Amnesty International: Bahrain hasn't changed

Amnesty: Bahrain hasn't changed
© PA Photos
Human rights campaigners Amnesty International claim that little has changed in Bahrain after Formula One's governing body made the decision to race there next weekend.

Human rights group Amnesty International has responded to the decision to race in Bahrain next weekend by saying that not much has changed in the Persian Gulf state.

Formula 1's governing body, the FIA, yesterday announced that the race would go ahead despite concerns raised by teams competing.

An Amnesty International report said: "Despite the authorities' claims to the contrary, state violence against those who oppose the Al Khalifa family rule continues. In practice, not much has changed in the country since the brutal crackdown on anti-government protesters in February and March 2011."

It was this "crackdown" that led to the 2011 race being cancelled and this year's event was in doubt because of team concerns until Friday.

"They are keen to portray Bahrain as a stable and secure country in order to stave off international criticism," the report added.

"But as the country prepares to host the Formula One Grand Prix after the event was cancelled last year in response to the instability in the country, daily anti-government protests continue to be violently suppressed by the riot police that uses tear gas recklessly and with fatal results.

"Acts of violence by some protesters against the police have also considerably increased in the last three months. Holding the grand prix in Bahrain in 2012 risks being interpreted by the government of Bahrain as symbolising a return to business as usual."

Owners of the Bahrain International Circuit expressed their delight at the FIA's decision to travel to the Persian Gulf following this weekend's Chinese Grand Prix.

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