…from beneath the crooked bough, witness 230 years of brutal tyranny by the al Khalifas come to an end
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Excess, Vice and Greed mark third year of Eccelstone’s Grand Prix at expense of Protesters Blood

Protesters call for GP to be axed
17 April, 2013 – The Sun

A MAJOR anti-F1 protest is planned ahead of Sunday’s Bahrain Grand Prix.

Activists have even demanded the race be cancelled.

But F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone and FIA president Jean Todt insist it will go ahead as planned.

Khalil al Marzooq, a senior Al Wefaq leader, announced the demonstration and declared: “The government wants the world to believe the situation is normal.

“Bahrain is not normal. The only thing that is normal is the repression.”

A letter co-signed by four non-governmental organisations has been sent to Ecclestone and Todt.

The appeal came from the Bahrain Center for Human Rights, Bahrain Press Association, Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights, and the UK-based Campaign Against Arms Trade.

The letter read: “If the race went ahead it will be taking place in a country whose government continues to commit gross human rights violations, from arbitrary arrests to torture.

“Given the global controversy and public outcry, last year’s Bahrain Grand Prix was an embarrassment to the sport and all those who took part.

“The race was used by the Bahrain government to broadcast a false picture of normality. The situation in Bahrain has not improved since last year. If anything, it is getting worse.

“By continuing to race, Formula One is facilitating the culture of impunity through which the authorities have operated.

“We hope you do not repeat last year’s mistake. If you do, you will again be allowing a repressive regime to hijack your sport for political purposes.” Todt is not expected to attend the Grand Prix at the Bahrain International Circuit in Sakhir.

However, he responded to the letter by saying: “I take note of your concerns.

“It is our firm belief that sport, and the F1 Grand Prix, can have a positive and healing effect in situations where conflict, social unrest and tensions are causing distress.” …more

April 18, 2013   No Comments

Bloody F1 circuit meets it’s demise – Anonymous hacks Montreal F1 data

Anonymous hacks F1 data, threatens ticket holders
31 May, 2012 – ctvmontreal.ca

MONTREAL — Anonymous seems to have followed through with its threat to target next week’s Formula One race, with the personal information of 131 ticket holders being leaked by the hacker collective late Wednesday.

Angered by the emergency legislation passed by the Charest Liberals on May 18, Anonymous has been linked to a wave of attacks that has overwhelmed websites operated by the Quebec government. In recent days, it turned its attention to the June 8 Grand Prix weekend.

Threatening to “wreck anything F1-related,” the activist group released the names, email addresses and phone numbers of the ticket holders.

In a post accompanying the data, the group warned, “Today, Anonymous reminds us of the importance of sportsmanship, which you have debased with your corrupt and authoritarian society.”

According to some of the individuals targeted by the hacker group, they were sent personal emails by Anonymous warning them to avoid attending the race. Citing earlier protest against an F1 race in Bahrain, the group threatened to upend the race, expected to be attended by as many as 300,000.

Coming after over 100 days of protests against a plan by the ruling Liberal Party to raise tuition by 82 per cent, the hacker group has pledged to attack the province due to the “lack of respect for people’s equality and liberty.” Thousands have been arrested in nightly protests and under Bill 78, spontaneous protests are all but banned. …more

May 31, 2012   No Comments

Bahrain Grand Prix Has a Winner, and It’s Not Arab Monarchies

Bahrain Grand Prix Has a Winner, and It’s Not Arab Monarchies
By Nicholas Noe & Walid Raad – 23 April, 2012 – Bloomberg

Having been relegated to the minor headlines in both the Arab and Western media, the anti-government protests in the tiny Persian Gulf nation of Bahrain finally had their moment this weekend.

With foreign journalists and other outsiders descending on the island country for Sunday’s Grand Prix race, critics of the monarchy stepped up their activities to take advantage of the audience, while government forces responded as they have all along — with a strong arm. One activist was found shot dead on a roof, raising suspicions he may have been targeted by security forces. More than 50 protestors and several policemen have been killed since anti-government protests started in February 2011 in Bahrain, which has a population of 1.2 million.

In an editorial, the London-based, Palestinian-owned Al-Quds al-Arabi wrote: “The Formula 1 race generated results that went completely against the government’s wishes.” The concurrent protests “allowed the whole world to see that Bahrain is not as stable as the government is promoting and that it features a strong opposition demanding legitimate democratic change.”

On the other hand, commentators writing for newspapers supportive of Bahrain’s King Hamad Bin Isa Al Khalifa, as well as some other papers financed by Gulf governments, didn’t see what the big deal was. They expressed exasperation that other media, including the Qatari-owned Al-Jazeera website and TV network, had devoted so much attention to the unrest.

