Bahrainis protest ahead of Formula One race

Bahraini people have held an anti-regime demonstration in the Persian Gulf kingdom ahead of the upcoming Formula One Grand Prix.

The demonstrators carried anti-Formula One banners reading, “Racing on Persecution” and chanted slogans against the race during their march in the village of Diraz, west of the capital, Manama, after Friday prayers.

The second round of the Formula 1 season is scheduled to take place in Bahrain this weekend.

Such protests have been held annually in recent years ahead of the major sport event.

Bahrainis slam the hosting of the Formula One race as a failed attempt to restore Manama’s international image.

Manama hopes the event will highlight progress and improvements in the country’s human rights situation.

The 2011 race was canceled amid a heavy crackdown on pro-democracy protests in the kingdom which left many people dead.

On the same occasion, Amnesty International condemned the Bahraini regime on Friday.

“Behind the fast cars and the victory laps lies a government that is tightening its chokehold on any remnant of dissent in the country by stepping up arrests, intimidation and harassment of political opposition, critics and activists,” said James Lynch, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa.

“The alarming erosion of human rights in Bahrain in recent years means that anyone who dares to criticize the authorities or call for reform risks severe punishment,” he said.

The UK-based rights group also denounced the Bahraini authorities for revoking the nationalities of many Bahrainis, describing it as an “unlawful measure to silence dissent.”

It also called on Bahrain to “to mark the Grand Prix by immediately and unconditionally releasing all prisoners of conscience held solely for peacefully expressing their views.”

“The modest reforms introduced after the 2011 uprising have demonstrably failed to live up to the hopes and promises they raised to protect and promote human rights,” Amnesty said.

Since mid-February 2011, thousands of anti-regime protesters have held numerous demonstrations on the streets of Bahrain, calling for the Al Khalifa family to relinquish power.

Scores of Bahrainis have been killed and hundreds of others injured and arrested in the ongoing crackdown on peaceful demonstrations.


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