Jenson Button: “I am sure what we see and what Bahrainis see is two very different things”

Last week, a group of NGOs, led by Americans for Democracy and Human Rights in Bahrain (ADHRB), launched a campaign to highlight human rights abuses ahead of the race.

The NGOs wrote to all the Formula One drivers asking them to “pledge their support for a free and just Bahrain by publicly condemning the ongoing human rights abuses”. Throughout the week, activists have been encouraged to contact the drivers on Twitter, using the hashtag #ReformsF1rst.

Speaking to The Guardian yesterday, Jenson Button, who races for McLaren, revealed that he had been following Twitter. He said:

I hear different things on Twitter and you cannot get away from it, but for us as a team and me as an individual, I have to believe the FIA are making the right call. We have 19 races around the world and I trust their decision not to put us in danger and it is the right thing to do.

I did not see anything last year. It is no different from 2004 in terms of what we see when we are here.

But I am sure that what we see and what the Bahrainis see is two very different things. We see the hotel, we drive to the circuit and we see the circuit. That’s it.

 

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Debating the Bahrain F1

Earlier today, Ahmed Shihab-Eldin hosted a discussion on the forthcoming Bahrain Grand Prix. The full segment can be watched at the Huffpost Live website.

The guests were:

NGOs launch campaign to highlight human rights abuses in Bahrain

A group of NGOs, led by Americans for Democracy and Human Rights in Bahrain (ADHRB), launched a campaign to “raise awareness of the ongoing human rights abuses in Bahrain”. From the press release:

ADHRB and participating organizations sent a letter to Formula One drivers asking them to pledge their support for a free and just Bahrain by publicly condemning the ongoing human rights abuses. Drivers are encouraged to state their support during interviews at the Grand Prix, publish a statement on their website, express their solidarity via social media, or publicly dedicate their race to one of the many prisoners of conscience still imprisoned in Bahrain.

“While in Bahrain, we hope that participants of the Bahrain Grand Prix will take the time to learn about the ongoing human rights abuses and arbitrary detention of prisoners of conscience,” said ADHRB Director Husain Abdulla. “Although the President of Formula One, Bernie Ecclestone, said that he received reports that everything is back to normal in Bahrain, it is clear that his information comes from unreliable sources,” Abdulla added. “The truth is that the Bahrain government has been engaged in many of the same abuses that the international community condemned it for after Bahrain’s security forces launched a brutal crackdown against peaceful protests in 2011.”

The letter was signed by ADHRB, along with International Federation for Human RightsFreedom HouseHuman Rights First, Just Foreign PolicyPhysicians for Human Rights, and the Project on Middle East Democracy. It includes a table with details on some of Bahrain’s prisoners of conscience. Drivers are invited to: “publicly dedicate your race to one of the many prisoners of conscience held under lock and key for exercising their rights to free speech, expression, association, and assembly.”

Alongside the letter, the NGOs also launched a Twitter campaign, encouraging people to tweet to the drivers, teams and other relevant people using the hashtag #ReformsF1rst. A spreadsheet of Twitter handles is available to download at this link.