Tous Avec Jules #17
Sochi 2014
Russian Grand Prix
Human rights group in Bahrain calls for teams to boycott April race
News
Darren Heath
Posted By: James Allen  |  09 Jan 2012   |  11:17 am GMT  |  63 comments

With just over three months to go until the scheduled date for the Bahrain Grand Prix, a human rights group in the country has called for the teams and drivers to boycott the event.

Last year in the wake of protests in the country, the event was first postponed to later in the year and then cancelled after the F1 teams wrote to the FIA saying that they didn’t feel the event could take place.

That letter was signed by F1 Teams Association chairman Martin Whitmarsh, who took a significant personal risk in doing so as his team, McLaren, is 50% owned by the Bahrainis.

Now the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights is calling for the teams to do the same thing again. However FOTA is no longer fully intact with Ferrari, Red Bull and Sauber leaving the organisation in December and HRT sitting outside it already, one third of the teams are not represented by the organisation.

When the 2012 calendar was announced, Bahrain was given a date of April 22, but there is still unease within F1 about the prospect of going there.

The FIA’s regulations state that if a race is called off three months or less before the scheduled date then it cannot appear in the following year’s calendar, except in a case of force majeure. The troubles in Bahrain could be argued to be force majeure, but that is for the FIA to decide. The three month deadline falls on January 22nd, less than two weeks from now.

“We will campaign for … drivers and teams to boycott. The government wants Formula One to tell the outside world that everything is back to normal,” Nabeel Rajab, vice president of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights told the Guardian newspaper in the UK. “Formula One, if they come, they are helping the government to say [it is normal]. We would prefer it if they didn’t take part. I am sure the drivers and teams respect human rights.”

A spokesman for the Bahrain International Circuit responded to the latest calls by saying, “The report (independent report, published in November) found evidence of human rights violations and made certain general and specific recommendations. The government has fully acknowledged the findings of the report and is acting swiftly and convincingly on the recommendations.

“The Bahrain Grand Prix forms a fundamental part of the local economy. It is supported by an overwhelming majority of people from all sections of society in Bahrain and represents a symbol of national unity. The independent report was a milestone for Bahrain and we will now work tirelessly to ensure the race is a great success.”

Featured News
MORE FROM JA ON F1...
Share This:
Posted by:
Category:
63 Comments
  1. Joaquin Correa says:

    It would be hypocritical for F1 to pretend they care about human rights.

    1. Sebee says:

      I know. I’m tired of this discussion already. Like the “west” has a clean record on human rights.

      Let’s get the security in place and hold this event already, or dump this track and fill the gap. I’m tired of the drama and potential for 1 month gap at start of season.

      1. Wayne says:

        Let us all be absolutely clear. If this race is called off the main concern for F1 will be the 25M hosting fee payable by Bahrain and/or the impact on sponsors’ image. As mention of concern of human rights from F1 would be disingenuous and hypocritical in the extreme, considering the other races on the calendar. If North Korea had the cash, BE would have the road show over their in an instant – and some would say ‘why not’?

        Mercedes was one of the strongest voices in the call to boycott the race last year. I assume then that it has banned the sale of all it’s cars from all its divisions in the state?

      2. Wayne says:

        Of course I forgot to mention SAFETY for personnel, which I think I am right in saying that F1 does take more seriously than money. Although, if you listen to BE’s sprinkler and roundabout ideas, oh and the medal thing that would force drivers to go all out for the win regardless……..

    2. political activist says:

      we live in this type of society. All the media is now focusing on siria, and they don’t say a word about baharain.
      And have you notice that now when they want to destroy somebody’s career, they say he raped a woman?!!! Ja ja
      A political figure never rapes a woman is always a set up. Period.

  2. Wayne says:

    F1 needs to clarify its position over this, even if its position is ‘we have no position’.

