Bahrain Grand Prix – Green Light for Repression or Reconciliation?

The FIA released the following statement today

‘Following a fact-finding mission undertaken at the request of FIA President Jean Todt, FIA Vice-President Carlos Gracia visited Bahrain on 31 May, 2011 to assess the situation in the country. Meetings were conducted with the Ministry of Interior, the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, the Bahrain Motor Federation and Bahrain International Circuit, as well as other national and international organisations including Mr. Tariq Al Saffar at the National Institute of Human Rights. It should be noted that the recent announcement by the King of Bahrain has established a political dialogue and reconciliation process.

‘After considering all the factors and taking into consideration all stakeholders’ concerns, the WMSC unanimously agreed to reinstate the Bahrain Grand Prix in the 2011 FIA Formula One World Championship.

‘This decision reflects the spirit of reconciliation in Bahrain, which is evident from the strong support the race receives from the government and all major parties in Bahrain, including the largest opposition group, all of whom endorse the F1 grand prix and motorsport in the country. ‘

According to Channel 4 News Jasim Husain a spokesman for the largest opposition group said “We at Wefaq support hosting the event. It will force all the stakeholders to come together to find solutions ahead of the event. It would bring indirect pressure on all parties; people could be released from jail in advance.”

Draw your own conclusions.

A cycle of locking people up one year and releasing them the next does not show a continuous process of reform and democratisation. The king needs to show before the Grand Prix a roadmap to democracy and the exit of its unpopular and unlected prime minister, and a move away from a rentier state model, or no-one will be fooled and this could be the last grand prix of the pearl island.

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