with Thai authorities.

Meanwhile, Nantana Sivakua, Thailand’s Ambassador to Australia, responded to Australian media saying: “there is an Interpol red notice against Hakeem, and the case needs to be processed according to extradition laws.”

Thailand has previously stated that extradition formalities would continue through until about mid-February.

The claims by the Ambassador were contradicted by Phil Robertson, Deputy Director of Human Rights Watch’s Asia Division, observed that:

the Interpol red notice has been lifted since Hakeem is a recognised refugee. Robertson also said that if a country that respects international law knew of Hakeem’s refugee status, he would be sent back to Australia. Torture is normal in Bahraini prisons, and extraditing Hakeem under a charge from a Bahraini court would be a violation of the UN Convention against Torture.

As far as we know, there is no extradition treaty between Thailand and Bahrain. In international law a state has no “obligation to surrender an alleged criminal to a foreign state, because one principle of sovereignty is that every state has legal authority over the people within its borders.” Most civilized states do not surrender those accused of political crimes.

It seems that it is only in recent days that Bahrain has “submitted documents for the extradition of Hakeem…”. The Bahrain government issued a statement that “confirmed it has submitted the formal extradition request.”

Remarkably, then, it seems that Thailand has detained Hakeem for two months without a red notice and without a formal extradition request. Or, as the Bangkok Post reports it, there was a “legally invalid Interpol Red Notice.”

HRW’s Robertson made another comment that brings this post back to its top line. He “called into question the circumstances of Hakeem’s arrest. He suspects that this is a political game between Thailand and Bahrain…”.

In our first post on Hakeem’s case, PPT noted that the reasons for Thailand’s strange actions on the case are: first, Bahrain, like Thailand, is a monarchy, one just a little more absolute than the rest; second, both Bahrain and Thailand are holding rigged elections, and both have been chummy since the 2014 coup; and third, Thailand maintains a fiction of not really recognizing refugees and has a sorry recent history of allowing other repressive regimes to pick up refugees in and from Thailand.

It seems to us that the case can only be understood if one focuses on the strong links between the palaces in both countries.

Update: Thai PBS reports that the “International Olympic Committee has joined FIFA and other supporters of former Bahraini national footballer Hakeem Al-Araibi in demanding the Thai government to free him from detention and allow him to return to Australia.” It is added that “Thailand’s IOC member, Khunying Patama Leeswadtrakul, had asked the Thai government ‘to find a solution based on basic human and humanitarian values’,” and that “IOC president Thomas Bach had personally discussed the situation with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Mr Filippo Grandi.” For the purported love of monarchy, Thailand is risking more international disdain.

An update on Hakeem al-Araibi’s detention

23 12 2018

Football figures have joined with human rights groups in calling on “FIFA and the Australian government to intervene to stop a Melbourne-based refugee and semi-professional soccer player being extradited from Thailand to Bahrain.”

Hakeem al-Araibi, who has refugee status in Australia, is being detained in Thailand. Despite the facts that he is a refugee and that Thailand has no extradition treaty with Bahrain, the extradition process continues under opaque Thai law.

In Melbourne, “former Australia captain Craig Foster and Amnesty International Australia lawyer Diana Sayed called on Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne, plus FIFA and the Asian Football Confederation, to stop Thailand extraditing al-Araibi.”

Foster spoke for Professional Footballers Australia, the player’s representative body:

Australia’s footballers implore FIFA and the AFC to comply with their own rules of governance to demand the return of Hakeem to Australia…. FIFA and the AFC have a constitutional obligation to not only observe the human rights of their participants but proactively promote such rights.

Sayed called for the Australian government to pressure the Thai military junta. Unaccountably, Australia’s Home Affairs Ministry reported al-Araibi’s holiday in Thailand, despite allowing him to travel and his refugee status. This ministry is run by rightists and has a poor reputation on everything to do with refugees.

FIFA has previously urged that al-Araibi be returned to Australia. Australia’s Foreign Minister has also called for al-Araibi to be released and returned to Australia.

Lawyer Sayed stated:

We know the history of human rights violations in Bahrain and so it makes Hakeem’s case and current detention in Thailand even more important for the international community, and for (the) Australian football federation and others to stand behind him at his time because there is a very real risk that he could be extradited back to Bahrain.