Writing in the Bahraini daily Akhbar al-Khaleej, columnist Muhammad Mubarak Jomaa wrote that it had become “clear that certain satellite channels had greatly escalated their campaign against Bahrain.” Their goal, he theorized, was to stop the Grand Prix race and thereby damage Bahrain. The scheme, he said, had two parts. “The first featured heated attempts to convince the participating teams and crews that taking part in the Bahrain race would be shameful.” When this failed, he wrote, there was an effort to scare off people with reports of unrest and possible violence directed against the race.

In his column, Jomaa’s editor, Anwar Abdul Rahman, went further, arguing that the “slanderous claims” in the Western and Arab media were nothing less than an “Iranian plan.” Bahrain’s opposition has pushed for greater rights for Shiites, who make up the majority of the country’s population but are ruled over by the minority Sunnis. Iran has historic ties to Bahrain and is dominated, politically and in terms of its population, by Shiites. Abdul Rahman’s piece did not explain how the Iranians would execute a plan through U.S., U.K. and Qatari media. …more

April 24, 2012   No Comments

Todt and Eccleston trampled every value of human decency, expect retribution – Grand Prix money is killing Bahrainis

Amnesty calls government reforms ‘flawed’ and calls to cancel Grand Prix grow louder


Protests Multiply as Bahrain Human Rights Abuses Continue

17 April, 2012 – Common Dreams staff

Pressure to cancel the upcoming Formula 1 ‘Grand Prix’ in Bahrain is mounting after a scathing report by Amnesty International called the ruling government’s recent “reform” efforts deeply “flawed” and amidst ramped up protests on Monday that occurred both inside and outside of the Middle East island nation. The race, which was canceled twice last year because of concerns about safety, is due to run Sunday.

Protesters gathered in Bahrain to show their anger against the planned Formula 1 race. (EPA) “With the world’s eyes on Bahrain as it prepares to host the Grand Prix, no-one should be under any illusions that the country’s human rights crisis is over,” said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Deputy Director. “The authorities are trying to portray the country as being on the road to reform, but we continue to receive reports of torture and use of unnecessary and excessive force against protests. Their reforms have only scratched the surface.”

Though F-1 officials have tried to claim that the auto race wants no part of the ‘political or moral arguments’ circulating in Bahrain, one unnamed protester told the Daily Mail that the race could not extract itself from the nation’s turmoil. “People here are getting killed,” he said, “and with F1 here we feel like they are driving on our blood, on our bodies.”

On Monday, two men climbed to the roof of the Bahraini Embassy in London to protest the continued imprisonment of pro-democracy advocates in their country. One of the men’s father has been held in detention by authorities, he claimed, but his only crime was “was to demand human rights and democracy.”

“People here are getting killed and with F1 here we feel like they are driving on our blood, on our bodies.” – Bahraini pro-democracy advocate

And in the Bahrain capital of Manama on Monday, government security forces fired tear gas to disperse protesting crowds as they gathered to express their outrage against the continued repression of the pro-democracy movement and against the race planned for the end of the week. …more

April 17, 2012   No Comments

Bahrain Grand Prix a “calculated risk” FIA President, Jean Todt

Todt finally talks about Bahrain GP as trouble between anti-government protestors and police flares in Gulf state
By Simon Cass – 16 April, 2012 – mail online

FIA president Jean Todt has broken his silence on the decision to press ahead with the Bahrain Grand Prix as more trouble flared between police and anti-government protesters in the troubled Gulf state.

Todt was equally tight-lipped on the subject of Bahrain last year, when the race was initially cancelled and subsequently postponed.

However, speaking to German television station RTL at Sunday’s Chinese Grand Prix, the head of world motorsports governing body insisted the race in Bahrain will pass off without incident.

‘It has a date on the calendar and was always planned,’ said Todt, whose failure to speak out on the subject had previously drawn widespread criticism.
Breaking his silence: Bernie Ecclestone (left) poses with Jean Todt in China

Breaking his silence: Bernie Ecclestone (left) poses with Jean Todt in China

‘There has been some controversy about it, but the FIA is a sports organization. We are only interested in sport – not politics.

‘Our responsibility is that people can go there and have good and secure conditions. This will be the case.

‘We have spoken in this regard with representatives of the government, with the embassies and with neighbouring countries, as well as with European foreign ministries.

‘We have made an extensive examination with a lot of checks. It is clear that the Grand Prix can go ahead.

‘At the moment, a major golf tournament is going ahead in Bahrain. On one hand, there are unpleasant political aspects as well, but it’s the same thing all over the world.

‘On the other hand, we are a sport. We are confident that the next Grand Prix will go ahead just as successfully as this one here in China.’

Tuesday’s trouble took place in Salmabad, six miles from the Bahraini capital Manama and around ten miles north of the Sakhir International Circuit.
Up in arms: Anti-government protesters shout as they march in a procession to visit the grave of Ismael Abdulsamad in the village of Salmabad

Up in arms: Anti-government protesters shout as they march in a procession to visit the grave of Ismael Abdulsamad in the village of Salmabad

The confrontation occurred on the third day of mourning for the death of local cameraman Ahmed Ismael Hassan Al Samadi and followed the now customary pattern of protesters hurling petrol bombs and rocks at the police who responded by firing tear gas into the crowd to disperse them.

