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What a good boy am I? So what’s the go here?

The case of Hakeem Al-Araibi vs Behrouz Boochani and countless genuine refugees (assessed by UNHCR) in Australian offshore detention on Manus Island and Nauru

By Jon Chesterson  

Can someone, anyone tell me what makes Hakeem Al-Raibi’s case so special and different from say Behrouz Boochani or any of the other refugees on Manus Island and Nauru?

So what’s the go here and is it even safe to raise the question after the Australian hype and popularity of what is undeniably a fabulous outcome for protecting the right of one refugee today, save Dr Phelp’s ‘Urgent Medical Transfer’ refugee Bill currently going through Parliament a second time, having once already been denied passage before Christmas by Prime Minister Scott Morrison.

Before I go any further let me first iterate without any ambiguity or misunderstanding, I fully applaud Hakeem’s release from Thailand, I applaud his alleged claim and right to seek asylum and the integrity of his actions as I understand them, and I applaud Australia and our government for pursuing and defending his case and rights under international law. So in mounting my questions and argument I am in no way diminishing his right to Australian or international justice and human rights. I wish he and his family the success they or anyone else in similar shoes deserve, that said which by reason brings me to the point of the matter.

But what makes Hakeem Al-Raibi’s case so special and different from say Behrouz Boochani or any of the other refugees on Manus Island and Nauru? They are both genuine humanitarian refugees, Hakeem has fled his home country, Bahrain and Behrouz from Iran. Neither have any criminal record or history within their own country, overseas or in Australia. Both individuals have a respectful manner and integrity any reasonable and fair minded Australian or citizen of any country would rightly be proud of, as do many others in our offshore detention centres, and yet what makes them so different they should be treated so differently by our incumbent Australian Government and Parliament?

Is it because he is a precious footballer while Behrouz is a suspicious journalist?

Is it because he came by plane and not by boat, and of course people who come by boat must be punished to keep others from coming, even though they have broken no law? Punishing a person for someone else’s possible future behaviour that has not yet happened, nor a crime, but simply to use as hostage and deterrent is ominously ‘thought police’ Orwellian. What kind of law, political or religious fanaticism is this?

Is it because he just happens to have got to Australia, had access to Australian and international law and acquired a protection visa; while Behrouz was prevented from landing, denied natural justice and international protection as a genuine refugee and consequently imprisoned on a remote Pacific island, where the international community and Australian justice system could not defend him?

Or is it because this desperate Liberal-National Coalition government are looking for propaganda, a show case, a good news twist to claim they take their international relations, laws and obligations for refugees seriously, while with the other hand flout international law and justice in their own country and offshore? And just when there happens to be a general election looming – how convenient!

Both men, like many others on Manus and Nauru have fled a country and regime that has threatened or attempted to torture them. Neither have committed any crime in their own country nor by virtue of seeking asylum in another country and making their way to Australia to do so. So what is the difference in matters of law or justice?

Clearly this must be political and by that I mean one of them magically strikes gold, the other is demonised, incarcerated for five years indefinitely on Manus Island. Paradoxically one is the unintended hero or nemesis of the other.

Hakeem Al-Araibi

In Hakeem’s case he was allowed to enter Australia on a passenger flight, subsequently claimed asylum and in due course was granted a protection visa. He joins a football club and later obtains a visa to holiday and honeymoon in Thailand. it was reported that the AFP, working as locally based Interpol, had notified Thailand of his arrival and did not flag his refugee status, however the Australian Government have subsequently denied this. But was this a blooper, it would not have been the first time?

it was reported on 30 January 2019 that the Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison had called upon his Thai counterpart Prayut Chan-o-cha a few days earlier in a letter, stressing that Hakeem Al-Araibi had been issued a permanent protection visa by Australia after a deliberate and considered process and that returning the footballer to Bahrain would infringe his rights under international human rights law. A somewhat strange position to take when Australia has been as ardent in the refoulement of refugees in violation of international law as Thailand, except that Australia is a sworn signatory to the UN Convention, so not to do this, while Thailand is not.

