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F1 'ignoring' human rights abuses in Bahrain

Bahrain faces international scrutiny as human rights groups accuse the island kingdom of quashing protests.
Bahrain faces international scrutiny as human rights groups accuse the island kingdom of quashing protests. Credit: PA

Formula One organisers are "burying their heads in the sand" and putting the Grand Prix in Bahrain ahead of human rights abuses, Human Rights Watch claimed today.

The group said international racing bodies responsible for scheduling the race, which begins on Sunday, have taken no steps to address human rights violations linked to the event.

"The Formula 1 organisers apparently prefer to bury their heads in the sand, risking holding their race against repression it has provoked."

Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch

Bahrain criticised over Formula One protest arrests

Bahrain has been criticised by Amnesty International after several protesters were arrested during demonstrations ahead of Sunday's Formula One race.

We are seeing nothing but crackdowns and token gestures to clean up the country’s image

– Amnesty International statement

The human rights group warned that the Gulf Arab state was inviting a repeat of last year's violent Grand Prix clashes.

Bahrain's state news agency reported last night that a male suspect in custody had confessed to burning a car that had exploded in the country's financial district on April 14.

Four others were arrested in connection with stealing and burning a car and another person was detained over an accusation he blocked a main road and caused damage to a Bahraini's car.

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Government to respond to report 'in due course'

We welcome the Foreign Affairs Committee's report and their acknowledgement of the UK's strong record in upholding human rights across the world. We will respond fully to the report in due course.

Human rights are essential to and indivisible from our foreign policy objectives. They are part of our national DNA and are woven deeply into the decision-making processes of our foreign policy at every stage. We cannot achieve long term security and prosperity unless we uphold our values.

– Foreign Office spokesman

Government criticised for failing to boycott Bahrain F1

The Bahrain Grand Prix went ahead earlier this year. Credit: Reuters

The Government has been sharply criticised for refusing to back a boycott of the Bahrain Grand Prix over human rights concerns, despite implementing its own boycott of the Euro 2012 football championships in Ukraine.

The Commons Foreign Affairs Committee said it was difficult to find any "consistency of logic" in ministers' approach to the issue.

It said Bahrain should have been included by the Foreign Office on its list of "countries of concern" in the wake of the "brutal" suppression of anti-government protests last year.

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