Amnesty slams Bahrain brutality prior to F1 weekend

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Ahead of this weekend’s Bahrain GP, Amnesty International have released a 76 page report which outlines that “rampant human rights abuse abuses continue unabated,” in the Gulf state.

Four years on from the ‘Arab Spring’ and the uprising which rocked Bahrain in 2011 this major new report which details dozens of current cases of appalling treatment by the Bahraini regime to detainees. Brutal beatings, torture with slowly administered cigarette burns, week long sleep deprivation, sexual assaults, and electric shock treatment administered to the genital regions and one prisoner was burnt continually with an iron. Another detainee was raped and had plastic pipes inserted into his anus.

Detentions are often arbitrary and the excessive use of force by the regime’s enforcers is widespread.

Amnesty International Middle East and North Africa Deputy Director Said Boumedouha states:

“As the world’s eyes fall on Bahrain during the Grand Prix this weekend, few will realise that the international image the authorities have attempted to project of the country as a progressive reformist state committed to human rights masks a far more sinister truth.

 “Four years on from the uprising, repression is widespread and rampant abuses by the security forces continue.

 “The notion that Bahrain respects freedom of expression is pure fiction.

“Where is the freedom in a country where peaceful activists, dissidents and opposition leaders are repeatedly rounded up and arbitrarily arrested simply for tweeting their opinions and reading a poem can get you thrown in jail?”

A 17-year-old boy told Amnesty how he was struck on the right side of his face by a tear gas canister which tore his flesh and broke his jaw as he was chased by security forces as they dispersed a procession in December 2014. He said the officer who arrested him placed his foot on his head and said: “I will kill you today”.

The officers who then took him to hospital mocked him and left him screaming in pain for half an hour before he fell unconscious. He was later released without charge only to be re-arrested during a police raid at a later date.

Whilst Bahrain presents itself as a constitutional monarchy and democracy, the reality is that most of the positions of real power are filled by members from the AL Khalifa family.

Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa was installed as King of the newly declared Kingdom of Bahrain in 2002 and here is a recent list of his relations and their positions of authority

  • HH Shaikh Mohammad bin Mubarak Al Khalifa, Deputy Prime Minister
  • HH Shaikh Ali bin Khalifa Al Khalifa, Deputy Prime Minister
  • Shaikh Khalid bin Abdulla Al Khalifa, Deputy Prime Minister

The Ministers and their portfolios include:

  • Lieutenant General Shaikh Rashid bin Abdulla Al Khalifa, Minister of Interior
  • Shaikh Khalid bin Ahmed bin Mohammad Al Khalifa, Minister of Foreign Affairs
  • Shaikh Ahmed bin Mohammad Al Khalifa, Minister of Finance
  • Shaikh Khalid bin Ali bin Abdulla Al Khalifa, Minister of Justice, Islamic Affairs and Endowment

Last month, BIC Chief Executive Shaikh Salman bin Isa Al Khalifa revealed that ticket sales have reached an all-time high compared to previous years’ levels with 60 days to go before the Bahrain Grand Prix.

In something of a surprise move, The Formula One Group owned by CVC has added a commitment in its section ‘legal notices’ as follows.

“1. The Formula One Group is committed to respecting internationally recognised human rights in its operations globally.

2. Whilst respecting human rights in all of our activities, we focus our efforts in relation to those areas which are within our own direct influence. We do so by taking proportionate steps to:

(a) understand and monitor through our due diligence processes the potential human rights impacts of our activities;

(b) identify and assess, by conducting due diligence where appropriate, any actual or potential adverse human rights impacts with which we may be involved either through our own activities or as a result of our business relationships, including but not limited to our suppliers and promoters;

(c) consider practical responses to any issues raised as a result of our due diligence, within the relevant context;

(d) engage in meaningful consultation with relevant stakeholders in relation to any issues raised as a result of our due diligence, where appropriate; and

(e) respect the human rights of our employees, in particular the prohibitions against forced and child labour, the freedom to associate and organise, the right to engage in collective bargaining, and the elimination of discrimination in employment and occupation.

3. Where domestic laws and regulations conflict with internationally recognised human rights, the Formula One Group will seek ways to honour them to the fullest extent which does not place them in violation of domestic law”.

What exactly this means in terms of a change of practice is to be seen. Yet there is an argument that national regimes who clearly in breach of human rights legislation and/or use brutal methods to interrogate/discipline detainees – and are directly associated with Formula One – should be held to a higher account by the FIA and the commercial rights holders. This differs from circumstances where F1 race promoters are operating independently but under the constraints of a national government with whom they are not connected.

And now, we extend a warm welcome to our new F1 friends in Baku (World Report)

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22 responses to “Amnesty slams Bahrain brutality prior to F1 weekend

  1. Yes and F1 is not allowed to be used in a politically according to FIA regs as well, yet that failed to stop them from flying that plane over the race. Reality is what it is but F1’s continued support of the Khalifa’s in light of this evidence is just wrong. They can stick their heads in the sand if they like, but that’s what they are doing.

    And yes, I get it, no country is perfect, but still I would prefer France to Bahrain at this point.

      • Interesting argument – ‘no where is perfect so don’t bother calling anyone to account…’

        The link you provide begins, ‘Although Australia has a strong record protecting civil and political rights, it has persistently undercut refugee protections. Australia’s government actions, including processing asylum seakers offshore, turning back boats, and fast-tracking screening measures at sea, placed refugees and asylum seekers at greater risk than ever of being returned to a country where they face repression or torture’.