    Does the sport have a social conscience and moral compass that would inevitably steer it away from those countries where it is welcomed only by the ruling elite, at the expense of its people, to perform in ‘private’ playgrounds based on funds that could and perhaps should have built schools or hospitals? Does it have a responsibility to take a full part in the world in which it operates, for good or evil – does it have a role to play beyond entertainment as long as it takes and contributes huge amounts of money to and from the world economy? It does seem that BE will go anywhere for the money, fans and everyone else be dammed. But isn’t that the role of a CEO of a large business – follow the money?

    Or does it rise above global politics and try to remain ‘above it all’ – it is only a sport after all. Does something as unimportant as a mere sport even have a right to take a stand on global concerns such as human rights? Would doing so be self-aggrandising to the point of insanity? If it decided that it should take a stand, on what would it base that stand? Where would it get its information, how would it know for sure which ‘side’ to take for the greater good?

    What is more important to F1 – that part of itself which is a sport or that which is a business? As far as I can tell, F1 leans more towards sports entertainment (think American Wrestling) with every new rule, guideline and corporate decision. Actual sporting racing between drivers is being lost beneath cheap gimmicks like DRS, KERS, The ‘one move’ rule, comedy ‘carry-on’ tyres, SKY TV – how long before pay per view wacky races etc? If F1 is to be a sports entertainment company maybe it should embrace that and not try quite so hard to convince us all that it’s a true sport. Then those guys who think that the ebst bits are the crashes can carry on watching and others of us can just switch to so called ‘lesser’ formulas where the racing is more ‘real’.

    1. Barry says:

      “Or does it rise above global politics and try to remain ‘above it all’ – it is only a sport after all.”

      F1 is not a sport in my opinion, it’s 99% a money making business and nothing else. The actual racing is a complete sideshow for 2 hours every other Sunday afternoon. Money makes every decision in F1 and this one will be no different.

      1. Sebee says:

        Man with clarity.

        Piper has been paid. Let’s race!

      2. Wayne says:

        Well put.

    2. Henri says:

      I refer you to international rugby being boycott in Apartheid South Africa. Sport can, and should play a role as the eyes of the world will be on that country.

  3. Matt says:

    Good, although they’d need to cancel a few other countries not to become hypocrites. China would be the first if we’re basing it on human rights.

    1. Sebee says:

      This is why Bahrain must go on really. F1 is a product. Bahrain pays for the product and expects delivery. Let me please remind everyone to stop this whole human rights is F1′s responsibility song. F1 is a bunch of really expensive fancy cars with sponsor logos running around in circles advertising product. It’s not the United Nations.

      Isn’t the Euro 2012 hosted in a human rights mecca of Ukraine? Didn’t olympics take place in China? Let’s get off the high horse and off F1′s back.

      1. Matt says:

        This isn’t about F1 having a responsibility to human rights, their only responsibility is to turn a profit – and I agree 100% with this statement.

        The fans, AKA consumers saying sorry if you race in brutal dictatorships we’re no longer going to consume your product, change it or go out of business – this change would be solely a commercial one, nothing to do with social responsibility or the UN.

        A perfect example of capitalism in action.

      2. Sebee says:

        You seriously are telling me that you would not watch and hold out for a month at start of season?

        A declaration then, this race must now be held. If for no other reason than the fact that I want to see the TV rating results. I want to see what impact all the righteous “F1 = Human Rights” people will have on the viewing figures.

      3. Sebee says:

        Also Bahrain will be on Sky. You’ll pay for the package to watch F1, but not watch the race?

      4. Matt says:

        It has nothing to do with F1 = human rights.

        F1 has no duty to decrease human rights abuses around the world and I stated that.

        If people are happy to watch even though they know many others are being exploited then that’s an acceptable choice, if they’re not and the voice their concerns and F1 doesn’t race their because of this it’s not because F1 has acted on a moral obligation, they’ve acted on what’s best for F1 commercially – not losing customers.

        It’s up to the fans if this is acceptable or not, not F1 and certainly not as a duty on F1.

