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BAHRAIN: Human rights, online activists urge Formula One not to return

Formula One authorities are expected to decide Friday whether Bahrain will be allowed to host a Grand Prix event this year.

The event was postponed in February after protests erupted against the Sunni monarchy in the majority Shiite gulf state. Bahrain's royal family imposed military rule for three months and brought in Saudi and United Arab Emirates troops in mid-March to snuff out protests, detaining protesters and sentencing them in military courts.

Human Rights First, the U.S.-based nonprofit, issued a statement Thursday reminding Formula One  officials of recent reports that peaceful protesters across Bahrain have been attacked by security forces even after the king lifted a state of emergency Wednesday.

"Bahrain’s inability to ease sectarian tensions proves it is not ready to host the race," Human Rights First said in the statement.

Earlier this week, Human Rights First issued a statement urging the U.S. government to demand that Bahraini authorities protect human rights defenders after Bahrain's emergency laws were lifted.

"Continued human rights violations indicate that the Bahraini government is unable to respect and protect basic rights of freedoms of assembly and expression, and further suggest the nation is incapable of hosting a major international sporting event," the latest statement said.

"After months of violent crackdown, the Bahraini government should start protecting human rights," said Brian Dooley, who has worked with Human Rights First to document human rights abuses in Bahrain.

"Do the Formula One authorities and the brands that support them really want to be associated with a Bahraini government that seizes people in the middle of the night and tortures them? With disappearances and deaths in custody?" Dooley said. "Awarding the Grand Prix to the repressive regime will disappoint Formula One fans everywhere."

An online petition posted Thursday asking Formula One teams to boycott the Bahrain event had more than 200,000 signatures.

"We call on you to declare publicly that you won't race in Bahrain this year, because the government has killed and injured hundreds of innocent people standing up for their rights," it said.

-- Molly Hennessy-Fiske in Cairo

Comments () | Archives (3)

Where were human rights when we were abused and scared to leave our houses because of a sectarian revolution supported by terrorist groups such as hezballah and Iran. If you guys go forward and support the wrong people the blood of bahrain will be in your hands. The shiites in our country are the most well off people with the biggest businesses helped by the government. We have ministers that are shiites and the king's poet is even a shiite. Any other western country would have done the same thing and they were not peaceful how can it be peaceful with them blocking the city's capital and its movement for a month and a half and breaking the university and killing innocent sunni people. The west has supported the fall of the shah only to find an extremist government that denies any human rights and that is exactly what is going to happen to bahrain. Bahrain is going to be the Islamic Republic of Bahrain with Iran, Syria, and hezballah being its major allies. Why would we stand against basic human rights? but this is all played and its an act and I hope organizations like you would seek the truth.

Mayram Al Khawaja and Nabeel Rajab are a disgrace to Bahrain. I agree with Mo on that and every point Mo stated in the comment, matter of fact this video may show you a side that you have never seen or known of, and this is the problem with international media.

Human Rights center is meant to be understanding of both sides, and this is not acceptable. This makes the other part of Bahrain upset to find articles like these of such lies and imaginary assaults !
Bahrain in every way deserves to have the Formula 1, as it's always hosted everyone with the best qualities of hospitality and this is what Bahrain has always been known for. Please all view the untold story of our beloved BAHRAIN and see where we stand!

Are you serious?! "that peaceful protesters across Bahrain have been attacked by security forces even after the king lifted a state of emergency Wednesday." Peaceful? Killing policemen and actually running them over back and forth is peaceful to you? What kind of Human Rights center is biased? This proves to me these people are just using humanitarian aid for their own good to ruin Bahrain. Mayram Al Khawaja and Nabeel Rajab are a disgrace to Bahrain.


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