Bahrain Grand Prix must be cancelled says group of prominent British peers

A group of leading British peers has written an open letter to The Times calling on the FIA, motorsport’s world governing body, to cancel April’s Bahrain Grand Prix.

The race is the subject of intense speculation as the anniversary of last year’s civil uprising approaches on Feb 14.
The 2011 Bahrain Grand Prix was initially postponed and then cancelled altogether in the wake of the violence which claimed at least 34 lives.
The letter coincides with a report in the Gulf Daily News that a 51 year-old Briton, Peter Morrissey, had two fingers cut off by sword-wielding robbers in Karranah, which is near Manama.
The authorities in Bahrain are trying to stem a tide of negative publicity and have called for calm, insisting that reports of unrest have been exaggerated and in some cases, twisted.
The Inspector-General of the Ministry of Interior issued a report this week into allegations made by Mr Nabeel Rajab, President of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights, that he was attacked an beaten up by police officers.
It concluded that the allegations were false.
The Bahrain authorities have also refuted suggestions that foreign journalists are not being allowed into the country ahead of the anniversary.
They point out that Bahrain’s King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa commissioned a fully independent report into last year’s uprising, which uncovered multiple cases of human rights abuses, and is now acting upon its recommendations.
Nevertheless, the open letter, which was signed by Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon, Lord Ahmed of Rotherham, Lord Alton, Lord Avebury, Baroness Falkner of Margravine, Lord Hylton, Caroline Lucas and Lord Boswell, says that two months after the report was published there has been “an entrenchment of the positions of both sides”.
“Sir, We note with concern the decision by Formula One to go ahead with the race in Bahrain scheduled for April,” it begins.
“The continued political crisis in Bahrain is a troubling source of instability in the Gulf region, and the lack of any move towards political reconciliation concerns those who wish to see Bahrain move in the direction of greater democratic accountability.
“It was hoped that the recommendations of the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI) would provide a starting point for political reform which both government and opposition forces could agree upon.
“However, two months on we see an entrenchment of the positions of both sides which risks letting more extreme voices dictate the progress of the conflict.
“Given the current dire situation, with daily street protests and the deaths of more civilians, we do not believe that the time is right for Formula One to return to Bahrain.
“Bahrain is a major trading hub and financial centre in the Middle East but this brings greater responsibility.
"Human rights and economic stability go hand in hand and the government of Bahrain must do more to persuade international events and corporations that Bahrain is a stable place to do business.
“Until it takes concerted measures to reform the electoral, penal and judicial processes, international observers as well as ordinary Bahrainis can have little confidence that Bahrain is on the path to reform and political stability.
“We urge the FIA to reconsider its decision to continue with the race.”
Last month, Formula One’s chief executive Bernie Ecclestone suggested that the troubles in Bahrain were nothing to be concerned about.
"Everyone talks a lot about this part of the world, but Bahrain is the country in the region where there are the fewest problems," he said in an interview with the Salzburger Nachrichten newspaper.
Teams have so far said they will trust in the FIA and the commercial rights holder to make the right decision on whether or not to attend the April 22 race.