From Human Rights Watch:
Bahrain: Release People Jailed for Speaking Out
Response to Independent Commission Should Include Investigating Officials
December 6, 2011
(New York) – Bahraini authorities should quickly address the systematic and egregious rights violations documented by the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry, Human Rights Watch said today. As a first step, the government should immediately release hundreds of people wrongfully detained or convicted following unfair trials. And it should investigate high-level officials responsible for serious human rights violations, Human Rights Watch said.
The Bahrain ‘Spring’: the revolution that wasn’t televised: here.
Is the U.S. on the wrong side of history in Bahrain? Here.
07/12/2011 @ 09:52:54
Formula 1 Should Cancel Bahrain GP Over Human Rights Issues: Fan’s View
By Freddy Sherman, Yahoo! Contributor Network 1 hour, 38 minutes ago
Hosting a Formula 1 race brings many benefits to the host country. It confirms the country as an exciting international destination and brings a lot of positive press and publicity. It brings millions of dollars in sponsorship and broadcasting revenue, along with ticket sales. A race should not be held in a country that cracks down on its own citizens when they’re protesting an unfair government.
The Kingdom of Bahrain, in the Middle East, experienced demonstrations and protests during the Arab Spring, in 2011. The government, through the military and security forces, cracked down hard on the protesters, beating them, torturing them, killing them and arresting them.
In 2011, the Bahrain GP race was scheduled to open the 2011 Formula 1 season in March, but political unrest caused the event’s cancellation, a decision I agree with. Things heated up again in June 2011 when Formula 1’s organizers added the race back to the schedule for October, sparking an outcry from fans and race professionals too.
One of my favorite drivers, Red Bull Racing’s Mark Webber was especially vocal about his opposition to the race and he was right, it was an outrage the sport didn’t take a clear stand from the beginning. I think it’s all about money, Bernie Ecclestone is a great businessman and I think he normally makes good decisions, but I think this time he took the money, instead of refusing it and making a stand for human rights. Ecclestone was allowed to keep the $25 million race fee, despite the race’s cancellation and I think its a key reason why he’s pushing the race to happen in 2012.
Mark Webber commented on the situation on his personal blog: “In my personal opinion, the sport should have taken a much firmer stance earlier this year rather than constantly delaying its decision in the hope of being able to reschedule it in 2011. It would have sent a very clear message about F1’s position on something as fundamental as human rights and how it deals with moral issues.” I think his comments were right on and I agree with them 100%.
Now we’re back with the same situation again, and again Formula 1 is doing the wrong thing. The Bahrain race has been included on the official Formula 1 calendar. The Gulf Air Bahrain Grand Prix is on the calendar for April 22. It’s even more outrageous as an international, independent commission recently released a report condemning the country’s government and confirming all the worst fears about what really happened in the country during the uprisings and government crackdowns.
As Formula 1 plans to hold a lavish GP weekend race, many citizens and political figures remain jailed, due to military tribunals and arbitrary arrests. Human rights leaders, journalists and ordinary citizens were beaten and arrested during the uprisings and remain in prison. Human Rights Watch, an international organization that monitors issues around the world, has called for the government of Bahrain to act, but they have not done anything other than make statements about reform. I think Formula 1 cannot support this government and must take the race off the calendar.
A life-long auto racing fan, Freddy Sherman collects vintage muscle cars and attends races and rally events in the U.S. and around the world. You can follow him on twitter -@thefredsherman
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