      5. Wayne says:

        The China issue is an incredibly valid point. Why would F1 visit China and not Bahrain? Let’s not forget we’re off to Russia soon, home to perhaps one of the most corrupt governments on earth that allegedly likes to poison and murder its enemies.

        While we’re on the subject, the USA still has a very healthy slave trade as well. 25% of the world’s prisoners are in the USA (thanks to three Stikes) and they are forced to work for less than a dollar an hour or they are given solitary confinement. This is a massive slave labour market that allows the USA to compete with South America among others is some sectors. Perhaps we should not visit the USA either?

      6. Jordon191 says:

        Terrific point, Wayne. I am an American, living in America, and many of the hidden human rights issues here put other ‘axis of evil’ countries to shame. World’s largest (by far) prison population — half a million alone for non-violent drug offenses — that feeds corporate prison profits, state-sponsored executions, 50 million without health insurance, slave-wages for the invisible, and huge, working underclass . . . the list goes on. I am looking forward to attending the race in Austin next year, but let’s not pretend that China and Bahrain are the only countries F1 visits with a ruling elite with its boot on the neck of ordinary folks.

      7. Wayne says:

        Very well said, Jordon, I am a Brit living in Britain and my own country is not immune from these claims. Collusions between my own country and yours in the ‘war on terror’ leave a human rights ‘trail of blood’ across the globe. We also enforce/support the starvation of ordinary people with trade embargos and UN resolutions everywhere from the middle east to North Korea. Whether these steps have to be taken or not, I have no idea, but they are human rights violations either way.

        We have a race deal for the next ten years.

        The point is, an argument could be found to scrap every race from the calendar on human right grounds.

    2. eric weinraub says:

      No way it could race at in the United States, if the sport had a moral compass. As an American, I see things for how they are and so the racing should go forward in Bharain and other nations and skip the hypocricy. Much as I would love otherwise, singling out the de jour cause for human rights seems pointless. Picking on Bharain while allowing racing in the United Kingdom, the United States, India, and China is the sort of bull that only goes on by those who refuse to see things as they really are.

  4. Ali says:

    I agree that F1 should refuse to race in Bahrain. The fact this country ever reappeared on the calendar is a farce.

    Bernie’s comments about the troubles being behind the country are both ridiculous (see todays blog from Jon Snow at Channel 4 News:http://blogs.channel4.com/snowblog/arab-springs-forgotten-pearl/16914) and insulting to the people who are being violently subdued by the Bahrainy government. Plus, the obvious money grabbing in the face of human rights atrocities are just embarrassing.

    F1 teams and personnel must boycott to not bring the sport into disrepute.

    1. Sebee says:

      OK,

      Out as well with China, Malaysia, Hungary, India, Brazil, and why not United States too – not exactly role model of the GP club.

      Can we please stop the F1 – Human rights link up?

      Otherwise, let’s open up a paypal account and eveyrone here donate so we can build a reconfigurable F1 race track on planet Utopia.

      1. Tom says:

        Why does everything have to be black and white? Why can’t F1 recognise that things are really bad in country X but really really really really really bad in country Y and thus visit the former but not the latter? Why does it have to be so clear-cut?

      2. Sebee says:

        F1 is black and white because F1 operatates in binary mode.

        Black – you don’t have money to pay for a race, we don’t come.
        White – you do have money to pay for a race, we’re coming.

        Source of your money is not FOM’s concern. Money paid, we will deliver the product. We don’t descriminate unless laws of the land prohibit it. Example, I’m sure that due to some sanctions against Iran, FOM can’t conduct business there – unless FOM company is registered in a country which doesn’t have such sanctions in place.

      3. Tom says:

        Quite clearly it doesn’t operate in “binary mode”. If it did, there would have been a race in Bahrain in 2011, and it wouldn’t have taken so long for the South African race to stop all those years ago.

      4. Sebee says:

        OK, OK. There is an * in the binary loop. That * is safety of personel.