Meanwhile, two activists climbed onto the roof of the Bahrain Embassy in London to protest about what they claim are continued human rights abuses in the Middle East country and the decision by Formula One’s power brokers not to cancel the race.

Bahrain International Circuit chairman Zayed R Alzayani has admitted to taking ‘a calculated decision’ with regard to the staging of the race.

‘We wouldn’t take a decision on a gamble,’ insisted Alzayani. ‘But it’s a calculated decision, we’ve weighed up our options and we are committed to the grand prix and to its success. I don’t think anything drastic will happen. It’s not Syria or Afghanistan.’ A

week ago seven policeman were injured, three seriously, by a petrol bomb and during a march on Friday three teenagers were shot as police attempted to disperse the more volatile demonstrators.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/formulaone/article-2130693/Todt-finally-talks-Bahrain-GP-trouble-anti-government-protestors-police-flares-Gulf-state.html#ixzz1sJ3JsDN0

April 17, 2012   No Comments

King Hamad “force feeds” hunger striker, Abdulhadi al-Khawaja, so F1 can run unimpeded by his death

editor: It is truly one of the most disturbing choices in Motor Sport history. Ecclestone, Webber and the F1 teams choose to attend a race while King Hamad “force feeds” Abdulhadi al-Khawaja, in the throws of death from Hunger Strike, so they can have their race unimpeded. People such as these are moral-less beings, their breach of morality is simply incomprehensible. Their stain on Bahrain’s Grand Prix can never be erased. Phlipn.

Bahrain Formula One Grand Prix to go ahead
AFP – 13 April 13, 2012

THE Bahrain Grand Prix will go ahead as scheduled according to motorsport’s world governing body.

The Federation Internationale de l’Automobile declared in a statement on its website that it had taken into account concerns over safety after more than a year of pro-democracy demonstrations in the Gulf state.

“Based on the current information the FIA has at this stage, it is satisfied that all the proper security measures are in place for the running of a Formula One World Championship event in Bahrain,” the statement said.

The event in Bahrain, scheduled for next weekend, was the hottest topic of conversation in Shanghai, which hosts the third grand prix of the season on Sunday.

The FIA and many drivers had earlier tried to get the focus back on the Chinese Grand Prix, but the fate of the Gulf race would not go away.
Rec Coverage 28 Day pass

“So, Bahrain?” Red Bull’s Australian driver Mark Webber said, unprompted, to open his media briefing.

“There’s no beating around the bush – it is sensitive out there,” he said, attempting to pick his words carefully.

“We can only go on what the FIA are reading into the situation and obviously we are putting in an enormous amount of trust – I don’t mean ‘we’ the drivers. I’m talking about you guys, photographers, caterers, everybody.”

The FIA last year postponed the Bahrain race before removing it from last season’s schedule over the demonstrations.

The Gulf state says the situation is calm and the race would be a chance for Bahrain to unite, but ongoing protests and violence, including a bomb attack on Monday that wounded seven policemen, had put the event in jeopardy again.

The teams were reportedly keen not to take part, but said they could not make the decision to cancel the race and were looking for the FIA to tell them what to do.

Webber, 35, said there were moral and safety considerations – demonstrators have claimed they will target the race – to take into account.

“It has been distracting. Trying to give a fair and correct position on Bahrain with you guys is something that I try to be fair with and you want to get that right.

“It’s an unusual position for a grand prix driver to be put in.”
…source

April 13, 2012   No Comments

Syria and Burma get Democracy, while Bahrain gets a Grand Prix

April 13, 2012   No Comments

Red Bull on for Bahrain’s Bloody F1 – Ahmed Ismail won’t be in attendance

When Ahmed was shot, he shouted and tried to run for about 20 feet until he fell. One of the protesters tried to help him walk from the scene until Ahmed fainted. Other youths gathered and carried him inside the village, taking him to a house where he had first aid before taking him to the hospital.


Ahmed lay mortally wounded after filming MOI plain clothes beating peaceful protester and then is him self killed in “drive by” assassination.

Ahmed attending previous Bahrain F1


Funeral March marks the death of Ahmed Ismail 13 April, 2012


And finally the attack on Ahmed’s mourners visiting graveside at the cemetery

April 13, 2012   No Comments

Appeal to “human decency” compells F1s, Damon Hill to rethink Bahrain Grand Prix

Yesterday, Damon Hill urged F1 bosses to rethink plans to hold this month’s Bahrain race. As detained activist Abdulhadi Al Khawaja nears the 60th day of his hunger strike, John Lubbock provides a devastating account of the regime’s ongoing abuses and denounces the UK’s tacit support and complicity. Unless we act fast, he warns, disaster awaits.


