US-based NGO Human Rights First has issued a further statement concerning the Bahrain F1 today, calling on “organisers, participants and sponsors to speak out urgently and publicly against arbitrary arrests and other human rights violations taking place”. The statement reads in part:
“F1’s continued silence in the face of increased government repression ahead of this weekend’s race could easily be seen as the organization’s complicity with the crackdown,” said Human Rights First’s Brian Dooley. “Local human rights activists can’t understand why the F1 teams and sponsors are not speaking out against the raids, arrests, and detentions that seem to be linked to the race. Their silence is horribly damaging to the reputation of the sport and those associated with it.”
Dooley notes that the F1 organization decided to hold the race in Bahrain this year over the objections of leading human rights figures in the country. In the days leading up to its kickoff, arbitrary arrests in neighborhoods near the track have increased and many human rights defenders have faced added government scrutiny. Local human rights activists estimate that over 60 people have been arrested in the week leading up to the race, many from villages near the track. Several protests have taken place against the F1 and more are expected in the coming days.
The BBC reported that today:
The Bahrain Centre for Human Rights said 13 people had been arrested and that clashes were continuing in villages close to the Sakhir track, the site of the F1 race.