Sir Jackie Stewart criticises calls to cancel F1 race

So its all right then! Sir Jackie has his finger on the pulse and has given us the all clear.  Sir Jackie – believes anyone calling for the Bahrain Grand Prix to be cancelled due to unrest in the Gulf state are “out of order”.  Its worth remebering that this time last year there was far more of a noise to cancel the Bahrain Grand Prix – so have things improved?

YES or NO?

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Rather than rely on Sir Jackie, lets hear from Amnesty International Middle East and North Africa Deputy Director Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui:-

“The authorities are trying to use the Grand Prix as a platform to show progress, with claims that the human rights situation has improved, whilst stepping up repression in order to ensure nothing disturbs their public image.

Instead of responding to the uprising of February 2011, the last two years have seen continued killings, arbitrary arrests and alleged torture in Bahrain. We are seeing nothing but crackdowns and token gestures to clean up the country’s image.  Families wait for justice for their killed relatives, opposition leaders languish in jail, and children are detained and tried under the anti-terrorism law.

The Bahraini government says the country is engaged in human rights reform. The onus is on them to demonstrate it. They should immediately release all prisoners of conscience, let demonstrators exercise their rights peacefully and allow unrestricted access to NGOs and journalists to monitor the situation around the Grand Prix.”

Amnesty International produced a full briefing on Bahrain this February. lets remeber a few facts:-

At least 72 people have been killed since protests broke out in February 2011.

Amnesty has adopted 20 individuals as prisoners of conscience – 14 have been in prison since they were arrested in 2011 and the rest were imprisoned in 2012.

At least 80 children are held in adult prisons in Bahrain for participating in protests.

Thirteen imprisoned opposition leaders, activists and prisoners of conscience lost their final court appeal this year and stand convicted of terrorism charges due to their role in the 2011 uprisings.

Quoting directly from the briefing

“Amnesty International considers all these individuals to be prisoners of conscience, held solely for having exercised their legitimate rights to freedom of expression, association and assembly. Unless immediate steps are taken to ensure accountability and the release of prisoners of conscience, recent institutional reforms and the national dialogue will be empty
exercises. It is vital that the Bahraini government immediately and unconditionally releases all prisoners of conscience, and upholds the rights to freedom of expression, association and
Amnesty International reiterates its call on the government to:
Immediately and unconditionally release all prisoners of conscience held solely for peacefully exercising their legitimate rights to freedom of expression, association and assembly;
lift restrictions on freedom of expression, association and assembly; and ensure that officials responsible for human rights violations, including the killings of protesters and the torture of detainees, are brought to justice.”

So, whilst it is highly unlikely that the Bahrain grand Prix will be cancelled, please remember that some of its people are prisoner of conscience – they still need your support.