        Bahrain 2011 didn’t go ahead because of knee jerk reactions and push to reschedule at cost of reshuffling other events – which I’m sure those events protested and parhaps contractually were entitled to protest.

        By the way, that safety bit can be compromized anywhere. Brazil as we saw for example.

      5. Ali says:

        I’m sorry if my being a decent human being clashes with your enjoyment of a sport. We all live in this world together and turning a blind eye to atrocities should bother all of us – including those involved in something so frivolous as motorsport.

        And as for your statement, yes – I have no problem in not having the GPs you list (although I have no personal knowledge of atrocities in Hungary, Brazil or India) – especially if it means we can get back to the better tracks (and fan base) in Europe.

      6. Sebee says:

        Ali,

        This has nothing to do about being decent or not. I’ll set aside the fact that we really should not declare people as decent or assume others are not.

        If you want to talk about decency, then you have to determine where on the ruler your decency level falls. Is it decent to pay to host races in Spain while 40% of young people are out of work? Is it decent to pay 200M to make a car that will see around 200 hours of use time vs. feeding the hungry? There is plenty of indecency out there – it’s part of the human tapestry. Bahrain has to work out it’s own problems. It’s not F1′s job to force them to do so. Neither is it F1′s job in China, Russia, US, or anywhere else. It’s just a race. People are getting their panties in a bunch, and it irritates me as much that the righteous are trying to hijack this event in the name of their cause. It’s a marketing effort, not a venue for human rights causes.

  5. James, do you have any of your followers located in Bahrain – or exiled from Bahrain – who could tell us about what really goes on there?

    One of my colleagues (a Palestinian Australian) just returned from a month long stay in Lebanon where he felt that the uprising in Syria is nowhere near as big as the news outlets make it to be. (Probably less than 10% of the Syrian population according to him.)

    I am not saying the above is true or untrue, however, what is the probability that the rebels in Bahrain paint a much bigger picture of what actually goes one there?
    There must be some people for whom not hosting the F1 race would be a political victory.

    I would also imagine that same as last year, CVC would not cancel the race and forfeit revenue from the Bahrain round, with Bernie probably leaving the decision to the Bahraini authorities.

    Finally, as a sport journalist and broadcaster, would you feel safe enough to go?

    1. Nelson says:

      Although I’m not Bahraini, I’ve been living here for several years and I completely agree with what you’re getting at.

      Its very obvious that many “opposition groups” (around the world) have realised the power that “human rights” has over the western media and politicians, and how this can be exploited. Call yourself a “human rights actvivist” rather than a “politician” and suddenly your words are accepted almost without question.

      Bahrain is unfortunate in that there is one particular opposition group who have effectively decided that they will reject out-of-hand any and all attempts at reform by the government. They boycott talks, etc, while youths on the street throw petrol bombs, block roads, attack police etc etc., all while filming it on their phones in the hope of getting something to show the international media. On the other hand, some of the videos online of the violence against police are pretty horrendous (“peaceful protestor” indeed!).

      Meanwhile “human rights groups” take any and every chance to attack the government and make the place look like Libya, Syria, Yemen etc, which is just wrong.

      Not to say that there aren’t human rights problems here – an independent report was pretty scathing of the government, police etc, over their handling of last year’s unrest, but to their credit they have accepted it and said they will implement all the recommendations (and many policemen have already been charged). Needless to say that the hard line opposition rejected/boycotted the whole thing in advance, and are busily telling anyone who’ll listen that the government is lying, not serious, etc etc.

      I guess time will tell, but it’s not a particularly helpful attitude if they claim to have Bahrain’s interests at heart, and it’s a great shame that the western media are so willing to accept their line uncritically.

      Oh, and despite what the media says, this opposition group don’t represent all Bahrainis – they like to say that they are “the opposition”, but the truth is there are a lot of groups with their own issue/agenda, and many of them have decided to push for reforms peacefully and by dialogue. It’s mainly one particular group (admittedly sizeable) that gets all the attention.