It seems footballers and human rights activists have no faith that Thailand’s royalist government will do anything sensible. Why Thailand is supporting Bahrain is only a mystery if one forgets that there are strong links between the palaces in both countries.

Updated: Dissembling for Bahrain

12 12 2018

Late yesterday the Bangkok Post reported that the Criminal Court “approved the detention of a Bahraini footballer with refugee status in Australia for another 60 days, as Bahrain seeks his extradition.”

The Criminal Court allowed the Immigration police “a further 60 days to allow procedures for his extradition.”

The report adds that “[l]ast Friday, the Attorney-General’s Office submitted the AlAraibi extradition case to the Criminal Court on behalf of Bahrain, because there is an outstanding arrest warrant for him in the Arab Gulf state.”

A photo from The Guardian

And then it says. “… AlAraibi was stopped by immigration police on Nov 27 after arriving in Bangkok from Australia for a vacation with his wife, following a request from Bahrain,” while noting that “Thailand has no formal extradition agreement with Bahrain.”

All of this sounded a bit contrived for PPT, so we looked a bit more for some details. It turns out that the regime in Bangkok is dissembling.

A report by Australia’s ABC News has these details:

“[The court] says the [Thai] Government is still waiting for the official extradition request, so during that process they cannot grant bail,” said Nadthasiri Berkman, one of the lawyers working on his case.

This contradicts a statement released by the Thai Government on Saturday.

That statement is reproduced in part:

“The detention was carried out in response to the red notice alert received from the Interpol National Central Bureau of Australia and the formal request from the Bahraini Government for his arrest and extradition,” said the Thai Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in a statement that repeatedly misspelled Mr AlAraibi’s name as “Oraibi”….

It seems very clear that the military regime is acting for Bahrain. Indeed, it is dissembling for that country’s monarchy.

As well as spelling errors, the idea that a red notice came from Australia is unlikely and appears to contradict the NCB’s role. That’s not to say that an error might have occurred in Australia, but it was Australia that provided his refugee status and presumably scrutinized his travel documents and permitted him to leave Australia. In this context, the report states:

… His lawyer was at a loss to explain how the Interpol red notice might have come from Australia, when significant diplomatic resources are being mobilised to advocate for his safe return.

“I don’t understand that either … it’s contradicting information,” said Ms Berkman….

Interpol has a policy of not issuing red notices — effectively international arrest warrants — in the case of refugees, and withdrew the notice for Mr AlAraibi on December 3.

The ABC report has more:

Another lawyer working on the case — Somchai Homlaor — said the way Mr AlAraibi was detained suggested the Thai Government had acted because of diplomatic pressure, rather than international law.

Somchai stated: “This is a political case…”. We think it is more than a political case, involving friendly monarchies.

Update: It turns out that the Australians did tell Thailand that al-Araibi was visiting. The Sydney Morning Herald refers to this as “outrageous.” It seems that Australia’s “Department of Home Affairs [has now] attempted to distance itself from Araibi’s detention. The Department:

confirmed the Interpol National Central Bureau in Australia had “advised Thai authorities in relation to the scheduled arrival of a person who was the subject of an Interpol Red Notice”.

“The Interpol Red Notice was not put in place by Australia; the existence of the Interpol Red Notice would have come to the attention of Thai authorities when the person attempted to enter Thailand. Any action taken in response to the Interpol Red Notice is a matter for Thai authorities.”

This Department is headed by Australia’s most right-wing ministers who recently described parliament as an obstacle and disadvantage for government. PPT assumes that he would find kindred spirits in Thailandl’s military junta. In the past few days, a Greens Party senator in Australia, Jordon Steele-John, attacked the Department of Home Affairs secretary, describing him as:

a man of a dangerous right-wing disposition who has successfully created a department in his image and who now stands on the cusp of achieving a lifelong goal of empowering the Australian government with the ability to keep the general populace, who he regards as nothing more or less than helpless sheep, safe and sound….

While we don’t know much about Australia’s politics, but we get a picture of authoritarians working with authoritarians.

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