SHAFAQNA – Thousands of demonstrators took to the streets of Bahrain Friday (April 17, 2015) to protest against the Formula 1 Grand Prix which kicked off in the Bahrain International Circuit south of the capital Manama, stressing that the tournament is being used as a cover-up for ongoing human rights violations in the island kingdom.
In the town of Diraz, protesters held posters of Formula 1 racecars that read slogans, demanding democracy, equality and the release of political prisoners. Demonstrators also voiced their concern over the detainees who protested in Jaw Central Prison, stressing that they are in danger, for they have been the target of a retaliatory brutal attack by regime forces over the past month.
Human Rights organizations have issued reports condemning the Bahraini regime’s rampant human rights abuses. “As the world’s eyes fall on Bahrain during the Grand Prix this weekend, few will realize that the international image the authorities have attempted to project of the country as a progressive reformist state committed to human rights masks a far more sinister truth,” said Said Boumedouha, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director of the Middle East and North Africa Programme.
Anti-Formula 1 protestors marched through the towns on the outskirts of Manama, in which authorities have banned organizing demonstrations after the government clampdown on protesters camping in the Pearl Roundabout (March 16, 2011) that was backed by Saudi forces.
Demonstrators called for putting an end to the rule of the Al Khalifa family and immediate release of Al-Wefaq Secretary-General Sheikh Ali Salman and prominent opposition leaders who have been imprisoned for the past four years.