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Final Letter To PM Morrison From Australian Athletes

Letter

Thursday 24 January, 2019 The Hon Scott Morrison MP Prime Minister of Australia Parliament House CANBERRA ACT 2600

Dear Prime Minister,

We write to raise the urgent case of Mr Hakeem Al-Araibi, and ask for your support in speaking directly to the Prime Minister of Thailand Prayut Chan-o-ocha, to secure his immediate release and safe return to Australia. Hakeem has been held in a Bangkok jail for the past 60 days, awaiting possible extradition to Bahrain, and the tragic consequences to his young life that would eventuate.

He is a torture survivor, former international athlete and brave young man who spoke out on behalf of the people of Bahrain for freedom and democracy. His rights as a refugee under international law are being contravened and we stand in solidarity with him as Champions and Captains of Australian sport. It is our duty as leaders to protect all athletes in our sporting communities. No athlete should ever be sanctioned, much less imprisoned and tortured, for expressing their right to free speech and their support for the rule of law and democracy. Hakeem is also a recognised refugee and, having been put in this extremely vulnerable situation, now needs our help, and your voice.

We welcome the advocacy of Foreign Minister, Marise Payne who raised Hakeem’s case publicly and directly with the Minister for Foreign Affairs of Thailand, Mr Don Pramudwinai and Deputy Prime Minister, Mr Prajin Juntong. Nevertheless, Hakeem remains imprisoned. Despite progress made on the issue by Minister Payne, Hakeem’s physical and psychological wellbeing is of very serious concern to us, as fellow athletes. We cannot stress the gravity, and urgency of this matter to the sporting community enough.

Your escalation of the issue, not just as Prime Minister of Australia, but as a recognised and self-avowed lover of sport, would signal to the Government of Thailand that the human rights of Hakeem al-Araibi, one of our fellow internationals, are to be protected to the maximum degree.

It would also confirm that Australia takes this contravention of the friendship between our two nations with the utmost urgency and gravity.

Yours Sincerely, The undersigned.

James Maloney Rugby League World Cup Champion, two time NRL Champion, Panthers' Captain and NRL Players Assn, Rugby League

Alex Wilkinson President, Professional Footballers Australia, Football

Natalie Medhurst Three time World Champion, Commonwealth Champion, President AUS Netball Players Association, Netball

Greg Dyer President Australian Cricketers' Association, World Cup Champion, Cricket

Lisa Sthalekar Fmr AUS Cricket Captain, World Cup Champion, World Twenty20 Champion, Cricket

Kim Brennan, AM Olympic Gold, Silver and Bronze Medalist, World Champion, Rowing

Steve Hooker, OAM Olympic Gold Medalist, World Champion, Commonwealth Champion, Athletics

Daniel Kowalski, OAM Olympic Gold, Silver and Double Bronze Medalist, World Champion, Commonwealth Champion, Swimming

Laura Hodges Double Olympic Silver and Bronze Medalist, Commonwealth Champion, Basketball

Jess Fox Olympic Silver and Bronze Medalist, nine time World Champion, Canoe

Lydia Lassila, OAM Olympic Gold and Bronze Medalist, Freestyle Skiing

Alex Tobin Olympian, Fmr AUS Football Captain, Football

Frank Farina, OAM Olympian, Fmr AUS National Team Coach, Football

Paul Wade Olympian, Fmr AUS Football Captain, Football

Craig Foster Fmr AUS Football Captain, Football

Natalie Galea Olympian, International Judo Federation Athletes Commission, Judo

Nikki Dryden Olympian, Commonwealth Bronze Medalist, Swimming

Matt White Olympian, Cycling

Caroline Anderson, nee Bartasek, Olympian, Taekwondo

Katie Kelly, OAM Paralympic Gold Medalist, World Champion, Triathlon

Cate Campbell, OAM Olympic Gold and Bronze Medalist, World Champion, Swimming

Jamie Dwyer, OAM Olympic Gold and Bronze Medalist, Hockey

Maria Pekli Olympic Bronze Medalist, Judo

Margot Foster Olympic Bronze Medalist, Rowing

Shelley Watts Olympian, Commonwealth Champion, Boxing

Scott Kneller Olympian, Alpine Skiing

Michelle Engelsman Olympian, World Championship Silver Medalist, Swimming

Melissa Mitchell-Gumley Olympian, World Champion and Silver Medalist, Swimming

Jane Saville Olympic Bronze Medalist, three time Commonwealth Champion, Athletics

Natalie Saville Olympian, Commonwealth Silver Medalist, Athletics