No bloody Bahrain F1, says Damon Hill

Making their point: protesters in Bahrain who did not want the 2012 race to go ahead Photo: AP

From the Daily Telegraph in Britain:

Damon Hill: Bahrain should not hold grand prix as it could be used as a political tool

Former Formula One world champion Damon Hill has argued that the sport should not travel to Bahrain next week amid increasing signs that security forces in the Gulf kingdom are planning another drastic suppression of anti-government protests around the grand prix in 10 days’ time.

By Oliver Brown

6:30AM BST 11 Apr 2013

“The question is whether Formula One going to Bahrain would be enabling or furthering brutal repression, by appearing to endorse the treatment being meted out,” he said. “There is a perception that the sport is being used.”

Hill’s remarks, during a security briefing at Portcullis House, add to concerns in Westminster over the tinderbox political situation in Bahrain. Last year’s race was marred by scores of protests near the circuit …

Richard Burden, the Labour MP who called for the grand prix to be cancelled 12 months ago, said the kingdom had not carried out enough political reforms to justify holding the race again this year.

“If I was Jean Todt, president of the FIA, I would not want to run the race in the absence of the proper benchmarks and milestones,” he said. “Based on what I hear from the opposition forces, F1 will be even more of a focus for discontent this year.

“The demonstrations will increase. It is easy to keep F1 cocooned, but the sport should send out a message sensitive to the real situation in Bahrain. By its words and deeds, it must show that it is part of a broader international community.”

Burden expressed dismay with the comments of Bernie Ecclestone, F1’s commercial rights holder, who said last week he could see “no problems” in Bahrain and that he would be attending the grand prix at Sakhir. “I find that message surprising,” he continued. “The holding of this race should have some conditions attached to it – F1 should not see itself in a global bubble.”

The 2011 race had to be scrapped after at least 35 people were killed when Bahrain’s ruling Sunni elite crushed a pro-democracy uprising. After last year’s instalment went ahead against the backdrop of the tightest security, the opposition movement, Al Wefaq, claim that the reforms promised by King Hamad continue to be half-hearted at best. Unrest has again been witnessed in the outlying villages of Sitra and Sanabis.

See also here.

THIS year’s Grand Prix will again take place in Bahrain amid claims of widespread human rights abuses and, so far, the sport’s governing body have dodged the issue: here.

Baird’s support for regime in Bahrain: All part of Canada’s ‘royal’ foreign policy: here.

8 thoughts on “No bloody Bahrain F1, says Damon Hill

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