- Bahrain Campaign’s statement:
Bahrain Campaign echoes calls of Bahraini People: “F1 race must be cancelled and fans should visit the barricaded Duraz Town”
The annual Formula 1 Grand Prix races in Bahrain are looming, starting on 16 April and continuing for four days. The regime in Bahrain sees such races as key to its international image, and pins its hopes on reversing its tarnished image and hiding the massacres and abuses happening behind the scenes against the Bahraini indigenous population by appearing “normal” and “friendly” through the bravado and showmanship of these races.
However, the reality of the situation cannot be covered up this easily. In 2011, during the spread of the Bahraini peaceful uprising, a violent crackdown to retake the Pearl Roundabout – what became a peaceful icon for the revolution – occurred a month before the races, where tens of Bahrainis were killed and thousands injured and arrested by Al-Khalifa security forces. From 2012 to 2015, the regime in Bahrain commenced an intensified crackdown on any peaceful protest during this time, and arrests Bahrainis by the dozens, in a frenzied worry that the races will be cancelled. In 2016, a 17-year-old Bahraini youth, Ali Abdulghani, was killed in the Bahraini village of Shahrakan (only three miles from the Formula 1 racing track) by security forces, one day after the Formula 1 Grand Prix races came to an end in Bahrain.
It is also important to understand that the Bahraini people are not against the Formula 1 races per se, rather they welcome the F1 racers & their teams, but at these times, they rightfully see a race in Bahrain as akin to racing on the blood of peaceful protesters and to whitewash the country’s dire state. Especially considering the fact that the regime in Bahrain see this race simply as a public relations stunt to hide the massacres and atrocities they have committed against the Bahraini people to snuff out their calls for freedoms and rights, democratic transformation, and an end to Al-Khalifa tyrannical rule.
Bahrain Campaign echoes the words of the Bahraini people, and that is to urge F1 to not race in Bahrain. F1 races in Bahrain are principally intended by the regime to whitewash their crimes against the indigenous people. We urge all F1 racers, teams, and fans to visit Bahrain’s villages, and witness the Duraz Town siege & crackdown on the Bahraini people.
Rights Groups to F1: Cancel the race if you can’t guarantee safety
Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy (BIRD), ARTICLE 19, the Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR) and Americans for Democracy & Human Rights in Bahrain (ADHRB)
The Formula 1 Grand Prix in Bahrain should be cancelled unless it can uphold its human rights commitments, say human rights NGO’s in a letter made public today.
The Bahrain Grand Prix (GP) has been controversial since it was first cancelled in 2011, when the Government of Bahrain declared a state of martial law to violently repress mass pro-democracy protests.
The GP returned in 2012, but has been an annual flashpoint for human rights abuses. In the same year, a father of five, Salah Abbas, was shot dead by police at the time of the race. No independent investigation was ever carried out.
The letter, addressed to Formula 1’s administration, the NGOs state that “human rights violations have been a common occurrence during Formula 1 Grand Prix races in Bahrain. The death of Ali Abdulghani last year never elicited a credible independent investigation, and the Government of Bahrain’s record has only regressed further in the year since the last race. Formula 1 will become complicit in these human rights violations if it does not cancel its upcoming races in Bahrain.”
OpenDemocracy: Formula 1 will land in Bahrain next week. Do we forget about the country’s human rights abuses?
Among those targeted in the past year was award-winning journalist Nazeeha Saeed, who received a travel ban without explanation last summer. She then faced a charge of working as a correspondent for foreign media outlets without authorisation. 43 NGOs signed a letter expressing deep concern at the charge, and Reporters Without Borders urged Bahrain’s authorities to abandon the trial in January 2017.
Saeed had suffered before at the hands of the police. In 2011 she was allegedly tortured for 13 hours after police detained her for coverage of pro-democracy protests, where she witnessed the police killing a man. Four years later the judicial authorities decided that the officers responsible for torturing her would not be prosecuted, citing insufficient evidence.