F1 races whilst the Bahraini brutality is on the rise


This man decided to join a peaceful protest. He is now dead.

WARNING. This article contains graphic content and images

As TJ13 revealed yesterday, the life of the majority of citizens in Bahrain has taken a turn for the worse in recent times. Much was promised following the uprising in 2011, but it appears little has been delivered. In fact the circumstances for the majority of the kingdom’s population have deteriorated.

The ruling Al Khalifa family’s security forces are raping detainees, torturing them by slowly burning them with cigarettes and even shooting them at close range with tear gas weapons causing permanent brain damage from which the victims are now in long term comas.

The self appointed King of the kingdom, Sheikh Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifah, was presented with an independent report in 2011 of the atrocities which had taken place during the uprising. This was read to him whilst he sat on red and gold state throne and the audience before him numbered some 1,000 people.

Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifah promised Bahrain would never again suffer “intimidation and sabotage. Nor do we want, ever again, to discover that any of our law enforcement personnel have mistreated anyone.”

He promised reforms would be sweeping and that there would be protection of freedom of speech and human rights.

“We do not want ever again to see civilians tried anywhere else but in ordinary courts,” Al Khalifah remarked.

This was meant to be a new dawn for Bahrain, the King even stated he would sack any agent of the state who had abused their position.

Four years on, F1 rides into town and many of the circus members have been making a big deal on social media of how beautiful the paddock is. Possibly the most attractive of all paddocks they visit, remarked one.

But just because the discontent of 2011 is invisible, does not mean it has gone away.

In direct opposition to what the King stated he would do, freedom of speech in Bahrain is crushed at every move. Public protests in Bahrain’s capital have been banned for nearly two years.

Even outside Manama, security forces frequently use tear gas and bird shot pellets to disperse anyone who dares to demonstrate, often resulting in protesters being injured or even killed.

Criticising the authorities on Twitter or other social media sites will land you in jail.

The Bahraini authorities often use broad national security charges such as “inciting hatred against” or “threatening to overthrow the government”, “insulting” the King and other official institutions against activists and others who post comments critical of their policies on social media.

If authorities don’t like the work of an organization, they just shut it down. New laws recently introduced allow the Bahraini government to suspend or summarily disband by force any political association for alleged “irregularities”.

For the many who end up in detention, torture is commonplace. Amnesty International have documented dozens of cases of detainees being brutally beaten, deprived of sleep and adequate food, burnt with cigarettes, sexually assaulted, electrocuted, including on the genitals, and burnt with an iron to try and force them to “confess” to crimes. One such detainee reported he was struck with the claw of a hammer on several parts of his body. Another said he was raped by having a plastic pipe inserted into his anus.

And if none of that works, the government will just revoke someone’s nationality. Authorities in Bahrain usually resort to revoking the nationality of people considered to be a government opponent. Without nationality, individuals are forced to leave the country, even if they have nowhere else to go. Many of those whose nationality was revoked were rendered effectively stateless.

TJ13 is aware of a number of individuals who work in F1 and usually travel to race weekends, who have requested to be excused from the Bahrain GP weekend. To date we are aware of just one who subsequently was ‘relieved of their responsibilities’ and thankfully in most cases, the teams respect these decisions.

So Formula One fans, maybe some of us will remember all this, when we watch the most expensive cars on earth racing around a less than average track design, and see the Bahraini elite, presented to us as benevolent friends of Formula One.

These people all joined peaceful protests in Bahrain. 2 of them are now dead.


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25 responses to “F1 races whilst the Bahraini brutality is on the rise

  1. Very disturbing piece Andrew.
    Don’t expect things will change too quickly whether or not F1 stays or goes – not that I can even envisage them going, presently. CVC needs all the help it can get in pressing forward with venues of whatever known repute.
    That Wrigleys fellow will be along shortly to reassure us all…….

  2. Just to add a counter-balance to the clearly biased reporting of the state of events in Bahrain; apparently, the situation is as bad, or worse, in Australia, and the like. We shouldn’t judge, nor report, as there is no where that has achieved civil perfection; so why hold Bahrain to a higher (read, ‘any’) standard? Just disgusting, western drivel.

    (I am being sarcastic for anyone of the dense persuasion that didn’t read the exchange yesterday here. I couldn’t help myself.)

    On a serious note, well done to the author.

    • “…. apparently, the situation is as bad, or worse, in Australia, …”

      Yes, Australia, the country where the land was stolen from the Aboriginals and is now rules by colonialist settlers.
      Yes, Australia, where even today the rights of the Aboriginals are abused:
      ” …. “There is nothing wrong with my baby. Why are you doing this to us? I would’ve been hung years ago, wouldn’t I? Because [as an Aboriginal Australian] you’re guilty before you’re found innocent.” The child’s grandmother demands to know why “the stealing of our kids is happening all over again”. A welfare official says, “I’m gunna take him, mate.”

      This happened to an Aboriginal family in outback New South Wales. It is happening across Australia in a scandalous and largely unrecognised abuse of human rights that evokes the infamous stolen generation of the last century. Up to the 1970s, thousands of mixed-race children were stolen from their mothers by welfare officials. The children were given to institutions as cheap or slave labour; many were abused.

