Teams told to boycott Bahrain

By on Sunday, January 8, 2012

Bahrain Grand Prix

Human rights groups have urged Formula One teams to boycott April's Bahrain Grand Prix amidst continuing unrest in the country.

The 2011 race was cancelled following political protests in the Gulf State although a return to Bahrain is pencilled in for April 22nd.

"We will campaign for drivers and teams to boycott. The government wants Formula One to tell the outside world that everything is back to normal,” said Nabeel Rajab, vice president for Bahrain Center for Human Rights.

“Formula One, if they come, they are helping the government to say [it is normal]. We would prefer it if they didn’t take part. I am sure the drivers and teams respect human rights.”

Back in November, Bernie Ecclestone insisted that F1 would be in Bahrain 'unless something terrible happens'. Reuters reports that the situation in Bahrain has not changed since last year. Activists said several security officers threw Nabeel Rajab, head of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights, to the ground and beat him on the head, neck and back after a protest march on Friday. Bahrain officials denied this, saying that they found him lying on the floor and helped him to hospital.

Mariwan Hama-Saeed of New York-based Human Rights Watch told Arabian Business,“[The FIA] should consider the serious abuse of human rights in Bahrain and the fact that to this day authorities continue to suppress pro-democracy protests.”

“I doubt that Formula One can be a success in a country where serious human rights abuses have been committed. The political situation is unstable and polarised in Bahrain. We are very concerned about the government's commitment to implement meaningful reform.”

The Bahrain situation is likely to rumble on for a few months yet.

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