F1 urged to rethink Bahrain GP, as hunger striker nears death

John Lubbock – 6 APril, 2012 – CeaseFire

Yesterday’s media reports, suggesting that former Formula One world champion Damon Hill had changed his mind about the wisdom of bringing F1 back to Bahrain this month, after a year of unrest and human rights abuses, were yet another reminder that the Bahraini Spring was far from over. Hill was invited by the Bahrainis a few months ago so they could show him how everything was fine again, and he seemed to agree with them. Now after reading the latest reports, he has voiced fresh concern and said the Formula 1 authorities should think again.

The F1 Bahrain Grand Prix race, scheduled for 22 April, probably won’t get cancelled at such short notice, but if it goes ahead, there will likely be widescale repression going on behind the scenes to stop protesters getting anywhere near the racetrack. If anyone is killed as a result, it will be big news and bad for all Bahrainis. There is nothing in this to gloat about, but the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights has been warning of the possible consequences of holding the race since last year, and quite apart from this factor, it is just not right that a big international event should ignore ongoing human rights abuses and reward a dictator with such an important economic boon.

When I wrote an article with BCHR President Nabeel Rajab for The Guardian with our claims that staff at the Formula 1 circuit had been tortured on the premises by the chief of security, a PR firm immediately threatened legal action. We proved the claims to the satisfaction of The Guardian’s legal team and the PR firm backed down. It was yet another cowardly example of Bahrain’s rulers using their power to cow dissenting voices into silence. How many people did not give evidence to the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry because they were threatened?

Bahrain’s government keeps on repeating its mantra that “reform” is taking place, that things will take time, but that things are getting better. They claimed that there were no more cases of torture after the publication of the BICI report. And yet, two people died from torture in January alone. The Foreign Minister has said ‘there is no political prisoner in Bahrain’, despite Abdulhadi Alkhawaja being on hunger-strike to protest his life sentence for 57 days now. If he dies, Bahrainis will take to the streets and there will surely be widespread violence, both from frustrated youths and from the security forces. …more

April 8, 2012   No Comments

Bahrain Grand Prix a tragic wreck on the road to Democracy

March 28, 2012   No Comments

Brutal Bahraini King killing nearly one a day with lethal chemical gas attacks in lead up to Bahrain F1

Bahrain: Human rights violations continue ahead of F1 Grand Prix
27 March 2012 – BlottR

Last Tuesday, the Bahraini King claimed “significant and broad progress” toward reforms in a report following up earlier recommendations to correct widespread abuse committed during the government’s crackdown on pro-democracy protests last year. Less than a week later, the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights (BCHR) published a report challenging Hamad’s declarations whilst illustrating human rights violations committed in the Kingdom since the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry report (BICI).

In the report published on Monday, the BCHR listed 31 deaths since the BICI report, including 20 due to teargas suffocation. It said that several police officers have been put on “show trials”, but “none were officially charged with murder, but rather only for accidental death or beating that lead to death”. The BCHR also documented 266 arbitrary arrests in 2012, 3 reports of deaths by torture, 600 political prisoners and 100 cases of kidnappings.

Prof. Cherif Bassiouni, the former Chair of the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI) said in an interview to Al-Jazeera on March 15 that there had not been cases of torture in Bahrain since the BICI report last November. It did not take long for the opposition to react. Soon after, Ali Alaswad, a resigned Bahraini MP, wrote an open letter to Bassiouni, in which he criticized his claim and voiced his disappointment.

“You claim very clearly and confidently that since you and your fellow investigators entered Bahrain there have been no more allegations of torture and mistreatment. I must sadly inform you that this claim is false,” the letter read. “The fact that you cannot recognize this suggests that either you are being fed incorrect information that you are not verifying, or you are remaining willfully ignorant of the reality,” he added before saying, “In January there were two cases of deaths whilst in custody which can be attributed to torture. Since you are clearly not aware of these cases I shall report them to you now and I hope you can change your stance with immediate affect.”

Bassiouni replied to Alaswad with very few and very unconvincing arguments admitting not being aware of new cases of torture and justifying his lack of knowledge with the fact that his mission terminated when the report was published, which, coming from an international United Nations war crimes expert, often called “the Father of International Criminal Law”, is very unprofessional.

This new report comes as another blow for the Bahraini government which has repeatedly attempted to reinforce its image of unity and its capacity to inspire confidence and generate stability ahead of the Bahrain Formula One Grand Prix. Despite the government’s claims, the situation has barely improved, if not at all across the Kingdom and the reforms announced have so far been no more than statements. …more

March 27, 2012   No Comments

Dead Pedestrians Crossing – Eccelstone: “nothing to see here move along”

March 26, 2012   No Comments

Stop the Murders in Bahrain – Stop the F1 – Stop King Hamad – Don’t Come!

