F1 should not become an instrument of oppression of the Bahrain government

Max Mosley, former president of the FIA, says Formula 1 should not host the Bahrain Grand Prix, and become a tool of the government and thus an instrument of oppression.

Max Mosley is the former president of the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA)

One of the problems for international sports bodies is the regrettable need to overlook human rights violations. Without a blind eye to acts which would be a breach of, say, the European Convention on Human Rights, there would be very few countries where you could sanction sporting competitions. This includes at least one close ally of the United Kingdom.

So when, if at all, should a sports federation draw the line and refuse to hold an event? I suggest this should be when the event is going to be used by a country’s government to help suppress dissent or otherwise breach human rights.

When that happens, a sport becomes part of the machinery of government rather than mere entertainment. This is happening in Bahrain. It is quite clear that the government’s main reason for wanting to hold the grand prix is to give the impression that all is well.

Sport does have a political function. It can draw together groups and factions, even countries, which are otherwise at loggerheads.

Motor sport has many examples of this: a World Championship rally criss-crossing the border in Ireland with the support of both communities; rallies in the Lebanon producing a temporary truce during the civil war; similar effects a few years ago in the Balkans; there is even an Israeli presence in the Middle-East Rally Championship, although, for understandable reasons, it is not obvious.

However, an essential element of all this is neutrality. A sport cannot take sides or even be more closely associated with one side than the other. It can act as a catalyst for peace but must never be partisan. The fact that the report of the representative the FIA sent to Bahrain makes no mention of visiting the Shiite villages, or interviewing detainees or seeking the views of reputable organisations like Amnesty International, speaks for itself.

It is worth remembering that the trouble in Bahrain began with peaceful protest. The crowds were not seeking the removal of the ruling family, merely a move towards democracy and rights for the Shiite majority comparable to those enjoyed by the Sunni ruling elite.

These modest demands were met with brutal repression. Demonstrators were shot dead. Protesters were imprisoned and, according to credible reports, hideously mistreated and in some cases tortured or even killed. Doctors and nurses who treated the injured were themselves arrested and imprisoned.

And when even these extreme measures failed to crush the protests, the Bahrain government called in troops from neighbouring Saudi Arabia to eliminate all opposition by the use of naked force.

There are now reports of 47 doctors and nurses being put on trial, accused of treating injured demonstrators. Even in war, enemy prisoners are not denied medical treatment.

It is understandable that the Bahrain government now wants to clean up its image and distract attention from what is going on. And a major sporting event, shown on television all over the world, is ideal for this purpose. But Formula One should not allow itself to be used in this way.

To take part in this deception is to become a tool of the Bahrain government and thus an instrument of oppression. No sport should allow that to happen.

27 Responses to “F1 should not become an instrument of oppression of the Bahrain government”

  1. Sam Jole

    F1 should not become an instrument of oppression of the Bahrain government: http://bit.ly/jZlTBd writes Max Mosley

  2. AJCsSportingHeroes

    F1 should not become an instrument of oppression of the Bahrain government – Left Foot… http://goo.gl/fb/ufpSb

  3. Stephen

    F1 should not become an instrument of oppression of the Bahrain government: http://bit.ly/jZlTBd writes Max Mosley

  4. Media of Truth

    #F1 should not become an instrument of oppression of the #Bahrain government
    الفورمولا1 يجب أن لا تكون أداة للقمع… http://fb.me/12AvdzuBF

  5. طائفتي بحرينية

    RT @leftfootfwd: #F1 should not become an instrument of oppression of the #Bahrain gov http://bit.ly/leAHvo @Formula1_com

  6. طائفتي بحرينية

    RT @leftfootfwd: #F1 should not become an instrument of oppression of the #Bahrain gov http://bit.ly/leAHvo @RT_com @Reuters @AmberLyon

  7. طائفتي بحرينية

    RT @leftfootfwd: #F1 should not become an instrument of oppression of the #Bahrain gov http://bit.ly/leAHvo @washingtonpost @whitehouse

  8. طائفتي بحرينية

    RT @leftfootfwd: #F1 should not become an instrument of oppression of the #Bahrain gov http://bit.ly/leAHvo @WilliamJHague @simeonkerr

  9. طائفتي بحرينية

    RT @leftfootfwd: #F1 should not become an instrument of oppression of the #Bahrain gov http://bit.ly/leAHvo @acarvin @ABC @HornickCNN