In late January, the office of Marise Payne said that her government was making “extensive efforts” on behalf of Hakeem Al-Araibi and yet no effort is made to appease the contradiction of enforced incarceration of others in our offshore detention centres. In fact Peter Dutton and Scott Morrison have gone to extraordinary and excessive lengths to demonise, deny justice and freedom, to the extent of repeated and direct combat and opposition in the Federal courts on the provision of appropriate lifesaving emergency medical care, unsuccessful in every case.

Thailand is not a signatory to the 1951 Refugee Convention, has a history of returning alleged criminals to their countries of origin, and has strong economic links with Bahrain.

The Australian government has bent over backwards, twice over and beyond to advocate Hakeem’s rights as a refugee to Thailand, Bahrain, the international community and back at home to the people of Australia. The Australian government has gone to extraordinary lengths to publicise this, create, fan and ride the tide of public sentiment – subscript ‘what a compassionate, humanitarian and just country we are’… the Prime Minister never coy in pulling out his plum.

Behrouz Boochani

In Behrouz’s case, like many others on Manus Island and Nauru, he has been intercepted by a Border Force boat without any due process or hearing, transferred and dispatched to a remote island offshore where he has subsequently languished with 2000 others for the past 5 years alongside many others (not nearly as many who come by plane from overseas). He has been tortured and abused by security officers and private companies acting on behalf of the Australian Border Force and Government, denied his freedom, access to reasonable medical care, denied a protection visa, denied legal representation, denied entry to Australia, demonised and held indefinitely offshore against his will illegally according to Australian, PNG and International law.

What makes these two cases so different, that one is hero worshipped and the other demonised? Both were fleeing their country of birth for the exact same purpose and reasons as the other. What kind of legal, social, moral or arbitrary justice is this?

Is it really football that softens the hearts of our politicians and the masses (cricket having had its own recent fall from grace) or is there some hidden agenda, some magical reason or cause we don’t know about? Or is it just because there is an election campaign under way, the Liberals are running scared and have need to hide the delusional ravings of a mad Prime Minister, his Minister for Home Affairs, their mad psychotic party and the repressed prejudices of a few loud mouthed wealthy elite or ignorant ill-bred ill-informed citizens?

So what’s the go here with refugees? Have we been ‘Trumped and Murdoched’ once again by our very own government?

No good boys here.

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12 comments

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  1. New England Cocky

    “What kind of law, political or religious fanaticism is this?” It is called “fascist apartheid” not dissimilar to the South African regime 1948-1990 or the situation in Germany 1933 -1945, or the current situation in the US (United States of Apartheid) where cultural, economic and social segregation is practised in too many places.

    The present Australian refugee policies are a national shame on ALL Australian citizens. The “Stop the boats” policy is a smoke screen that allows successive Canberra governments to support the external migration policies of PRC since 1988 where Chinese citizens are flown into Australia and supported by PRC government “mentors” to become established in businesses. Many of these migrants go on to be quite successful and contribute to our society.

  2. Michael Taylor

    The bill was just passed! 👍👍🦘🦘🦘

  3. Jon Chesterson

    Dr Phelp’s ‘Urgent Medical Transfer’ refugee Bill (Medivac) with today’s amendments has just passed through Parliament, finally the Morrison Government has been defeated despite all the dirty tactics he and the Attorney General could muster.

    The right to appropriate emergency medical care is the first step in a very long battle on human rights. May be now the tide is turning. My question to the government and the Australian people as put stands.

  4. whatever

    Scotty and his crew seem to derive their tactics from the Warner Bros cartoon Coyote, with his ACME Dynamite and falling anvils.
    The anvil invariably lands on YOUR head, Scotty.

  5. Kronomex

    Tantrum time (Trump style hissy fit?) from Scummo didn’t take long.

