Bahrain: Fears of renewed government crackdown ahead of Grand Prix
2 April, 2014 – Amnesty International
As the eyes of the sporting world turn to Bahrain’s Formula One Grand Prix this weekend, Amnesty International urges the country’s authorities not to quash peaceful protests surrounding the event.
The Formula One racing tournament is due to take place in Bahrain from 4-6 April. In previous years, the authorities have taken severe repressive measures against pro-reform demonstrators, activists opposed to the Royal family and human rights campaigners during the event.
“Bahrain’s authorities must not repeat past mistakes by restricting freedom of movement or crushing protests. The rights of people in Bahrain to peacefully to express their opposition to government policies and voice human rights concerns are legitimate and must be respected,” said Said Boumedouha, Deputy Director of the Middle East and North Africa Program at Amnesty International.
Opposition activists calling for a boycott of the Grand Prix have already been branded “traitors” by the government. There are fears that the authorities may use recent unrest, including terror attacks on police, to justify imposing further restrictions during the Grand Prix, such as preventing people from leaving their villages and clamping down on peaceful protests.
During previous Grand Prix events, foreign and local journalists were barred from covering protests, with some deported from Bahrain for attempting to do so without permission.
“Rather than continuing to resort to security measures to deal with anti-government protests, Bahrain’s authorities should mark the Grand Prix by announcing concrete steps to address the dire state of human rights in the country,” said Said Boumedouha.
“Three years on from the 2011 uprising, Bahrain has seen only cosmetic changes and empty promises of reform. Arbitrary arrests, crackdowns on protests and torture in custody continue unabated. Using the Grand Prix to boost Bahrain’s public image is little more than a blatant attempt to gloss over mounting abuses with the hype of an international sporting event.”
Compounding ongoing abuses, there is also a complete absence of accountability for past violations, with a host of victims and their families still awaiting justice for killing and torture that occurred during previous Grand Prix events. …more