F1 Must Speak out Against Raids and Arrests
Washington, D.C. – Bahraini Grand Prix organizers, participants, and sponsors should speak out urgently and publicly against arbitrary arrests and other human rights violations taking place ahead of this week’s Formula 1 race. Human Rights First cautions that failure to do so will result in an event that is tainted by the government crackdown and reflect poorly on the F1 racing industry.
“F1’s continued silence in the face of increased government repression ahead of this weekend’s race could easily be seen as the organization’s complicity with the crackdown,” said Human Rights First’s Brian Dooley. “Local human rights activists can’t understand why the F1 teams and sponsors are not speaking out against the raids, arrests, and detentions that seem to be linked to the race. Their silence is horribly damaging to the reputation of the sport and those associated with it.”
Dooley notes that the F1 organization decided to hold the race in Bahrain this year over the objections of leading human rights figures in the country. In the days leading up to its kickoff, arbitrary arrests in neighborhoods near the track have increased and many human rights defenders have faced added government scrutiny. Local human rights activists estimate that over 60 people have been arrested in the week leading up to the race, many from villages near the track. Several protests have taken place against the F1 and more are expected in the coming days.
“The official race slogan is ‘Imagine Your Moment,’ but the moment too many Bahrainis are imagining is when their home gets raided and family members arrested because they live close to the F1 circuit,” said Dooley. “Time is running out for the organizers to distance themselves from this repression. At the very least, they should make clear that they do not want anyone seized or detained because the race is taking place.”