News Release

The Other Race: Protests for a New Mideast in Bahrain Today

BBC is reporting: “Tens of thousands of anti-government protesters have blocked a major motorway in Bahrain ahead of Sunday’s F1 Grand Prix in the Gulf kingdom. Some in the crowd carried banners with the slogan: ‘Don’t race on our blood.’ The rally along Budaiya Highway followed a night of heavy clashes between demonstrators and security forces. Activists have demanded that F1 bosses cancel the race due to Bahrain’s poor human rights record. The race which was first run in Bahrain in 2004 was cancelled two years ago following the forcible clearance of an iconic Manama landmark, Pearl Roundabout. In the unrest that followed more than 50 people died, hundreds were arrested and thousands dismissed from their jobs.”

REEM KHALIFA, reemkhalifa17 at gmail.com@Reem_Khalifa
Khalifa just wrote the AP piece: “‘Don’t Race on our Blood’: Protesters Try to Put the Brakes on Bahrain’s Grand Prix.”

SAID YOUSIF AL-MUHAFDA, s.yousif1982 at gmail.com, @saidyousif
Al-Muhafda is with the Bahrain Center for Human Rights. He was recently jailed for a month for tweeting about protests in Bahrain. The president of the group, Nabeel Rajab, continues to be jailed by the regime. Al-Muhafda just wrote the piece: “Crackdown Intensifies Before F1 in Bahrain” for the Huffington Post, which states: “The United States is one of the countries supporting the Bahraini regime despite the Obama Administration’s claims to be on the side of democracy and human rights. Why does the administration often stay so silent on the situation in Bahrain and not announce its support for the legitimate demands of the Bahrainis for peaceful protest and self-determination? We know Bahrain hosts a major U.S. military base. That is why it is so important for them to speak up for us and to say that we are people who deserve democracy. Bahrainis want to enjoy it as U.S. citizens do. We want to express our opinions and to elect our officials. Our unelected prime minister has not been changed for 42 years, unlike the United States, where Americans practice their right to elect a President every four years.

“We are gradually being killed in Bahrain by international silence for our crime of demanding self-determination. As the F1 race commences, we ask that you look beyond the track. We ask that you look into the streets of Bahrain, where those who want democracy are in a race against time for their lives and freedom.” Also, See New York Times piece: “Bahrain Jails Activist for Covering Protests on Twitter.”

HUSAIN ABDULLA, mohajer12@comcast.net
Abdulla is director of Americans for Democracy and Human Rights in Bahrain.

Further background from Human Rights Watch: “Bahrain: F1 Ignores Rights Abuses Ahead of Race.” Also, “GCC Force ‘Plans Headquarters in Bahrain.’” Video of recent protests.