      Described by a chief protector of Aborigines as “breeding out the colour”, the policy was known as assimilation. It was influenced by the same eugenics movement that inspired the Nazis. In 1997 a landmark report, Bringing Them Home, disclosed that as many 50,000 children and their mothers had endured “the humiliation, the degradation and sheer brutality of the act of forced separation … the product of the deliberate, calculated policies of the state”. The report called this genocide.

      Assimilation remains Australian government policy in all but name. Euphemisms such as “reconciliation” and “Stronger Futures” cover similar social engineering and an enduring, insidious racism in the political elite, the bureaucracy and wider Australian society. When in 2008 prime minister Kevin Rudd apologised for the stolen generation, he added: “I want to be blunt about this. There will be no compensation.” The Sydney Morning Herald congratulated Rudd on a “shrewd manoeuvre” that “cleared away a piece of political wreckage in a way that responds to some of its own supporters’ emotional needs, yet changes nothing”. …. “

      • @PK – A very passionate response. Maybe you could have raised these issues when we were in Australia – but then again you probably don’t care that much. This is a chaff deployment – as suggested yesterday – typifies someone who is trying to muddy the waters.

        Again. No country is perfect. I’m sure our editor in chief understands THIS weekend is the Bahrain GP. I get his point. The same people authorising the brutality, organise the race, walk the grid – they are the source of the problem, and F1 has unprecedented access to them.

      • The best part about our exchange, so far that is, is that since your very original, “go on Judge, write another one, I dare you. Don’t forget ISIS though”, comment a few days ago, your subsequent comments have been immensely revealing, in and of themselves.

        They really don’t need to me to speak to the nature of said comments, and the obvious disingenuity behind them. I have trust in the intellect of “Joe Average” that reads this site. It is not being argued that other countries are whiter than white. Though you know that, of course. But the fact you have a clear desire to avoid the facts in Bahrain and align their issues, and reporting of said issues, with the indisputable fact that other countries don’t have a history filled with roses and honey will only attract those in here with an inability to reason and see through your comments.

        There are not many of those here, if any, but even if there were, to that I would say, “you can have them”. Have a joyous day.

      • @PK The article you plagiarized was written by John Pilger. You should point out that you have added nothing to his thoughts.
        The problems in the relationships between the Indigenous of colonized countries and the balance of the citizenry goes back centuries, the example given in a 200 word newspaper article really can’t give light to the advances that have been made in the aboriginal peoples position. The Indigenous couldn’t read the treaties they signed and in many cases they were cheated, what they signed was not what was agreed too or treaties were ignored when convenient. Colonized lands were settled, private ownership ensued, the pioneers enslaved, killed or isolated the indigenous (most were actually killed by disease) and the conquers idea of societies were formed. Today, in hindsight, the errors of the past are clear and most of the affected governments are trying to deal with the problems. 150 years since slavery in the US was abolished yet systemic problems still exist. The situation is the same for most nations trying to balance the relationship with Indigenous populations. It is tough to correct the mistakes of your forefathers.

        There is nothing to compare between the situation in Bahrain and the problems between the governments and the Indigenous in any of the democratic, colonized countries. Aboriginal people can protest, openly berate their government, publish, hold political office, educate their children, own land. They can work to change the system without being tortured, expelled or murdered.

  3. “and see the Bahraini elite, presented to us as benevolent friends of Formula One.”

    And all of a sudden the smirking comrade Putin springs to mind, engaged in brotherly love with Bernie (our own emperor with no clothes) and Jean (our very own impotent Little Jean). Bring on Baku!

    And who is next CVC? Has Donald Mackenzie already contacted Bashar al-Assad for a prospective Syrian GP? Or perhaps ISIL, for a GP of the Caliphate?

  4. Interesting and quite shocking (in terms of the brutality)piece. However, let’s not forget F1 also goes to countries where bombing children in their beds via drones is acceptable behaviour and brushed under the carpet (USA), a country where if you’re a paedophile who’s rich or in Government then “nothing ever happened” (UK), a country that would rather host a world cup it can’t afford than improve the lives of its own people (Brazil), a country where women have less rights than household pets and people are beheaded for ridiculous crimes (United Arab Emirates) and so on. Whilst it is terrible what’s happening in Bahrain my point is if F1 stopped going to countries who have some dodgy politics, there’d be nowhere for the sport to go to.

    I don’t see F1 going there as two fingers up to the citizens of the country. They rightfully don’t get involved. How Bernie sleeps at night accepting money off these people is another story entirely, but at least F1 going there puts the people’s plight in Bahrain in the media for a bit. This is probably the only the powers that be might change.

    • China too isn’t really a place where you go if you enjoy human rights. Nor is Russia the best match you can have.

    • The arguments you use are a little cynical. Bombing children in their beds is not an acceptable behavior in the US, and that’s why the military does not often come clean about it unless someone blows the whistle.