      The call to boycott the GP looks horribly like a case of cutting-off-nose-to-spite-face, and no doubt the hard core will try to make an event out of it while again presenting themselves as the only victims. But to try and boycott Bahrain on the basis of human rights (as opposed to a vocal and media savvy opposition) when compared to some of the other countries F1 goes to is just wrong.

      By the way, have a look on wikileaks about the source of this boycott the GP call – it seems even the US has doubts about him, after he was allegedly caught “embellishing” (shall we say) reports in the past.

      1. Thanks Nelson for the tremendous post – very enlightening. I had a feeling that there might have been a lot of holier than thou people on this blog asking to cancel the race without knowing what actually happens on the ground.

        Being located there, how do you feel for your personal safety? Do you think westerners would be welcome?

        Will you be going to the race yourself?

      2. Nelson says:

        Not yet decided whether I’ll go or not – will probably come down to cost and work/family commitments.

        My personal feeling is that people here for the GP won’t be at risk – more likely is that the opposition will use the event to focus media attention on Bahrain, probably staging some unauthorised but peaceful protests for the cameras in the hope that the police will overreact, while at the same time the rioting etc will continue in the villages, with possibly a few attempts to block roads etc.

      3. brandon says:

        Should have mentioned the part where the police fire American-made “non-lethal” tear gas into homes at night and it kills babies and old people. If you want to know what’s going on in a country go look at Twitter and you can see pretty quickly what the level of abuse is like. Bahrain is worse than China, USA, etc because they openly murder and subjugate their populace, whereas China/India do it quietly and the USA exports their torture of citizens to other countries.

      4. Nelson says:

        Look, these sort of things are wrong. Absolutely. And, again, it seems they do get investigated and police put on trial (a number were in court today over an inmate killed in prision).

        Do you have any evidence that there is state sanctioned policy to “openly murder and subjugate their populace”? Or is that your opinion based on vocal twitter users?

        (And you’ll also see from twitetr that there’s are a good proportion of Bahraini tweeters against the protestors and, to varying extents, more pro-government…)

      5. Nelson says:

        One more thing: I said a few months ago that it looked like the Bahrain police had gone in very hard by Western standards, and if you read the independent report (www.bici.org.bh) it’s pretty graphic and damning of what went on.

        Having said that, the govt has put its hands up and accepted the report in full – it’s promised to investigate and charge anyone responsible (as I said, a lot of police are already on the way to trial) and to pay full compensation.

        To me, that’s positive – and a heck of a lot better a response than you could probably expect from many countries, including a number of F1 host countries.

        Naturally, that doesn’t satisfy everyone, but with some groups there comes a time when after so many deliberately missed opportunities to talk/compromise, and so many walkouts/boycotts, you begin to question what is their real agenda?

      6. Wayne says:

        I am in the UK, and this is literally the first opinion I have heard that even attempts to remain neutral or exaplin the situation from the Government’s point of view. Any half intelligent person would like both sides of a story before forming an opinion, yet all we get here is pro revolutionary ‘propaganda’. Thank you Nelson for offering us an alternative opinion. I admit I have not gone looking for an alterbative opinion but it is amazing that I had to come to JA on F1 to come across one!

        One thing I agree with in Brandon’s post is that the US (and the UK as well) have a thriving business in the export of torture and human rigthts violations. We even export them to each other. Right now theirn is a stgory in the British press about Babar Ahmad, who has been held in the UK wihtout trial for 7 years and is fighting extradition to the US. The BBC were preventing from filming Babar Ahmad by the Justice Secretary – a decision which has now been overturned. I havae no idea what this guy has or has not done, but holding him for nearly a decade without trial is a gross violation of Human Rights.

  6. Phil Bishop says:

    My wife and I are looking at races to visit this year and we struck Bahrain off the list straight away. I hope the teams do boycott it.

    1. Sebee says:

      Sounds to me like you’ll be missing out on one heck of a VIP experience. Small crowds, plenty of seat choice, top security, fresh food and no line up as concesion stands, clean bathrooms, and at a reasonable price because this race has grandstands just for the heck of it really.

