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Formula 1 vehicles pass without paying attention to human rights violations in Bahrain

The Bahrain Center for Human Rights called on the Formula 1 administration to pressure the authorities of the Khalifa regime in Bahrain to improve the deteriorating human rights situation and not to ignore human rights violations in the country.

The centre indicated that the Formula 1 World Championship competitions for the 2023 season have started. This coincides with grave and continuous human rights violations that have suppressed dissenting voices and undermined the peaceful movement to its lowest levels.

The authority in Bahrain has sought to tighten its security grip and eliminate dissent. The centre said that this unjustified crackdown included widespread violations against human rights defenders, journalists, political activists, Shiite clerics, and peaceful demonstrators.

The centre added that Sheikh Ali Salman, Secretary General of the National Accord Society – the most significant political society – was also sentenced to life imprisonment in retaliation for his peaceful activity and views criticizing the authority.

The human rights centre referred to Bahrain’s adoption of strict laws, such as Law 58 of 2006 regarding “protecting society from terrorist acts,” the Political Associations Law, and the amendment to the Penal Code, which unleashed the power to target protesters and other government critics. This is in addition to many violations, including revocation of nationality, unfair trials and executions.

According to the centre, anyone who follows the human rights issue in Bahrain can easily conclude that the authorities in Bahrain are taking advantage of the Formula 1 event to obscure the deteriorating human rights situation in the country by anticipating this massive event with a campaign of arrests and tightening the security presence, especially in the villages near the site of this enormous event.

It stressed that the continuation of these violations until today requires the Formula 1 administration and the authorities responsible for it to consider the deteriorating human rights situation in Bahrain and urged the authorities to release all prisoners of opinion and conscience led by opposition figures.

The Bahrain Center for Human Rights also called on the Bahraini government to improve the human rights situation instead of obscuring it.

The 2023 Formula One season renewed the spotlight on violations in Bahrain in light of human rights organizations calling for the release of political prisoners in Bahrain amid fears of “sports whitening.”

Ahead of the 2023 Formula One season, which begins this weekend in Bahrain, 21 international human rights organizations and trade unions sent a letter to Stefano Domenicali, CEO of Formula One, to demand the urgent disclosure of human rights articles in Formula 1 contracts.

The organizations said they were seeking clarification after the Formula 1 chief executive revealed in a recent interview that Formula 1 contracts contain provisions that allow sporting activity to be stopped in host countries if Formula 1 is not satisfied “with the situation of human rights issues in a country”. Human rights organizations are now calling on Domenicali to disclose the material.

The letter refutes the prevailing human rights situation coinciding with the establishment of this race. It condemns the Bahraini law that criminalizes peaceful protest, severely limits freedom of expression, and eliminates any space for those who exercise their fundamental rights to freedom of assembly, expression and opinion, including peaceful opposition to the Formula Race.

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