HRW Director Writes: F1 and "Racing to Repression in Bahrain"
2019-03-23 - 7:46 am
Bahrain Mirror: Human Rights Watch published on its website an article to Minky Worden, Director of Global Initiatives, in which she criticized holding Formula One race in Bahrain amid ignorance of blatant human rights violations in Bahrain, which some of them are related to the same sport.
The organization is launching a vast campaign against the Formula One, benefiting from the chaos caused by the case of the Bahraini player Hakeem Al-Araibi worldwide, and how it managed to move international sports bodies, led by the International Federation of Association Football (FIFA).
Worden said in her article entitled "Racing to Repression in Bahrain" that "Bahraini authorities enjoy these extravaganzas because they distract from their abysmal human rights situation. But Bahrain's true picture is of arrests, abuse, and torture of peaceful dissidents and members of the opposition and the Grand Prix cannot "sports-wash" this track record away."
"Next week, Formula One returns to Bahrain for its high-octane auto race, the Grand Prix. The race sparks protests year after year in Bahrain, as well as in other repressive host countries like Azerbaijan," she added.
The Director of Global Initiatives also said "The leaders of Formula One and its governing federation, the Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile (FIA) will be celebrating their race in Bahrain - a mere 20 kilometers away from the prison where Yousef is unjustly held. They could and should ask to meet her in prison."
Najah is an activist and mother of four. In June 2018, she was detained, tortured, and sentenced to three years in prison for her social media activity, including posts opposing Formula One because of the government's use of the race to whitewash repression.
Bahrain already tried to export repression beyond its own borders this year when it sought to extradite its former national football player and torture survivor Hakeem Al-Araibi from Thailand. After a global outcry the extradition bid failed, but Bahrain's abuses are a warning flag.
Minky Worden called on Formula One and FIA leaders should follow suit FIFA to ensure sports events don't contribute to human rights abuses. She said "it is time for Formula One to adopt and implement a human rights policy. And it should start by calling for Yusuf to be freed ahead of the Grand Prix race on March 31."