      Plus – you could say you were there. Give us a first hand Fan Report.

      I’d reconsider.

      1. Phil Bishop says:

        Thanks Sebee. You might be right but then again I could be claiming on my travel insurance when the race is pulled last minute ;o)

      2. Sebee says:

        For once at least you will know that the travel/cancellation insurance will be worth the purchase price, not the usual rip off that it is!

      3. meltwaterfalls says:

        Rather odd way of looking at it to be honest:
        “Go to Bahrain, it is sparsely attended and lacks atmosphere”

        For me personally, I’m not happy with the race probably going ahead. But there are plenty of other races taking place under un-impressive regimes (though what was the reason for including Hungary in the previous list of dodgy states [admittedly Obran seems like a pretty unlikable man, but I wouldn't put his Hungary in the same category as China])

        I doubt I will watch the race, but that is my decision and I don’t expect everyone else to follow. Perhaps it makes me a hypocrite if I still continue to support the product by watching other races, but I feel more comfortable in myself for doing it.

      4. Sebee says:

        You’re not a hypocrite. I miss races all the time when my kids want to do something together. Your choice to skip watching will register in the same way my choice to skip watching does. Which is why it’s a mute point.

        If I was a betting man, I would bet that Bahrain will have best ratings ever this year. All this hooplah is just more advertising for the race. People will check it out for curiousity sake.

  7. madmax says:

    I will be very surprised if Bahrain GP doesn’t happen.

    Ecclestone said basically barring some sort of catastrophe it is going to happen and it is rare that everyone in F1 doesn’t ask how high when the short one asks them to jump.

  8. DaveF says:

    Whilst sport and politics should generally remain separate in my opinion there are times when that is not possible. For example few people would argue that it was wrong for sporting teams to boycott South Africa during the apartheid years.

    Human rights and democracy is a hard thing to define though. Here in the west our “democratically elected” governments don’t really have a popular mandate (turnout in elections is usually less than 50% and of that the winning party gets less than 50% of the vote under UK first past the post system). With the “war on terror” our civil liberties have also been eroded and we monitor what people do in the same way that countries such as China do. So how is it right for us but wrong for them?

    I guess it comes down to degrees of oppression and the question is does Bahrain match apartheid South Africa in that respect? If so then F1 should certainly not go.

    1. Alex W says:

      In Australia everyone votes, and every elected member gets atleast 50% of the votes, a true democratic system.

  9. Kedar says:

    Will these “human rights activists” boycott fuel sourced from Saudi Arabia on the same grounds?
    Probably not

  10. Rudy says:

    It’s not a “human rights” bound decission. If so, they wouldn’t race in China or Brazil. In the near future there are a couple of countries with severe Human Rights claims: Russia and MExico. It has more to do with the overall security for teams and spectators. If the FIA considers it secure enough it will give it a go. I really hope F-1 doesn’t get trapped in these political games.

    1. Very good point. I agree, it is a personal safety issue rather than a human rights one.

      If it was based on the latter, even Australia has some issues with the Northern Territories intervention.

    2. Brisbane Bill says:

      Rudy – I fully agree. F1 and the teams cannot play a role indetermining how a government runs its country. They can make a decision whether they want to continue doing business with a regime like that but, with contracts in place, it isn’t an easy process to simply say that they don’t like the way the government is treating their poeple so we will not abide by the contract.

      We seem to accept that big business has no morals and are happy to earn profits on the back of slave labour, heavy pollution and seeking to monopolise resources. So the sponsors really need to play a leading role here and protect their image and take a lead in deciding not to do business in places where human rights issues exist – they can demand to remove branding from cars, trucks, clothing etc.

