Humanitarian groups accuse Formula 1 of ignoring human rights violations in Bahrain

Ahead of Bahrain’s Grand Prix this weekend, Formula 1 has been accused of ignoring human rights violations in the country and of having a “clear double standard” on where it should and should not host races.

The Bahraini Institute for Rights and Democracy (Bird) said F1 “left those who were tortured and imprisoned” in the country in part because of criticism of the race, which begins the F1 season on March 20th.

The race in Bahrain recently signed a major 15-year extension to continue the household until 2036, prompting various human rights groups to write a letter to F1 CEO Stefan Domenicali, the Grand Prix Drivers Association (GPDA), ten teams in the sport and his administration body, FIA.

In the letter, F1 is accused of “failing to engage with civil society and acknowledging violations of rights in Bahrain”, and of engaging in sports “continuing institutionalized repression” in the country.

Among the list of requests addressed to F1, including the evaluation of the Bahrain Grand Prix agreement, the letter asks F1 to publicly acknowledge the “human rights crisis” in the country.

In response, Formula One issued a statement saying: “For decades, Formula 1 has worked hard to be a positive force wherever it races, including economic, social and cultural benefits. Sports like Formula 1 have a unique position to cross borders and cultures to lead countries and communities together to share the passion and excitement of incredible competition and achievement.

“We take our rights responsibilities very seriously and set high ethical standards for other contracting parties and those in our supply chain, which are contained in the contracts, and we pay great attention to their observance.”

The Kingdom of Bahrain issued its own statement saying: “Bahrain has led human rights reform in the region and suggesting otherwise does not reflect today’s reality.

“Bahrain has the strongest human rights protections in the region. Independent bodies, such as the independent human rights ombudsman – the first of its kind in the Middle East – will protect and investigate any human rights issue; a police code of conduct and comprehensive training. support a policy of zero tolerance for abuse of any kind, and criminal justice reform, whether linked to judicial reform or alternative punishments, provides better protection and results.

“Trying to single out Bahrain in the Formula 1 calendar is absurd, lacks context and completely undermines the tremendous strides and leadership that Bahrain has shown in this area. Bahrain welcomes and actively supports the role of Formula 1 in clarifying human rights issues in all countries where it operates. and in the future. “

The letter also said F1 showed “a clear double standard applicable to countries in the Middle East” following a decision to cancel Russia’s GP after Russia’s military invasion of Ukraine last month, citing Saudi Arabia’s involvement in the conflict with Yemen.

On Monday, Guard reported that prisoners in Bahrain wrote to Lewis Hamilton praising the seven-time world champion for having previously spoken of human rights violations in the Middle East.

“Your genuine concern about these cases has changed the way prisoners think about this sport,” reads the letter seen by the Guardian.

For us, you are our champion, not only the best in driving, but also a human being who cares about the suffering of others. To reflect our support, a new phenomenon has spread in prison. Prisoners have started writing or drawing ‘Sir 44’ or ‘ Lewis 44 ‘on their clothes, which we would wear as support while watching the race. “

Saudi Arabia is hosting the second race of the season on March 27, a week after competing in Bahrain, and also has a 15-year contract with F1 to host the races.


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