As the British racer Lewis Hamilton was announced the winner of the Bahrain Formula One Grand Prix, around 100 Bahrainis lost their freedom after government forces launched a campaign of arrests since the beginning of April in order to secure the tournament.
100 Dissents Lose their Freedom as Hamilton Wins the Bahrain F1 Grand Prix
Bahrain Mirror (Exclusive): As the British racer Lewis Hamilton was announced the winner of the Bahrain Formula One Grand Prix, around 100 Bahrainis lost their freedom after government forces launched a campaign of arrests since the beginning of April in order to secure the tournament.
Bahrain Center for Human Rights, which is headed by the prominent Human Rights defender, Nabeel Rajab (detained since April 2nd, 2015), revealed that Bahraini authorities, until Saturday, have arrested at least 91 Bahrainis after launching night raids and chasing them down.
The majority of the detainees are under 20 years of age. Some of the detainees’ families have stated that they were shot at during their arrests, while others said that they lost contact with them the moment they were taken into custody. Government forces have made massive efforts in order to silence the voice of the opposition during the Grand Prix. They deployed hundreds of armored vehicles in the villages located on the outskirts of the capital Manama and residential areas near the Bahrain International Circuit in the Kingdom’s south.
Although thousands of Bahrainis were able to stage rallies Friday afternoon, due to the harassment they’ve been subjected to, they resorted to burning tires and setting empty water tanks ablaze so that the plumes of smoke would voice their protest against granting the Bahraini government the right to host the Formula One tournament.
Aali Village News @aakinews
Plumes of smoke rise above the #No_To_Formula_of_Blood operation site on the driving school street as mercenary forces arrive
5:25 PM – 17 Apr 2015
Deputy Director of the BCHR, Yousef Al-Mohafdha said: “What we feared actually happened. Organizing the race in Bahrain is an award that increases the regime’s appetite for committing violations. Dozens were arrested and others were injured by internationally banned shotgun pellets. That’s what we actually gained. Is this the Formula One’s message?”
Bahrain king, Hamad Bin Isa Al Khalifa, saw that the tournament helped reinforce Bahrain’s position on the international level and stressed that it proved its presence “among developed states”. Meanwhile, Prime Minister Khalifa Bin Salman Al Khalifa (in office since 44 years ago) considered the event an indication that the country is “enjoying security and stability.”
The organizers of the Formula One tournament have given the king and prime minister a new opportunity to claim that “Bahrain is stable and is not witnessing any human rights violations.” This is what foreign activists in Britain warned the Formula One management and participating teams of.
According to the New York Times, Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel said: “I haven’t seen anyone throwing bombs.” An image; however, that activists posted online shows a Bahraini man saving his son from a smog of tear gas that regime forces fired towards residential areas on the second day of the tournament.
Daih Media @daih_media
#Daih Al Khalifa mercenaries fire poisonous gas canisters at women and children #Bahrain
4:10 PM – 18 Apr 2015
Considering that the Formula One adopted a new policy, committing itself to monitoring potential human rights impacts of its activities on host countries, it is entitled to know that the abuses the Bahrainis are being subjected to intensify before and during the race, in order to silence any voices that might overshadow the engines’ roars.