March 24, 2012   No Comments

82 Bahrainis Murdered by Kingdom of Bahrain, Your Sponsor of the Bahrain Grand Prix – Don’t Come

List of Martyrs of 14Feb revolution in Bahrain to date(14 February, 2011 – 24 March, 2012):

1- Martyr Ali Mushaima – 14 February 2011 – Killed by birdshot in Al Daih

2- Martyr Fadhil Salman Al Matrook – 15 February 2011 – Killed by birdshot during the funeral of martyr Ali Mushaima


3- Martyr Ali Mansoor Khudair – 17 February 2011 – Killed by birdshot during the first lulu attack


4- Martyr Mahmood Abu Taki – 17 February 2011 – Killed by birdshot during the first lulu attack


5- Martyr Ali Mo’men – 17 February 2011 – Killed near Lulu and left to die on the street
 near Al Gufool traffic lights

6- Martyr Isa Abdul Hussain – 17 February 2011 – Killed by splitting his head open near SMC.

7- Martyr A. Redha Bu Hameed – 22 February 2011 – Killed by live rounds near Lulu

8- Martyr Fadak Mushaima (infant) – 27 February 2011 – Born dead after her mother’s grief on relative martyr Ali Mushaima.

9- Martyr Ali Ebrahim Damistani – 13 March 2011 – Regime thugs chased him near Lulu in his car and he hit a barricade that they set up resulting in death


10- Martyr Ahmed Farhan – 15 March 2011 – Direct shot to the head split his head open in Sitra


11- Martyr Jafar Mohammed Salman – 16 March 2011 – Shot dead in the 2nd lulu attack
 by army

12- Martyr Ahmed Abdullah Al Arnoot – 16 March 2011 – Killed by birdshot in the 2nd lulu attack


13- Martyr Jafar Abdullah Al Ma’yoof – 16 March 2011 – Killed by birdshot in the 2nd lulu attack


14- Martyr Isa Radhi Al Radhi – 19 March 2011 – Tortured to death in Sitra

[Read more →]

March 24, 2012   No Comments

The money you spend on the Bahrain Grand Prix kills Bahrainis with bullets and lethal gassing – Please Stay Away!

March 24, 2012   No Comments

Siemens a Grand Prix Sponor with long history of support for Worlds most Notorious despots and tyrants

Siemens became involved in Formula 1 in 1998 as a partner of the McLaren F1 team and as a partner of Formula One Management.

Siemens. Siemens took slave laborers during the Holocaust and had them help construct the gas chambers that would kill them and their families. Good people over there.

Siemens also has the single biggest post-Holocaust moment of insensitivity of any of the companies on this list. In 2001, they tried to trademark the word “Zyklon” (which means “cyclone” in German) to become the name a new line of products… including a line of gas ovens.

Zyklon, of course, being the name of the poison gas used in their gas chambers during the Holocaust.

A week later, after several watchdog groups appropriately freaked out, Siemens withdrew the application. They said they never drew the connection between the Zyklon B gas used during the Holocaust and their proposed Zyklon line of products. (Source: BBC)

Nokia-Siemens Spy Tools Aid Police Torture in Bahrain
06 September, 2011

Spy tools sold and maintained by German communications and engineering giants Siemens and Nokia Siemens Networks are being used by authorities in Bahrain to aid in their interrogation and torture of human rights activists, according to Bloomberg Markets magazine.

The equipment is used by authorities there, and in other repressive regimes, to track the location of activists through their mobile phones and record their conversations and text messages, according to activists as well as workers at NSN and Trovicor (a divested unit of NSN) who installed the systems in several Middle East countries.

Abdul Ghani Al Khanjar, a 39-year-old school administrator and activist, was shown transcripts of his text messages by jailers who beat him with rubber hoses and used other torture methods during his detention between August 2010 and February 2011.

The systems are currently sold and installed by Trovicor, a business whose activities initially began in 1993 as a unit of Siemens’ voice- and data-recording division. In 2007, the unit became part of Nokia Siemens Networks, a joint venture between Siemens and Finland’s Nokia Oyj. In March 2009, NSN sold the unit, then known as Intelligence Solutions, to Perusa Partners Fund — in part to distance NSN from the controversial surveillance business and the potential it posed for human rights abuses. Perusa renamed the company Trovicor, though the equipment and most of the workers remained the same as prior to the sale.

Trovicor’s monitoring centers, which can be installed at telecommunications companies or at ISPs, have been sold to Egypt, Syria and Yemen, in addition to Bahrain. In all, the equipment plays a surveillance role in at least 12 Middle Eastern and North African nations, Bloomberg Markets reports. …more

February 29, 2012   No Comments

The Grand Prix by King Hamad, Killing them Harshly with His Thugs

February 27, 2012   No Comments

Ecclestone leads F1 teams into Moral Abyss

Full speed ahead for Bahrain GP, says Ecclestone
23 February 2012 – Reuters

LONDON (Reuters) – Formula One teams and sponsors have no concerns about racing in Bahrain this year and the grand prix is definitely on despite continuing unrest, the sport’s commercial supremo Bernie Ecclestone said on Thursday.

