Bloodshed feared as Bahrain Formula One grand prix given go-ahead
Anger as Bernie Ecclestone says Bahrain is ‘quiet and peaceful’ and ex-policeman John Yates claims it’s safer than London
Human rights activists fear further bloodshed and a violent crackdown by authorities in Bahrain after race organisers gave the green light to next weekend’s Formula One grand prix in the troubled Gulf kingdom.
As the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA) said it was satisfied that all proper security measures were in place for the race on 22 April, Nabeel Rajab, from the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights (BCHR), said: “I’m afraid we might see local people who will be killed in the coming days because of the F1.”
Anti-government protesters have called for the event to be cancelled, arguing that it lends legitimacy to a regime which continues to perpetrate human rights abuses.
The FIA, the sport’s governing authority, confirmed that it would go ahead, with beefed-up security, after receiving reassurances.
John Yates, the former assistant commissioner of the Met who is in Bahrain advising on police reform, wrote to the FIA president, Jean Todt, to say he felt safer living in Bahrain “than I have often felt in London”.
Bernie Ecclestone, 81, the F1 supremo, speaking at the Chinese Grand Prix in Shanghai, said of Bahrain: “I know people who live there, and it’s all very quiet and peaceful.”
The comments provoked a storm on social media sites as local activists said there were fears of a clampdown on protesters to prevent disruption to the event.
Pictured: Riot police in armoured personnel carriers fire tear gas at protesters during clashes after the funeral of Ahmed Ismaeel on Friday in the village of Salmabad, south of Manama, Bahrain. Photograph: Hamad I Mohammed/Reuters