Boycott Tourism in Thailand until Hakeem Returns: In’t Calls Launched from Australia
2019-02-09 - 3:28 ص
Bahrain Mirror (Exclusive): If a practical conclusion was to be made from the widespread international campaign voicing solidarity with Pascoe Vale Football Club player, Hakeem Al-Araibi, a Bahraini granted refugee status in Australia, a campaign which has not yet appeared to have found a positive echo in the Thai government, it would only be a call for: "Boycotting tourism in Thailand.
This is not a far-fetched call or unrealizable dream, but rather calls that have been actually made and have received considerable resonance in Australian sports and human rights community and echoed by international activists, especially with the circulation of humiliating photos of Al-Araibi with his feet cuffed, the moment he was led by the police to a court in Bangkok on Monday (February 4, 2019).
"I think it's time to use our power as consumers - rethink your holiday plans Aussies. Show one of our most popular holiday destinations you mean business, go elsewhere and tell Tourism Thailand," said Australian activist Mary Delahunty. Meanwhile, Australian businessman Marco Bogaers tweeted "our family spent a small fortune holidaying in Thailand recently ...won't be happening again ...ever... if Hakeem is not safely returned to Australia."
Within hours, #SaveHakeem became the most trending hashtag on social media outlets, now nearing one million tweets. The captured video showing Al-Araibi in shackles walking in a long line of defendants, as two Thai police officers grab his shoulders, received many comments of condemnation, forcing a Thai official to comment.
Thailand's immigration police chief Surachate Hakparn stated apparently as a response to the intensity of the media coverage on this issue: "I request permission to clarify regarding putting shackles on the feet, it is in accordance with the laws governing the accused and in accordance with international principles."
But his statement only received a little echo. Instead, another hashtag has been widely spread calling for boycotting travel to Thailand #BoycottThailand in protest against this.
Another commented on the footage he retweeted on his account saying "Absolutely disgusting by the Thai Government! Why does Australia continue to support their economy by Government funding and tourism! Enough is enough!"
In response, Australian publisher and author Julie Boyd urged citizens to resort to boycotting and said "Consumer boycott of Thailand. No holidays, no medical tourism, no consumer goods, no football."
A Thai court renewed the detention of Al-Araibi for an additional 60 days to give his lawyer the opportunity to lodge an appeal against the extradition request made by the Bahraini authorities. The hearing was attended by representatives of the Governments of Australia, the United States of America, Britain, Belgium, New Zealand, Switzerland, Sweden, the European Union, Denmark, Canada, Germany, France and Norway, as well as representatives of FIFA and Human Rights Watch.
For her part, ABC news radio presenter, Tracey Holmes, wondered "How many Australians visit Thailand each year? How many tourist dollars are invested into the Thai economy?" before she said "if tourists unite and boycott Thailand to save Hakeem that'd be a pretty strong message to the authorities." Meanwhile, Australian lawyer Nicholas Stewart stressed: "I'm reconsidering ever travelling to Thailand again #SaveHakeem."
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