The human rights situation in Bahrain continues to to deteriorate, regardless of and as a result of the presence of Formula One. Hundreds of protestors gathered outside the international airport to greet the teams with banners proclaiming “Our demand: Freedom not Formula”. Khadija al–Mousawi, the wife of the Bahraini human rights activist in jail and on hunger strike, Abdulhadi al-Khawaja, stated,
I am not angry with the government…it’s their future at stake. What makes me angry is people like Ecclestone who decides to come to Bahrain because he thinks everyone is happy. I can assure you that I am not happy. My family is not happy.Bahrain hunger striker’s wife criticises Ecclestone
Violence has escalted throughout the kingdom in the run up to the race and the Brussles based think tank International Crisis Group(ICG) has warned,
Beneath a facade of normilisation, Bahrain is sliding toward another dangerous erution of violence.
Jenson Button, in all his wisdom, trusts the FIA in their decision to hold the race in Bahrain. Jenson, this is not about trusting in authority. It is simply about opening your eyes to what is actually going on in the kingdom and the effect your industry is having on the situation, despite assurance of your own safety and that of advice from your superiors.
In regards to the F1 team safety, members of the Force India team found themselves caught up in a petrol bomb incident in the capital today. Will the teams now wake up as their own staff are put in physical danger? If the teams feel impotent to act without orders from the FIA will the governing body finally act? The FIA should be beyond concerned about their staff. There is no gurantee that any extra security put on at the circuit will prevent any outside interference during practice, qualifying and the race.
This race has to be withdrawn, immediately. The very presence of Forumla One is putting Bahraini lives at risk as security forces try to prevent an embarrasment to their rulers using, stun grenades on protestors as well as rubber bullets, which despite their name can be and are deadly.
Is it, however, too late for the FIA to withdraw the race? Have to many contracts been signed, too much money been transferred into too many bank accounts and too many sponsors placated to draw back now? Surely these are the only real reasons the race is even being considered? Whatever the truth may be it seems only an absolute catastrophe will stop the race going ahead now and at the end of it all the Bahraini people will be the ones to pay, for long after Formula One has vacated the kingdom.
Jonathan Woodrow Martin