Formula One drivers urged to speak up for human rights in Bahrain

In a letter addressed to Hamilton and other F1 drivers ahead of the Bahrain Grand Prix, the European Centre for Democracy and Human Rights (ECDHR) sought their help in raising awareness about prominent human rights defender Abdulhadi al-Khawaja, who was sentenced to life in prison after participating in 2011 anti-government protests in Bahrain.

“This is of the utmost importance now that the FIA [Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile] wants to take power over how drivers can express themselves through the amendments made to FIA’s International Sporting Code for 2023, threatening to sanction all drivers who do not maintain a neutral stance on personal, political or religious matters,” ECDHR said in a statement on Wednesday.

The letter refers to a recent altercation between the motorsport racing federation and its drivers, after it updated its rules to prevent “political, religious or personal” remarks from being made without prior approval.

The FIA received immediate backlash from drivers, notably Hamilton, who vowed to continue speaking about issues he’s passionate about.

“I think we’ve come a long way. I think we’ve seen great progress, but there’s more to do and we are still going to places where there are still issues and I know there is work being done in those places, too, and these things can take time,” he told Sky News in an interview.

“I’m going to continue to be me and continue to fight for things that I am passionate about. I wouldn’t let anybody stop me from doing that.”

Sporting code

The FIA updated the sporting code last December, requiring drivers to get prior written permission to make or display “political, religious and personal statements or comments”.

Following the backlash, the FIA said drivers will be allowed to make political statements only in “exceptional” circumstances and in “their own space”, and outside of a race, via their social media channels or during an interview.

They will still face sanctions if they oppose the law while on track.In its letter to Hamilton, ECDHR urges the seven-time F1 champion to help raise awareness about al-Khawaja’s case and “spread messages of solidarity with those who are suffering at the hands of the Bahraini authorities”.

Related Articles

Back to top button