      The big issue is that neither the US or Britain brutally oppress their own population in order to avoid an outright state of a civil war. And this is where F1 goes racing. Imagine if F1 went racing into South Africa in 1980s while mumbling something like “we don’t get involved in politics, it’s just racing/business for us”

      • Maybe you should ask some of the population in Ferguson, Missouri if they don’t feel oppressed by the their own Government?
        I see your point but how can you justify it by claiming it is cynical because it wasn’t happen against their own people? If anything they’re the worst oppressors in the world, thinking they’re the Police of it. “Hey, we’re liberating you by bombing the sh*t out of your country!” Please explain the logic behind that? Just because they aren’t bombing their own people does not make them any better than the Bahraini’s.

        You’re right again about them not bringing a state of civil war to their countries, the UK and US have just been starting illegal wars on other people’s soil, I guess that’s ok though, as nobody has ever proven that, so in your logic it doesn’t really matter and can be ignored.

    • You really need to spend a great deal of time actually living in these countries before jumping on such bandwagons. And you really need to think for yourself before even considering something pinched from another equally biased article and placed on here as some form of gospel

      Come back here one you have lived and learned out in the Middle East for 20 years and you will have a hugely different perspective.

      A simple question – you have seen the mess made of regime change… Do you really think changing one benign and entitled (no he is not self appointed) dictator who has dragged a dirt poor country with 500,000 residents, a lot of rock, and absolutely no huge oil reserves into the 20th century for the complete infiltration by fundamentalist ISIS types (Bahrain allows alcohol for instance – imagine that round at the local Isis coffee shop)? Or flooding by immigration of other nationals when you are gradually forcing your existing nationals to actually learn useable real life current day skills? Or any of the usual dangers such as Kuwait and Saudi endured by allowing everyone else to do the work and their own people to do very little until someone like Saddams thinks I will have a bit of that? Any of this a really good thing you think.

      Or take some time about sweeping changes?

  5. Hypocrites is the word that comes to mind.
    To those who wish to boycott Bahrain, remember the link with McLaren (never mind the other links UK has with Bahrain):

    As for brutality, it is easy to find examples anywhere if you look for them:
    Killings in London:

    or killings in US

    or how about showing the other side Bahrain, here are some examples of the “peaceful” protesters:




    and there are many more such examples if you want to write an even-handed report.

    • …and there are many more such examples if you want to write an even-handed report.

      An idea, if I may, Mr. PK…

      Perhaps you could write said “even-handed” report for not only me, but the TJ13 community as a whole. You have a “voice of the fans” platform, thanks to The Judge, and despite people like you making me (briefly) question the merits of Freedom of Speech, I would genuinely like to be illuminated.

      Your take (Sunni take?) on the modern state of affairs across the globe in terms of atrocities still being acted out by governments on their people, in conjunction with the countries you believe are still currently perpetrating the highest crime of hypocrisy, would be of great interest to me, and I am sure, many others.

      I’d love to read the logic as to why being a citizen of, for example, the UK, would be worse than say, being a citizen of – oh I don’t know – Rwanda. This would be based of course on the fact that during medieval England the treatment of the peasants, and the resulting Peasants’ Revolt of 1381, should preclude the modern British people from judging and/or reporting on any atrocities in a place like Rwanda. Again, just an example of how the logic may flow…

      Just like, I suppose, how Australia is, or should be, aligned with modern Bahrain, because of Captain Cook – that bastard – despite the desire of hundreds of thousands of people floating on nothing greater than glorified drift wood, for weeks on end, through shark infested waters in order to get to the global atrocity that is Australia (and positively many getting in). I think we could benefit from your take on the other hypocritical (western?) counties.

      Would you please start with the U.S… It’s always an easy target and I do so enjoy a touch, just a touch, of yank bashing. It’s my guilty little pleasure you see. Like caramelised figs. But not too much, we don’t want the NSA onto us, do we? Oh and don’t forget the Germans, WW2 being the easiest atrocity that should preclude them from calling into question events in – oh let’s see – modern Syria?

      I await your bomb of exquisite, even-handed logic and knowledge. Something us “hypocrites” are clearly unable to do.


    • Before I even watch these videos, who owns BahNews.com and Bahrain and how about alJazeera?
      Linking to a Google search does not count as a reasoned argument.

  6. That pic is from 2011 when aisan immigrants were attacked by goverment protestors. I’m not asuming at all the Bahraini government are angels when it comes to the treatment of thier citizens, just that pic is rather misleading in that its implying this man was attacked and kiled by Bahraini government forces when it appears that is not the case.

    • I believe one of the more graphic pictures from the bottom of the article was selected first as the lead picture. However, it would be unfair for people to happen upon this without warning.

      Therefore an alternative – less graphic – image was selected – though nothing can properly convey the horrors of the reality to which the article makes reference.

  7. “This man decided to join a peaceful protest” .. ? Hardly, if he was attacked for being an Asian immigrant, Such discrepancies and an unrelated pic just make me as a reader potentially doubt claims and future claims sadly, and if government forces’ heavy-handedness is as such, then it shouldn’t be difficult to source a related pic/event to what’s being portrayed here, although I appreciate the essence of the message the article is portraying.

  8. Thank you writer and to all is there a problem to raise our voice peacefully to the world that we are suffering here in bahrain and we are looking for a better state which respect humanity rights and freedom

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