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Bahrain racing in circles – A Time for Social Media Action

One way to support Bahrain;s imprisoned photographers will be through a F1 campaign we just launched with Reporters Without Borders. We’re using a tool called Thunderclap, which helps create a social media flash mob at a predetermined time – in this case, for the starting gun of the race on April 6. We want to make sure the government cannot hide its press and human rights violations behind F1. Thunderclap will help us get thousands of tweets to be posted simultaneously about press freedom right when the race begins. Please sign up on “thunder-clap” to make your voice heard via twitter. https://www.thunderclap.it/projects/10068-bahrain-racing-in-circles

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Bahrain racing in circles
By Jason Stern – CPJ – 22 March, 2014

Thursday, the official Bahrain News Agency announced the “final 30-day countdown [to] the Formula One extravaganza” to take place the first week of April. Every year the race acts as a lightning rod for criticism of the Bahraini government, which seeks to use high-profile international events like the F1 to gloss over human rights violations in the country.

So perhaps it’s all too predictable that another journalist was arrested in Bahrain only a few hours before the BNA article went to press. Freelance photojournalist Sayed Baqer Al-Kamil was arrested at a checkpoint west of Manama sometime in the early morning hours, according to news reports and his colleagues. It is not clear why he was arrested, but Al-Kamil has meticulously documented the protest movement in Bahrain.

In another recent case, Bahraini security forces arrested photographer Sayed Ahmed Al-Mosawi and his brother in a house raid the morning of February 10, according to news reports. Al-Mosawi was transferred to the Dry Dock prison after several days of interrogation about his work. The journalist, who has won international recognition for his photographs, told his family in a phone call from prison that he had been tortured through beatings and electrocution, according to the Bahrain Center for Human Rights.

Al-Kamil and Al-Mosawi join at least three other journalists behind bars in Bahrain, the second worst country in the world for journalists imprisoned per capita, according to CPJ research.

The arrests also come as at least four journalists were injured in street violence, with political tensions simmering around the third anniversary of the February 14, 2011, opposition protests.

On March 3, a photographer for the English-language Gulf Daily News was injured in an explosion targeting three policemen in Daih village, the paper reported. Ebrahim Al Sinan, who was standing 10 meters from the blast, sustained a lung injury and shrapnel wounds. The journalist was taken to Bahrain Defence Force Hospital for treatment. Gulf Daily News’s Deputy Editor Robert Smith told CPJ that Al Sinan was released from the hospital on March 4.

The blast came as Al Sinan was covering clashes between riot police and protesters from a funeral procession of a Bahraini inmate who died last month in custody. The government said the inmate, Jaffar Al-Durazi, died from complications of sickle cell anemia, but opposition groups said he was subjected to torture and medical negligence.

It is not clear who carried out the attack on the security forces, with at least two groups claiming responsibility on Facebook, according to Bahrain scholar Marc Owen Jones. Bahrain’s major opposition and human rights groups condemned the attack and urged Bahrainis to end the cycle of violence.

In a photograph of the attack captured by EPA photojournalist Mazen Mahdi, riot police grimace from tear gas as one of their comrades lay wounded in the street. A few days prior, on February 26, Mahdi accused the police of aiming deliberately at journalists after he had been shot in the leg by a teargas canister while covering protests in Daih. He was not seriously injured. …more


Break The Shame, Break The Silence, Break The Chains, NO Bloody F1 Race in Bahrain


That this House opposes the staging of the 2014 Bahrain Grand Prix

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BAHRAIN FORMULA ONE GP 2014

Session: 2013-14
Date tabled: 17.03.2014
Primary sponsor: Clark, Katy
Sponsors: Corbyn, Jeremy – Dobson, Frank – Leech, John – McDonnell, John – Huppert, Julian

