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"The Defenders" Wins Sydeny Film Festival Award, Hakeem Al-Araibi's Case Returns to the Fore

2023-06-27 - 11:53 am

Bahrain Mirror: "The Defenders" has won the Sydney Film Festival Audience Award for best Australian documentary.

The documentary reveals what happened behind the scenes through Australian athlete Craig Foster's defence battle for Bahraini footballer Hakeem Al-Araibi, who was imprisoned in Thailand in 2018.

Foster tweeted saying "It takes courage to take on powerful Governments. But courage defines human rights defenders like Hakeem Al-Araibi. Thanks to everyone who voted for ‘The Defenders' as Best Australian Documentary at Sydney Film Festival."

Hakeen said in an interview with "The Project" program, "I am still worried about myself and my family in Bahrain, especially after my story was circulated," stressing that he doesn't want the Bahraini government to retaliate against his family.

Al-Araibi noted that the charge brought against him was just because he is Shiite, stressing that he is not the only one who has suffered, as there are doctors and engineers languishing behind bars just for being Shiites.

Foster also spoke during the interview and said that he is not the only one who played a role in defending Hakeem, adding "there are hundreds of thousands of Australians who stood for him." He said that "this documentary was made to thank them for what they did, as a lot of people stood for Hakeem, including this show."

"We talked for the first time in this documentary about the role of ruling families, monarchies, including the monarchy in Thailand, which was not possible to talk about during the campaign, especially since laws in Thailand criminalize people of who criticize the king," Foster stated.

He stressed that "People can understand through this documentary this incredible international coalition of people, including athletes, in standing against injustice and defending the values of sport," Foster said, noting that "there's a lot of work to be done in this area."

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