        This is not the same as officers of the state slowly burning someone with a cigarette or raping them…

        • ” … Interesting argument – ‘no where is perfect so don’t bother calling anyone to account…’ … ”

          You’d make a good politician. If anything, my argument would be the complete opposite: “wherever there are abuses, do call them ALL to account”.

          “The link you provide … ” was to support matt55’s statement “no country is perfect” and allow people to judge for themselves how all the F1 countries compared.

          ” The link you provide begins, ‘Although Australia … ”
          see my reply below to the !¿WTF¡?

          • And what pray tell is the characteristic you particularly refer to which makes a “good politician”?

            My point is that F1 currys favour with the Al Khalifa’s – who are directly responsible for these atrocities… The degrees of separation make the difference as to where influence can be brought to bear.

            The promoters of the Australian GP are not slow burning people with cigarettes and beating helpless kids within an inch of their lives.

      • Starting with Australia? An implied link between Australia and Bahrain, really? Wow.

        Pure disingenuity, an unparalleled level of irresponsibility and a total display idiocy. I thought I saw something odd in a comment you made previously on this matter; in your thinly veiled sardonic comment about fearing the potential ISIS revenge on this site if The Judge wrote another article on the matter.

        If it’s so bad in Australia, (and the other western countries you probably nitpick on), why are they (asylum seekers) coming from all over the planet to get into Australia, and not places like Bahrain? Bahrain would be a hell of a lot closer, wouldn’t it? Australia is quite a trip on a rickety old boat.

        Interesting commenter.

        • ” … An implied link between Australia and Bahrain, really? Wow. … ”

          I think you need to learn English.

          Starting with Australia – because that is the first race of the season.

          You forgot the preceding part (capitals added for emphasis) : “check out at the link below where ALL the F1 hosting countries stand on their human rights record .

          “Interesting commenter” – seems you have a trolling fixation, like you used to have with Fortis. ( “!¿WTF¡?” – aren’t you the Aussie guy who got banned for provoking/trolling Fortis? )

  2. While the poison dwarf is in charge only one thing matters, money, and as long as he gets lots, he does not care from which countries he gets it. I would guess he may get the most from countries like Bahrain that have poor human rights records and are trying to hide it behind events like F1, who hide behind the mantra “Sport is apolitical”. Time someone held it to account. English cricket did it with apartheid in South Africa.

  3. Does this mean that as a result of the new rules that FOM agreed to that this is the last year we will race in Bahrain? or the last year we race in Abu Dhabi? (probably not and if that is the case it automatically means that this was yet another thing F1/FOM agreed to to which they have no intention of ever upholding themselves to…)

      • Then Bernie just confiscates their all access pit passes. I think we all know that there are no journalist in the paddock that has the balls to do that.

        Upsetting Bernie is not something they are prepared to do.

      • I’m afraid that the only people who can actually force the FOM in these kind of matters are governments. In the past it was repeatedly shown that FOM, and Bernie in particular, don’t give a crap about being in the news because of a negative reason (Even bad news is a form of advertisement for the poison dwarf).

        The past records of FOM on this subject make that a lot of people are skeptic about FOM improving themselves 😉

  4. I’m going to put a different argument forward. The easiest thing to say is let’s leave Bahrain. Forget it.

    But let me ask you this. Before F1 decided to go there, how many really knew about Bahrain’s appalling Human Rights record? Or how many cared or voiced their concern?
    In a similar way, only now that F1 decides to go to Baku people start voicing their concern vehemently about their appalling record there too.

    So what I say is this, stay in Bahrain, stay in Baku, but since they need you and you need them, why don’t you use this power to put some pressure on them. Use F1 and the drivers as ambassadors for Human Rights. Are they really going to throw Lewis in jail? I’m not saying to be overly political, but surely things can happen behind the scenes and even in a subtle manner in front of cameras.

    Sometimes if you want to bend a branch, the best way is not by force, because it’ll snap. Best way is to soak it in water and then by applying gentle force slowly, it’ll bend! If not, then throw it away

    • I don’t think after four years there’s been any bending whatsoever in Bahrain – and the Crown Prince amongst other Khalifa’s will wander the grid as the centre of attention on Sunday – senior team personnel will be expected to ingratiate him/them… this creates no impetus for change.

      In contrast, there is evidence that Chinese business executives having been exposed to commercial partners outside of China – who do have certain ethical stances – are beginning to speak up against certain government unethical positions.

      For your point to be valid, the romaincing with the devil should stop – and Todt/Ecclestone should at least voice some public concern.

      • That’s exactly my point, there hasn’t been any bending because none was applied. The point is to start applying some force, not just get the petrodollars and wait till next year again.

        • …@McLaren78 Absolutely – just pretending the circumstances do not exists or that F1 is exempt from having to consider these issues – is stupid and like wearing the Emperors new clothes. Everyone else sees exactly what’s happening and again our F1 leaders open themselves to ridicule and derision

  5. Off topic, but my OLD eyes can’t read the quotes well enough to even try. They are TOO LIGHT, and lack sufficient CONTRAST.

  6. Of course the ruling gang are absolute scumbags. A regime which jailed a couple of hundred doctors and nurses for the “crime” of treating people injured in demonstrations against them. But since when did Big Capital – never mind Bernie – ever care about anything but the bottom line?
    Let’s just remember that there’s been a proxy war against Iran going on for many years now and Bahrain is just one of the minor periodic eruptions. The Battle of Karbala started in 680 AD and is nowhere near finished yet.

  7. I noticed perhaps a small typo in the second paragraph, “…appalling treatment by the Saudi regime to detainees.” Perhaps that was to be Bahraini / Khalifa regime?

    In any case, this regime’s atrocious oppression of their Shia majority is a horrible embarrassment to mankind.

    Thank you for this appropriate article.

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