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Bahrain: Torture Victims File Legal Complaint against Formula One

2022-10-28 - 10:18 p

Bahrain Mirror: Najah Yusuf and Hajer Mansoor, who were allegedly tortured after protesting Formula One's Grand Prix in the kingdom, have filed a legal complaint against the company saying it has breached the human rights standards it pledged to follow, the Middle East Eye website reported.

Najah Yusuf, Hajer Mansoor and the UK-based Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy (Bird), which is also party to the complaint, contend that F1 failed to conduct human rights due diligence before Bahrain was awarded the longest contract in the company's history in February.

The complaint was lodged on Wednesday with the UK National Contact Point (UK NCP), which is part of the UK's international trade department and handles allegations of British firms breaking guidelines of the intergovernmental Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.

Yusuf, who was allegedly imprisoned and tortured for three years following her social media criticism of F1, said in a statement on Thursday that she was "heartbroken" by F1's inaction. 

"My life was changed forever by this race. To see my letters ignored by F1 is heartbreaking. I need their help in getting justice. It seems like they only care about profits," Yusuf said. 

Yusuf  alleges that despite attempts by the Bahraini government to use the event to "sportwash" the kingdom's image, human rights abuses by authorities suppressing protests spike each year when the Grand Prix is held.

Mansoor said in a statement she was taking a personal risk participating in the complaint. "My son is currently serving an arbitrary prison sentence over fabricated charges, partly as a reprisal for his brother-in-law's human rights work, which included engaging with Formula One," she said. 

"For them to now fail to even acknowledge our letter adds insult to injury and their disregard for human rights."

F1 established a human rights policy following similar legal action by Bahraini rights advocates. Current complainants say F1 is failing to implement that policy or respond to their correspondence.

Yusuf, a former civil servant and mother of four who lives in Bahrain, condemned F1 and the Bahraini government in a 2017 Facebook post, calling the Grand Prix "nothing more than a way for the al-Khalifa family to whitewash their criminal record and gross human rights violations," referring to the island kingdom's ruling royal family.

Yusuf says she was assaulted, tortured and imprisoned for three years following the post and only released by royal pardon in August 2019 after international pressure.

Mansoor was arrested, allegedly tortured and imprisoned in connection with her protest activities and over charges she planted fake bombs. She has long denied the charges and supporters believe she was held as reprisal for the protest activities of her son-in-law, Sayed Ahmed Al-Wadaei, who is the director of Bird. Mansoor's son and Al-Wadaei's brother-in-law, Sayed Nizar Al-Wadaei, is serving an 11-year prison sentence. He was arrested at the age of 18 and like his mother, he was convicted on charges he planted fake bombs.

The Bahraini embassy in London did not respond to MEE's request for comment.

The Bahrain F1 Grand Prix is scheduled to be held in March 2023.

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