      From a sporting perspective (and let’s loosely agree that there is still an element of sport in F1 just for arguments sake) the real issue is around the safety and security of everyone connected with the race (track officials, drivers, team members, fans, taxi & bus drivers, food vendors etc etc). If this cannot be guaranteed then the race needs to be cancelled. The FIA and FOM have a duty of care to ensure that those attending the event can do so in a safe manner.

  11. K says:

    People who keep on using the ‘human rights’ card against Bahrain never seem to do this with China and Brazil whom are known for assassinating, torturing, imprisoning their citizens without a trial that are peacefully against their governments. Daily.

    Guess they are not muslim countries, so not part of the agenda, eh?

  12. Rich C says:

    Second verse, same as the first!

  13. Darren says:

    F1 has enough politics of its own without getting involved with “real” politics. F1 doesnt need to and shouldnt have a stance on this.

    The only reason the Bahrain GP should be canceled is because it has consistantly shown to be dull as dish water…

  14. Davexxx says:

    I think WE should help the F1 teams by adding OUR voice to the call for skipping Bahrain this year.
    I DO agree that I wish F1 could stay out of such politics, and, that many other western countries don’t have clean records and all that, and, I like all F1 races and wish we could avoid having to bin any of them.
    But: good for Martin Whitmarsh and the risk he took last year; this year FOTA will feel less powerful ‘alone’ to protest (and remember they do so mainly for everyone’s safety, not as a political statement) and a petition HERE could help them. Just a thought.

    1. Sebee says:

      Everyone has their right to free voice. Even people of Bahrain are free to post here.

      However, someone remind me how many million reasons there are for F1 circus to go? And it’s just a product – an event, like a concert. Not like F1 has the power to legitimize governments. If anything it’s brought governments down due to over spending on the events.

      F1 = Cars with logos going round fast.
      F1 = We will come if you bild a track and pay.

      F1 ≠ Human Rights policing organization.
      F1 ≠ Subsidiary of UN

  15. Rich C says:

    My only concern would be the safety of the “F1 family,” nothing else. Don’t care about their local politics.

    BUT this does shine a big spotlight on the situation, and obviously the anti-Gov’t ppl are taking advantage of it.

    Imagine how much *more light would be put on them if the GP went ahead and took place. Think of all the media attention.

    So you should view the event as an unwilling agent of change, and support it.

  16. Chris says:

    If I had my way, China would also be off the calendar, as would all countries without democratically elected governments. But there are plenty of reasons for drawing a line between China and Bahrain.

    One huge difference between the two, is the degree to which the event is used as propaganda by the government. In China, the GP has little or no government involvement, and little or no official PR associated with it.

    In Bahrain, OTOH, the GP is owned and organized by the ruling family, and is the countries biggest international event. It is explicitly and aggressively used to legitimize the undemocratic, discriminatory philosophy of the royal family, both internationally and domestically. By painting a picture for foreign viewers of a happy, smiley, friendly, glamorous Bahrain, the GP makes it easier for the government to continue its repression without facing calls for sanctions from the citizens (or opposition parties) of the major Western democracies, on whom Bahrain depends for military support and equipment.

    Furthermore, after the 2010 GP was dropped, all Shiite employees of the GP were fired, and many of them were detained and tortured. This is political repression directed at the F1 world itself, and it would be utterly disgusting for F1 to support such a crime.

    If F1 goes there, I will boycott every team and every sponsor who participates. And judging by the campaign organized last year, I will have a lot of company in that stand.

  17. Chris says:

    For those so inclined, there is a boycott petition:
    http://www.gopetition.com/petitions/no-f1-in-brutal-bahrain/sign.html

    The 2011 petition seemed a bit more “professional”, but that site doesn’t seem to have updated it for 2012:
    https://secure.avaaz.org/en/no_f1_in_brutal_bahrain/?r=act

    I recommend signing both, to be sure.

  18. Werewolf says:

    This situation has the potential to become extremely complex within F1, as all the various stakeholders determine their views, ethical and otherwise, and bottom lines.

    For instance, Ferrari, although outside of FOTA is nonetheless hugely powerful and also highly political, both in terms of its relationships with the Italian trade unions and Di Montezemolo’s personal aspirations.