“Nobody is saying we’re not going or we don’t want to go or anything. Everybody is quite positive,” the 81-year-old told reporters after a news conference to announce a technology partnership with India’s Tata Communications.

“I’ve told all the teams it’s no problem at all, I’m absolutely 100 percent sure we’ll go there and there will be no problem.

“Pity I’m not going to be there myself but don’t worry,” he joked, adding after a pause: “No, I shall be there, don’t worry.”

Tickets for the April 22 race at the Sakhir circuit went on sale at the start of the week. Last year’s grand prix was postponed and then cancelled after a bloody crackdown on pro-democracy protests.

Teams have said they are happy to leave any decision to Ecclestone and the Paris-based International Automobile Federation (FIA).

Egyptian-American human rights lawyer Cherif Bassiouni, who headed an independent commission of inquiry that last year found security forces had used excessive force to suppress protests and tortured detainees to extract confessions, has also endorsed the race going ahead. …more

February 23, 2012   No Comments

Cherif Bassiouni ego trips and appoints himself advisor to F1 circuit and spokesperson for Bahrain

Bahrain grand prix should go ahead, says independent commissioner
Paul Weaver – guardian.co.uk – February 2012

Supporters of the Bahrain Grand Prix, which is scheduled for 22 April, have won an important ally in the shape of Cherif Bassiouni, a United Nations war crimes expert and the chairman of the independent commission which has monitored the fractious situation in the Gulf state over the past 12 months.

The Egyptian Bassiouni – who was appointed by the Bahrain royal family but has been critical of the authorities after last year’s disturbances – has written to the chairman of the Bahrain GP, Zayed Alzayani, and also to the Formula One principal rights holder, Bernie Ecclestone, giving his support for the race to go ahead, despite the ongoing protests from pro-democracy groups.

In his letter, Bassiouni says: “The grand prix is a significant national event, which is of great interest to a substantial percentage of the population and all of its communities. It is, therefore, an event of deserved national pride, which you have used in this year’s launching as a way of promoting national healing and reconciliation.

“Aside from the economic, publicity and public relations advantages that the grand prix brings to Bahrain it is, on the one year anniversary of the February/March events of last year, an important point of departure for the people of Bahrain to forge ahead in their national efforts towards reconciliation.”

Bassiouni was appointed by the ruling royal family, who last year had to back down under domestic and international pressure and abandon the race which was scheduled to launch the 2011 season, to chair an independent report into the event.

But his criticism of last year’s clumsy efforts to control the protesters can now only lend credence to his current position, which is not only that the race should go ahead but that it could also be a force for good for the troubled country.

The future of the race remains in considerable doubt, and a final call may not be made until a week or so before it is due to take place. At the circuit the feeling is that it will happen. But if there are pictures broadcast around the world of demonstrations being violently put down near to the track it could be an expensive own goal for the sport.

As for Bahrain itself, the government is anxious not to experience a repeat of last year, when an estimated £300m was lost following the cancellation. …source

February 22, 2012   No Comments

FIA speaking for Bahrain’s opposition, says “the main political oppositon” supports return of F1

FIA Spokesman: “The FIA, like many in the diplomatic community in the kingdom, the main political opposition, as well as the UK-Bahrain All-Party Parliamentary Group writing in the Times, believes the staging of a Grand Prix would be beneficial in bridging some of the difficulties Bahrain is experiencing.

Bernie Ecclestone resists calls to cancel Bahrain Grand Prix
14 February, 20120 – Guardian – Paul Weaver

Bernie Ecclestone, the F1 commercial rights holder, says the demonstrators were just a lot of kids having a go at the police.

A fresh plea for the cancellation of the Bahrain Grand Prix was made on Tuesday as armoured vehicles rumbled through the capital, Manama, helicopters whirred overhead, protesters threw petrol bombs and police responded with teargas as violence commemorated the anniversary of last year’s Day of Rage pro-democracy uprising in the Gulf kingdom.

Maryam al-Khawaja, head of the foreign relations office at the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights, said: “The government promised changes last year but no changes have taken place because there is no incentive to make them. And tortures are still taking place.

“The government want the message to go out that it is business as usual. But today armoured vehicles went into residential areas for the first time since last year’s martial law ended in June. I have heard reports of protesters being thrown from rooftops and others having legs broken. That it is why Formula One should make a stand and call this race off.”

But the resolute message from the Formula One boss Bernie Ecclestone and the sport’s governing body, the FIA, is that the race will go ahead on 22 April. Last year’s event, which was due to open the season, was cancelled after two postponements.

Ecclestone, the sport’s commercial rights holder, said day: ” I expected there was going to be a big uprising today, with the anniversary. But I think what happened, apparently, was that here were a lot of kids having a go at the police. I don’t think it’s anything serious at all.

“It doesn’t change our position in any shape or form. If the people in Bahrain [the government] say, ‘Look Bernie, it wouldn’t be good for you to come over here,’ then I would think again. That is what they said last year.”