That this House opposes the staging of the 2014 Bahrain Grand Prix due to ongoing human rights violations in that country; notes that Human Rights Watch’s 2014 World Report highlighted that Bahrain’s human rights record regressed in key areas in 2013 drawing particular attention to arbitrary detention, ill-treatment and torture of activists, prosecution and harassment of government critics and a failure to hold those guilty of human rights abuses to account; expresses deep concern that in previous years Bahrain has implemented a severe crackdown before and during the Grand Prix, restricting freedom of movement of persons in the country, detaining and deporting foreign journalists and conducting mass arbitrary detentions in towns close to the Formula 1 circuit; recalls with concern that previous Grand Prix have coincided with the extrajudicial killing of protester Salah Abbas in 2012 and the arbitrary imprisonment and alleged sexual abuse in custody of protester Rihanna al Mousawi in 2013; further expresses disappointment at the continued failure to hold security forces to account for these abuses, as well as the arrest, detention and torture of 27 employees of the Bahrain International Circuit in 2011; and urges the Government to make strong representations to try and prevent the 2014 Bahrain Grand Prix from going ahead. …more


Al Khalifa Regime victims languish in Bahrain Prisons while guests celebrate Formula One

Al Khalifa Regime Victims languish in Bahrain's Prison While World enjoy the Royal Formula One
12 March, 2014

The Bahrain F.1. Race will take place on April 6th 2014 in flood lit conditions. This is appropriate as it will mask the reality of life for Bahrain’s citizens behind the glitz of the F.1.

3500 people are detained in overcrowded cells with inadequate water for drinking and washing, poor food, no medical care and no winter clothes. Homes are attacked without warrant at night to pick up suspects and intimidate the community.

After the 2013 F.1. 60 people were detained, including Rihana al Mousawi, who was tortured, stripped and exposed in public. Over 1000 detainees are children who are regularly abused.

Torture is systemic although the Minister of the Interior says there is no torture and the Jordanians are experts. Two young photographers, Sayed Ahmed Al Mousawi and Mohamed al Orabi were both tortured for six days in February, hung on doors, electrocuted and sexually abused. Should the international sporting community be running a high profile race that supports the Khalifa regime?

Mohamed Mirza’s case shows what happens to peaceful opponents of the regime.

Mohamed was arrested on 27th June 2012 after being on the run for eight months. He was convicted in absentia for illegal gathering and vandalising a police car in November 2011, 24th January 2012 and May 2012. His total sentence was 2.5 years. Illegal gathering means nothing in Bahrain – you can be watching a march and get detained.

Mohamed is seriously ill. He was hit by birdshot, beaten when he arrested and has problems with his sight as his eyes were sprayed with incendiary material. His hearing and teeth were affected by torture. He finally went to a specialist at Salmaniya Hospital in September 2013 about his back who recommended a CT Scan and a medical brace. Nothing has happened. There is ONE DOCTOR for 800 men in Mohamed’s building.

The case against Mohamed was dismissed by the Appeal Court Judge in August 2013. But the Samaheej police station won’t release him. He was due to leave prison this month but another trumped up charge will keep him in Jaw Prison until October 2014. The police may then accuse him of another crime to illegally detain him. Mohamed is jus one example of the Bahraini prisoners, denied a fair trial and sentenced on the basis of unseen confessions after torture.

The FI is an opportunity to put on some pressure to improve conditions for the prisoners.
Please contact the F.I. Sponsors – Gulf Air, Renault, Mercedes, Ferrari, Lotus, McClaren and Cosworth. Approach the drivers and suggest they should not be racing in Bahrain with its terrible Human Rights record. All the drivers should state they will boycott the race unless human rights improve. Please act.


Red Bull Revs Up for Blood Sport in Bahrain

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Formula 1 – Red Bull hit yet more testing trouble in Bahrain
Reuters – 21 February, 2014 – eurosport.com

Australian Daniel Ricciardo managed just 28 laps at the Sakhir circuit before the team decided to suspend running to prepare the car for the final day of the second pre-season test on Saturday.

Red Bull, winners of the last four drivers’ and constructors’ titles with Sebastian Vettel, have struggled to get their Renault-powered car running reliably while Mercedes and Ferrari-powered rivals have been getting in the laps.

Vettel did 59 laps on Thursday, more than twice as many as the team had managed in all five previous days of testing in Spain and Bahrain, but the gremlins returned for his new Australian team mate.

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Ricciardo did his best to sound positive, however, and said the car was definitely making progress.

“It’s coming together bit by bit. We’d love a big chunk all at once but obviously that’s not the way these things work, so we have to be a bit patient for now,” he said.

The team’s race engineering co-ordinator Andy Damerum said the mechanics had their work cut out and explained that the mechanical issue was not one the team had experienced previously. …more

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