  10. jam sae

    #F1 should not become an instrument of oppression of the #Bahrain government الفورمولا1 يجب أن لا تكون أداة للقمع… http://fb.me/12AvdzuBF

  11. The Darker

    #F1 should not become an instrument of oppression of the #Bahrain government
    الفورمولا1 يجب أن لا تكون أداة للقمع… http://fb.me/12AvdzuBF

  12. zoom master

    #F1 should not become an instrument of oppression of the #Bahrain government الفورمولا1 يجب أن لا تكون أداة للقمع… http://fb.me/12AvdzuBF

  13. ..

    #F1 should not become an instrument of oppression of the #Bahrain government
    الفورمولا1 يجب أن لا تكون أداة للقمع… http://fb.me/12AvdzuBF

  14. hazerd

    #F1 should not become an instrument of oppression of the #Bahrain government الفورمولا1 يجب أن لا تكون أداة للقمع… http://fb.me/12AvdzuBF

  15. Claire French

    Allowing #F1 race to go ahead is helping the Bahraini government's suppression, says Max Mosley on @leftfootfwd http://bit.ly/mrEN9N

  16. S Hilf

    Allowing #F1 race to go ahead is helping the Bahraini government's suppression, says Max Mosley on @leftfootfwd http://bit.ly/mrEN9N

  17. Zahra

    #F1 should not become an instrument of oppression of the Bahrain government http://t.co/PKzm3JM #Bahrain #feb14 #lulu #BPR #14feb #Formula1

  18. Michael

    F1 should not become an instrument of oppression of the Bahrain government – http://bit.ly/j0BF0T

  19. Robert

    Let the race go on, may as well I’m sure Blair is around somewhere sorting out the fiancial bits and bobs. Brown will be working out if he can get a job as a driver, and Purnell will be asking if any benefit cheats are present.

    I really do not care anymore or expect any thing difefrent.

  20. sfshiraz

    RT @leftfootfwd: #F1 should not become an instrument of oppression of the #Bahrain government http://t.co/tXl3y8i

  21. David Holloway

    Holding the Grand Prix will be a catalyst for demonstrations which will inevitably turn ugly. People will die and F1’s reputation tarnished. It should not go ahead.

  22. Shamik Das

    Spot on! RT @leftfootfwd: F1 should not become an instrument of oppression of the Bahrain government: http://bit.ly/jZlTBd writes Max Mosley

  23. Polleetickle

    Allowing #F1 race to go ahead is helping the Bahraini government's suppression, says Max Mosley on @leftfootfwd http://bit.ly/mrEN9N

  24. Yousif Abdullatif

    Bahrain has been terrorized by group of racist called themselves peaceful protesters backed up by extremist religious leaders. these group killed policemen, innocent people locals and foreign nationals. International media have to make a stand and listen to majority of Bahrain people who gathered in Alfateh center (check youtube) more then 300,000 people resented the violent actions of these protestors.
    Total death of all is 28. 8 are policemen and 4 innocent citizens and 16 protestors after violent clashes over 2 months.
    we are amazed how can anybody can make a statement that it was a peaceful movement!

  25. Laurence Turner

    Bit of a scoop! Max Mosley writes a rather good article on sport and human rights for @leftfootfwd http://t.co/JPks7VC

  26. Haithem

    If it all, F1 is held in bahrain, it will be held in October. The National dialogue that the bahraini government is planning to start is on July 1st. The F1 is the prefect target date for the dialogue to end. Besides the economic reasons, F1 should be held in bahrain because then that would put pressure on the government to end this deadlock and put in its best effort at resolving the current crisis before the F1 is held. No F1, No Target Date

  27. Mehdi

    It is initially an unforgivable mistake that FIA agreed­ to reschedule the Bahraini GP to October 30th 2011. To­ cancel it was and is a duty to the managers and leaders­ of FIA. Bahrain’s Al Khalifa regime’s­ despicable atrocities against the defenceless majority­ who merely came to the streets to ask for basic human­ rights should not be applauded by FIA or any other­ major international sporting organisation.

    Sports­ should be a symbol of unity and equality and basic­ human rights, not a platform for totalitarian dictators­ to show their supposedly “kind” face to the­ world and gain millions of dollars!

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