Brian Dooley: “Bahrain is becoming even more repressive”

Brian Dooley, from Human Rights First, writes for The Atlantic:

The promoters of Bahrain’s Grand Prix urge you to “Imagine your moment.” It’s a great slogan. It’s supposed to reflect “the excitement from all Formula 1 fans… as well as all the memorable moments people create during the enjoyable time they have at the race.”

The Bahrain Grand Prix will occur later this month despite the controversy of holding the race amid a fierce government crackdown on political dissent and increasingly violent protests. The 2011 race was cancelled due to the country’s turmoil, but last year’s Grand Prix went on anyway.


Bahrain’s rulers are invested financially and psychologically in the F1. It brings international prestige to the tiny kingdom, where the ruling family keeps tight control of power and the king’s uncle has been the unelected prime minister for over 40 years. The Bahraini Mumtalakat Holding Company, which boasts several members of the ruling family on its board of directors, co-owns McLaren, one of the leading F1 teams.


Now it seems that fresh human rights violations are being committed in anticipation of the race, presumably to dissuade protests. One woman told me masked men had seized one of her family members in a dawn raid a few days ago without an arrest warrant. “We live so close to the track we can hear the cars racing. Masked men came and took him and we’ve heard nothing since about his whereabouts or what the charge is. He was taken because of this F1.”

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