Meanwhile in Paris an FIA spokesman said: “The FIA, like many in the diplomatic community in the kingdom, the main political opposition, as well as the UK-Bahrain All-Party Parliamentary Group writing in the Times, believes the staging of a Grand Prix would be beneficial in bridging some of the difficulties Bahrain is experiencing. …more

February 18, 2012   No Comments

Bahrain tourism sector ravaged with continued brutal crackdowns by regime – investors flee hope of 2012 Grand Prix

Bahrain Economic Outlook
23 November, 2011 – Intelligence Quarterly

POLITICAL STABILITY: The Economist Intelligence Unit expects that Bahrain will experience persistent political unrest in the forecast period. The ruling Al Khalifa family faces a significant threat to its authority, and the response of the king, Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa, will determine Bahrain’s political landscape over the next five years. There were large protests early in 2011 inspired by events in Egypt, Tunisia and elsewhere in the Arab world, calling for political and social reform. The security services used force to disperse the protesters, resulting in several deaths. Tensions rose further after the arrival of more than 1,000 troops of the Peninsula Shield Force–the combined military force of the Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC)–which many Bahrainis view as a Saudi occupation force sent to crack down on opposition groups. The government will continue to repress violently any mass protests calling for political reform and detain outspoken opposition activists.

ECONOMIC GROWTH: We have lowered our forecast for Bahrain’s real GDP growth this year to 1.8%. The political and social unrest has damaged Bahrain’s service oriented economy, resulting in two quarters of weak year-on-year growth. In the second quarter of 2011, the financial sector grew by 1.7%, while the hotels sector shrank by nearly 30%. GDP growth will average 3.7% a year in 2011-15. Bahrain’s financial sector, the cornerstone of the country’s diversification strategy, will suffer as a result of the recent unrest, which will take a toll on Bahrain’s long-cultivated “business-friendly” image. The services sector will shrink this year, harming the country’s growth prospects. However, we expect hydrocarbons to continue to be a major contributor to growth, and efforts to move hydrocarbons exports up the value chain (through higher-value-added refining, for example) will secure the importance of oil, despite the country’s low reserves. The ongoing political instability will be damaging to the country’s tourism industry, particularly tourism associated with events such as the Formula One Grand Prix, which has been cancelled this year (although it is expected to return next year). The government increased spending on subsidies and housebuilding in 2011, but we expect private financing to supplement public investment later in the forecast period. …more

February 17, 2012   No Comments

Grand Prix doomed as situation in Bahrain deteriorates under continued brutal crackdowns by regime

UN Calls on the Government of Bahrain for Restraint deteriorates
15 February, 2012 – Prensa Latina

(Prensa Latina) United Nations on Wednesday called on the Government of Bahrain for maximum restraint due to the clashes of recent days between government forces and demostrators calling for popular demands.

The warning was made by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon in a statement released by the UN deputy spokesman Eduardo del Buey.

Ban expressed concern about clashes between security forces and participants in the recent demonstrations in the Arab state.

Ban called on the authorities to act in accordance with its international obligations on human rights and called for the initiation of an inclusive dialogue aimed at meeting the legitimate aspirations of the people, as the only path to peace and stability.

The UN Secretary General also called on the government to implement the recommendations made last November by an independent investigative commission, chaired by Egyptian jurist Cherif Bassiouni.

That investigation determined that the authorities applied excessive use of force against demonstrations in February and March 2011, killing 35 civilians, and also denounced acts of torture, illegal trials and confessions obtained under duress.

Soon after, a team of the UN Human Rights Council visited Bahrain and found the existence of a deep mistrust to government, said the High Commissioner in that matter, Navi Pillay.

According to press reports, more than 10 000 people protested on Tuesday in Manama against the monarchy of the Al-Khalifa family, who leads the minority Sunni population of the kingdom. …source

February 17, 2012   No Comments

King Hamd scams suspended F1 employees with offer to return for hush money

Sacked Bahrain F1 staff stay out
20 January, 2012 – Bill Law – BBC

The row over 29 sacked Formula 1 employees deepened on Thursday when it emerged that most have yet to return to work.

The workers were fired for allegedly participating in protests against the government of King Hamad Bin Isa Al Khalifa.

Out of 29 who lost their jobs, only three have come back.

Twelve others who were asked to return have refused, saying that the terms of a new contract are unfair. They say the contract fails to restore lost pay and benefits. They are also being asked to drop cases brought for unfair dismissal.

The 29 were among more than 1,600 Bahrainis summarily dismissed from their jobs last year in both the private and public sectors.

In a bid to defuse tensions, King Hamad issued a royal decree last week instructing that all those who had been sacked be allowed to return to work.

The decree came in the wake of a report late last year by the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI).
The Crown Prince of Bahrain is said to be a huge fan of Formula One The Crown Prince of Bahrain is said to be a huge fan of Formula 1

The king had ordered the independent investigation after the violent suppression of protests by security forces left more than 50 people dead in the tiny Gulf state.

