Bahrain: Glitz of Formula One Grand Prix masks human rights abuses

This weekend Bahrain hosts the Formula One Grand Prix, a glamorous event putting the country in the international spotlight. Away from the racing circuit Amnesty International has continued to documented a range of appalling human rights violations.

“Behind the fast cars and the victory laps lies a government that is tightening its chokehold on any remnant of dissent in the country by stepping up arrests, intimidation and harassment of political opposition, critics and activists. The alarming erosion of human rights in Bahrain in recent years means that anyone who dares to criticize the authorities or call for reform risks severe punishment,” said James Lynch, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa.

“The modest reforms introduced after the 2011 uprising have demonstrably failed to live up to the hopes and promises they raised to protect and promote human rights.” Amnesty International is calling on the Bahraini authorities to mark the Grand Prix by immediately and unconditionally releasing all prisoners of conscience held solely for peacefully expressing their views.

Behind the fast cars and the victory laps lies a government that is tightening its chokehold on any remnant of dissent

James Lynch, Deputy Middle East and North Africa Director at Amnesty International

These include three prominent political opponents: Sheikh ‘Ali Salman, Ebrahim Sharif and Fadhel Abbas Mahdi Mohamed, as well as human rights activist Zainab Al-Khawaja, who was arrested and taken into custody on 14 March along with her baby son Hadi, to serve a prison sentence handed down after she tore up a photo of the King. Other political opponents arrested in 2011 still remain behind bars.

Other talking points include: • Continuation of repressive practices including restrictions on freedom of assembly and association. Demonstrations are banned in the capital, Manama
• Lack of accountability of the security forces involved in killings, torture and other ill-treatment
• Courts continue to hand down lengthy sentences after grossly unfair trials
• The increased use of extreme and unlawful measures to silence dissent such as banishing individuals from the country after revoking their citizenship

For more information see public statement here