    “My job now, as Prime Minister, my job up until now, I should say, is to do everything that was in my power to prevent these laws that weaken our border protection, that make all of us less safe when it comes to how our borders operate and now run the very real risk of seeing the boats run again and, believe me, every arrival is on Bill Shorten and Labor’s head, every arrival, every risk is on his head.
    To answer the question David has put to me, my job up until now has been to prevent those bills passing and those bills have gone through the House of Representatives. My job now is to work with our border protection and security agencies to do everything in my power to mitigate the damaging impact of what Labor have done tonight.
    The Minister for Home Affairs and Minister for Immigration, Citizenship and Multicultural Affairs are meeting now with our Border Protection Command to work through the contingency planning that we have been putting in place for this outcome.
    This outcome was not unexpected to me and, as a result, we have been putting contingency planning in place and I’ll have more announcements to make about the actions and decisions the Government will be taking to address now the risk and the threat that Labor and Bill Shorten have created.”

    Taken from –

    https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/live/2019/feb/12/morrison-shorten-coalition-labor-medical-evacuation-bill-kerryn-phelps-politics-live

    Now the lies and dirt and shit will really be ramped up to new levels from the LNP, The Murdoch, Jones, and their ilk.

  6. Matters Not

    As I understand it, the footballer is now in Australia only because Bahrain abandoned its legal proceedings and then Thai officials saw no reason to further detain him. As to why Bahrain acted as it recently did remains a mystery to me. Has Bahrain made any statement(s)? If so, then can anyone provide a link?

    Or is their side of the story (the drivers of thelegal bus) not part of this ‘fairy tale’ narrative?

  7. Kaye Lee

    “Bahrain withdrew its extradition request without explanation. A Bahrain government spokesman declined to give details when asked who had ordered a halt to the legal proceedings.

    However, authorities in Bahrain, which has accused Araibi of crimes committed during the Arab Spring protests of 2011, also reaffirmed their right to pursue legal action against him.

    In a statement, Bahrain’s foreign ministry said it had noted the halt of legal proceedings and the verdict against the footballer remained in place.

    Araibi was convicted of vandalising a police station during the 2011 anti-government protests in Bahrain and sentenced in absentia after he fled. Araibi denies the charges, saying he was playing in a televised soccer match at the time of the police station attack.

    New York-based Human Rights Watch has said Araibi was tortured by Bahraini authorities because of his brother’s political activities during the 2011 protests. Bahraini authorities deny allegations of torture.”

    https://www.reuters.com/article/us-thailand-bahrain-refugee/refugee-bahraini-footballer-leaves-thai-jail-after-extradition-bid-dropped-idUSKCN1Q00NJ

  8. Kerri

    Jon, thank you so much for this article. I have been inwardly railing all day but unable to muster the eloquence of your piece.
    I have omplained long and hard to anyone who will listen about the favours paid by Australia to anyone who can throw, catch, hit or kick a ball.
    Indeed like you I am pleased at the outcome of this case but still wonder how many refugees are denied such overwhelming support because of their lack of ball skills.

  9. Matters Not

    Thanks KL for the link. On The Drum tonight, Tracey Holmes provided an excellent backgrounder re the (mainly football) politics involved – ably assisted by Peter Fitzsimons. Seems like a face saving exercise all round – with Morrison et al just bit players.

    Today – football was the winner. (Vomit.)

  10. paul walter

    Matters Not, maybe Bahrain dropped it because it knows what a filthy name the mid-east sheikdoms have and that the Hakeem case is just one of many, that includes the Khashoggi murder.

    There are related reasons to do with world football discussed by Craig Foster elsewhere that smacks of corruption and I suspect it goes far as under siege Donald Trump, friend of Eurasian and Arab monarchist dictatorships who is now involved in an embarrassing public brawl with zillionaire Jeff Bezos

    Jeff Bezos own amongst other things, the Washington Post newspaper that Khashoggi worked for and thus is connected to the exposure of the corrupt and violent nature of the relationship between Trump and The Mid-east puppet monarchies, and (thus possibly) his plans to wage war against Iran, something he finds it increasingly hard to do as he reputation fades further, even to increasing public awareness of a nearly exposed probable betrayal of his own country.

  11. Jon Chesterson

    Thanks Kerri, I am hearing a lot from others who feel sick at Morrison’s claim and intervention here, and I think we all know that one reason is because it is soccer and the other is about boosting his reputation, and the two are inseparable given his treatment and demonisation of refugees and the election coming up. But yes I felt quite sick of his bragging yesterday and the media hype and voyeurism over the arrival back in Australia, including the sycophant behaviour of our current Liberal controlled ABC.