Damning verdict

Chaired by the distinguished Egyptian lawyer, Professor Cherif Bassiouni, the report proved to be a damning indictment of King Hamad’s government.

Mr Bassiouni documented numerous human rights abuses and systematic torture of detainees in February and March.

His report also examined the cases of employees who were sacked for allegedly supporting pro-democracy protests. Nearly all of those affected were Shia Muslims.

Bahrain has a Shia majority population but is ruled over by a Sunni Muslim family, the Al Khalifa. The Shia community has long complained of discrimination at the hands of the Al Khalifa. …more

January 20, 2012   No Comments

Political Expedience to facilitate Grand Prix return not Human Rights Reform drives King Hamad

Bahrain F1 to reinstate dismissed employees
11 January, 2012 – AP

MANAMA, BAHRAIN (AP) —Bahrain Grand Prix officials will reinstate employees who have been purged from jobs as part of a crackdown on dissent in the Gulf kingdom, the chief executive of the Bahrain International Circuit said Wednesday.

Sheik Salman bin Isa Al-Khalifa said in a statement the decision is “an important initiative towards national reconciliation and unity” in the Gulf kingdom that has been roiled by opposition protests and government crackdowns since February.

Bahrain’s season-opening race last year was canceled becaue of political unrest. This year’s race is scheduled for April 22.

“I welcome back our colleagues into the BIC family as we now look to focus on the future and the important job at hand,” Sheik Salman said in a statement that was posted on the Bahrain Grand Prix website Wednesday.

The statement does not say how many circuit employees were dismissed for their alleged role in Shiite-led protests against Sunni rulers.

Human rights groups have criticized the decision of the world racing body to reinstate the Bahrain event this year.

The Bahrain Center for Human Rights said “arrests and trials” of opposition supporters continue. They include Bahraini race drivers, the group said in a statement Wednesday.

Last month, driver Mohammed al-Khunaizi was sentenced to two years in prison. He was detained in September after a funeral of a protester who died during an anti-government rally, the statement said.

Hundreds of opposition supporters have been detained and tried in special security court for participating in protests, including at least 150 athletes, coaches and referees.

After mounting international pressure, Bahrain last month halted trials against the athletes and dropped all protest-related charges against them.

It remains unclear what will happen to athletes already convicted.

A medal-winning bodybuilder, a national soccer team goalkeeper and a Bahrain basketball player were sentenced to one year in prison each in December. In June, a Bahraini soccer player was sentenced to two years in prison.

Hundreds of suspected opposition supporters have been pushed out of public and private sector jobs since March, when Bahrain imposed martial law to quell protests aimed at breaking the Sunni dynasty’s monopoly on power.

Bahraini labor groups claim up to 2,500 people were purged from jobs during the unrest. The government puts the number at 1,623. …source

January 12, 2012   No Comments

King Hamad’s violent plunder of Human Rights in Bahrain cast fresh doubt about it’s suitibility as host of 2012 Gran Prix

Doubts emerge over 2012 Bahrain Grand Prix
8 October 2011 – Ted Kravitz By Ted Kravitz, BBC F1 pit-lane reporter

Fresh doubt surrounds Bahrain GP

Formula 1’s return to Bahrain in 2012 is being called into question following continuing unrest in the country. This year’s race was called off following a clampdown on pro-democracy protests in the Gulf kingdom.

Red Bull team principal Christian Horner said F1 bosses would discuss the issue in the coming weeks.

“It’s always concerning with the media reports that you hear,” said Horner. “But [we] trust in the promoter and FIA to deal with it accordingly.” He said the Bahrain would “inevitably” be discussed at the next meeting of governing body the FIA’s World Council, F1’s decision-making body. Earlier this month, the Gulf kingdom faced international criticism after medical staff who treated protestors were given prison sentences of up to 15 years.

Last month, the FIA published the calendar for next year with Bahrain pencilled in for 22 April.

BAHRAIN GP TIMELINE

* 21 February – Civil unrest forces cancellation of Bahrain GP
* 3 June – Bahrain GP rescheduled for 30 October
* 15 June – FIA confirms no Bahrain race in 2011
* 1 September – FIA confirms return of Bahrain race in 2012

In February this year, the Bahrain pre-season test and race were called off following anti-government protests in the Gulf Kingdom in which more than 30 people lost their lives. The FIA said the race could still be rescheduled and in June it announced that it would take place on 30 October, with the inaugural Indian Grand Prix moving to a date in December.

The decision proved highly controversial and outraged human rights campaigners, with nearly half a million people signing an online petition demanding a boycott.

F1 teams made it clear they were opposed to the rescheduling of the race. They protested on grounds of logistics, but were known to have concerns about going to Bahrain in the circumstances. Two weeks later, the sport’s governing body confirmed the race would not be part of the 2011 programme. The teams are understood to still have concerns about going to Bahrain in the context of the political situation in the country. …source

October 9, 2011   No Comments