    Then there is Renault’s state connections, the views of billions of dollars worth of sponsors (or their perceptions of their customers’ views), the influence of the media outlets, including television channels, covering the event and the FIA’s view of its own need for international support in a difficult economic climate and at a time when F1 is increasingly politically incorrect.

    You can be sure all parties will put their own interests first and if sufficient of them have the heebie-jeebies, Ecclestone will for once be largely powerless.

  19. Sean says:

    It seems to me that it’s wrong to simply draw a black and white distinction between countries based on the way they treat their citizens. The argument that F1 shouldn’t go to China or even Brazil if it doesn’t go to Bahrain is too simplistic. It’s designed to lead one to the conclusion that, since F1 goes to China, F1 should go to Bahrain. The situation is more complicated than that, however. As shown by the reaction to the Bahraini royal family’s invitations to the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton, it’s pretty well accepted that the Bahrainis have gone too far in their treatment of their people, and that as a result one should not support or show solidarity with their government. However, it is perfectly acceptable to do business with the Chinese and have relations with their government. Why is this? The answer cannot be money alone, since both China and Bahrain are wealthy.

    In Bahrain, the populace is clearly unsettled, which if nothing else, creates safety problems for those attending the event. The ethical problem is also significant. Marketers and advertisers probably do not wish to be seen supporting people who apparently support a tyrannical government. Also, as Mark Webber showed last year, individual people within F1 have their own consciences, and may not wish to race in such a country.

    I don’t think it is right to race in Bahrain. The country is clearly not settled, and it seems wrong to pretend that last year didn’t happen, and support a government simply because it can tamp down rebellions with force. The Bahraini government needs to demonstrate improved relations with its people before F1 goes back. The FIA should ensure this by sending an observer who is qualified to come to their own conclusion. (These qualifications might include speaking the local language.) F1′s presence in the country probably will not help matters; I imagine it would only stir things further.

  20. Lewis says:

    Nelson hit the nail on the head. I’ve visited Bahrain for up to 3 weeks at a time on several occasion prior to the ‘unrest’.

    There has always been ‘activists’ and there were tyre burnings on the streets and molotov cocktails thrown for no apparent reason other than having a dislike of the ruling family on a daily basis by the very same people who claim to be so majorly oppressed. A simplistic way of putting it is that the Shia’s just don’t like that the Sunni’s are in charge as the Sunni’s are a minority, although there is a bit more too it than that of course.

    While the security forces don’t do the best job at handling it, it isn’t on a much worse scale then we’ve ever seen in London when the police have quite literally beaten up protesters.

    The day before I left Bahrain in Summer last year there was a riot/protest quite simply because 3 convicted (or to be convicted) terrorists were put on trial and found guilty which was more than reasonable.
    The Western media just gives too much time to anyone calls themselves an activist like Nelson said.

    1. Lewis says:

      One final thing – when the protesters camped out at Pearl Roundabout (its not a square) many policeman had their fingers chopped off by the ‘activists’ who were wielding all sorts of knives, swords and machetes. It wasn’t reported over here once. In the video where the protesters are marching towards the security forces there is a bit recorded before where you see one man smearing fake blood on the ground. All i’m getting it is not everything reported in the media is as it seems.

    2. Sebee says:

      Very interesting.

      Anyhow, this race is taking place this year 100%. No one is paying Bernie another 25M for the pleasure of being featured on the calendar. They will secure the track and host. RVs are bing set up right now at the track for the teams so they don’t have to travel. I’m sure a helicopter or two can make it in and out.

      1. Sebee says:

        That note about RV is not factual – but I imagine one of the options available to not have to leave the site.

LEAVE A COMMENT

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

Top Tags
SEARCH News
JA ON F1 In association with...
Download the chequered flag podcast today
Download the chequered flag podcast today
Multi award winning Formula One photographer
Multi award winning Formula One photographer