    Today, all we are hearing from Morrison and Dutton (again on our ABC) is lies, spin, scaremongering, slander, accusation, rant, delusion, demonisation and bad breath… Now refugees are ‘guilty of child sexual abuse and other serious crimes’ and our borders under threat – We are back on this rort and sordid misinformation, and once again no crimes committed, no charges brought and still they languish… five years in illegal detention. Why oh why does the ABC give our corrupt Ministers so much air time for Morrison, Dutton and Pyne to pull those hideous strings! And right now I hear that cocky senator Mathias Cormann ranting on in the Senate this morning as I write, demonising the refugees yet again who have no voice to defend themselves against these reckless agitations, ‘rapists, pedophiles and murderers’. It is scandalous! I thought we believed a person was innocent until proven guilty and these Liberals have had five years to charge or prosecute this. It is just another wild abusive disgraceful deterrent argument that we allow justice to be massacred like this in our Parliament. It is not even a legitimate excuse to deny basic medical treatment let alone emergency medical care. They shouldn’t even be there!

    Real soccer news, meanwhile not even a mention this morning on the ABC or tribute to the loss of one of the world’s greatest ever football players, Gordon Banks who died today? Pele said, “Rest in peace, my friend. Yes, you were a goalkeeper with magic. But you were also so much more. You were a fine human being. BBC – “https://www.bbc.com/sport/football/47215837

    I remember that 1966 world cup final, I was just 7 years old watching that match on TV at boarding school in Sussex. Banks and Pele both legends, and it warms my heart to see these two players in opposition such good friends years later. What have we lost? Perhaps a memory of a forgotten era, but I fear it is our humanity…. Fine human beings we could once relate and aspire to. Where are they?

    Yes soccer, indeed all sports has its corruption too, not least the Royal family in Bahrain’s puppet strings over soccer in the Middle East. But let’s not forget our humanity like they and our corrupt Liberal party have. Let’s not fall any longer to their evil rants. Let’s call it out. They are not good boys as they keep trying to force us believe.

    And a riddle for our ABC –

    Little Jack Horner
    Sat in the corner,
    Eating his Christmas pie;
    He put in his thumb,
    And pulled out a plum,
    And said, “What a good boy am I!”

    c. 1791

  12. Kyran

    For what it is worth, a young man, Walid Zazai, had his 26th birthday on Sunday. This young man received some acclaim for donating $30 to the ASRC when Dud-do set about persecuting refugees in Australia.

    https://www.huffingtonpost.com.au/2017/09/01/manus-refugee-donates-his-only-money-to-aussie-refugee-appeal_a_23193165/

    At the time, the AIMN was good enough to publish an article on the situation.

    https://theaimn.com/sound-silence-vale-hamed/

    By any account, this young man is extraordinary. His facebook page quietly celebrated his 6th birthday on Manus.

    https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100010361050371&ref=br_rs

    Whatever persecution he may have experienced on his journey to Manus, it would likely pale in comparison to his last six years. He has watched friends suffer and die, at least one of them murdered by the prison guards. He has had to endure his own demons without any assistance from those who have imprisoned him. He has been held without charge or trial. He is now accused by an insane association, that, should one of the many prisoners have criminal tendencies, they all must be tarnished. The government says that it would be impossible to vet people who have been under their scrutiny for five years with any surety. The government says that, even though they will be in detention in Australia, the public’s safety is threatened.
    The blatant, patent stupidity of this lie is being called out left right and centre.
    Compare that, if you will, to the Commonwealth games entrants who sought asylum whilst in Australia in both 2006 and 2018. It was a troubling irony that those who had sought asylum in Melbourne in 2006 went on to represent Australia in 2018.
    As for the trump element, it can never be said often enough. Mr Boochani is Iranian. Iraqis, Iranians, Libyans, Somalis, Sudanese, Syrians and Yemenis are on the American ‘no go’ list. None of those we have warehoused in our gulags from those cohorts have any prospect of the one option available to them, trump’s America.
    Thank you Mr Chesterson and commenters. Take care

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