Rights groups condemn F1’s “double standard” for racing in Bahrain amidst “continued institutionalized repression”

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  • 27 NGOs have written to Formula 1 (F1) CEO, Stefano Domenicali, to raise human rights concerns ahead of the Bahrain Grand Prix this weekend;

  • The letter raises concerns over F1’s recent decision to reward Bahrain with what was termed the longest race contract deal ever signed “despite continuing serious human rights abuses […] and political repression in Bahrain”;

  • Rights groups criticised F1 for its “failure to engage with civil society and acknowledge rights abuse in Bahrain” and highlighted the case of Bahraini political prisoner, Dr Abduljalil AlSingace, who’s been on hunger strike for over 250 days and who was arrested 11 years ago this week (17 March 2011). His strike was raised with Lewis Hamilton in November;

  • Rights groups praised F1’s cancellation of its race in Russia but condemned the company for creating a “clear double standard” regarding Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates’ (UAE) participation in the war in Yemen, stating there is “one rule applied for victims of war in Europe and another for victims in the Middle East”;

  • Their letter calls upon F1 to use its platform to secure redress for victims whose abuse was connected to their races, review their policy on racing in Gulf states in light of their participation in the war in Yemen, evaluate their contract with Bahrain and reconsider setting up an independent commission of experts to investigate abuses connected to F1’s activities in Bahrain;

  • Yesterday, Lewis Hamilton received a letter from activist and political prisoner in Bahrain, Ali AlHajee (read the Guardian coverage here);

  • Ahead of the Bahrain GP, the Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy (BIRD) wrote to F1 drivers, Sebastian Vettel, George Russell, Lando Norris and Max Verstappen to call on them to “stand against war everywhere” and “uphold the same standards” they applied in their public stances in support of Ukraine when it comes to victims in “Yemen, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia […] not only in Europe”.

15 March 2022 – 27 NGOs wrote to the CEO of Formula 1 (F1), Stefano Domenicali, to condemn the company’s “clear double standard” on Ukraine in comparison to Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and the UAE ahead of the Bahrain Grand Prix this weekend. Rights groups raised concerns over F1’s failure to engage with rights groups in spite of “continued institutionalized repression” in Bahrain, whilst calling on F1 to use their platform to secure redress for victims in Bahrain, reconsider their policy on racing in Gulf states due to their role in waging war in Yemen, and evaluate their contract with Bahrain, said the Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy (BIRD) and Americans for Democracy and Human Rights in Bahrain (ADHRB) today. 

Sayed Ahmed Alwadaei, Advocacy Director at the Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy, commented: Formula 1 must uphold values of peace and unity everywhere, particularly in the countries where they are racing. At present the F1 races in the Gulf are only enabling Bahrain and Saudi to sportswash their abysmal human rights records which continue to deteriorate. How long will F1 fans allow their sport to be exploited by abusive regimes? Rewarding Bahrain with one of the longest contracts in racing history speaks volumes about how they dismiss human rights concerns and prioritise profit. This hypocrisy must end.

Husain Abdullah, Executive Director of Americans for Democracy and Human Rights in Bahrain (ADHRB), commented: When Formula 1 finally adopted a human rights policy, it failed to make any meaningful impact on the victims who have suffered due to the staging of their races in the Gulf. We once again call upon F1 to refrain from sportswashing and to stand up for the victims of abuse and war in Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and Yemen once and for all, just as they have done in Ukraine.

Full letter can be read here

Take Action & Email Your MP to ask that they support the case of Dr Abduljalil AlSingace by signing EDM 107

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