“Bahrain’s authorities must not repeat past mistakes by restricting freedom of movement or crushing protests,” said Said Boumedouha, Amnesty International’s deputy director for the Middle East and North Africa, on Tuesday.
“The rights of people in Bahrain to peacefully to express their opposition to government policies and voice human rights concerns are legitimate and must be respected,” Boumedouha added.
The rights group says there are fears that Bahraini authorities could be using the unrest in the country to justify imposing further restrictions during the event.
“Rather than continuing to resort to security measures to deal with anti-government protests, Bahrain’s authorities should mark the Grand Prix by announcing concrete steps to address the dire state of human rights in the country,” said Said Boumedouha.
The Amnesty official further enumerated violations and abuses in the Persian Gulf kingdom, saying no constructive measure has been taken to improve the condition of human rights there.
“Three years on from the 2011 uprising, Bahrain has seen only cosmetic changes and empty promises of reform. Arbitrary arrests, crackdowns on protests and torture in custody continue unabated. Using the Grand Prix to boost Bahrain’s public image is little more than a blatant attempt to gloss over mounting abuses with the hype of an international sporting event,” he said.
Boumedouha also took to task Bahraini authorities for “brazenly flouting the rights of their own people.”
“The entrenched culture of impunity within Bahrain’s security forces means that, time and again, those responsible for torture and other serious violations are allowed to walk free. Instead of addressing current abuses, Bahrain’s authorities continue to seek international recognition through pursuits such as the Grand Prix while brazenly flouting the rights of their own people,” said Said Boumedouha.
Boumedouha’s remarks come as Bahrain’s main opposition bloc, the al-Wefaq National Islamic Society, called for a rally on the Budaiya highway west of Manama on Friday.
Anti-regime protesters have held similar rallies every year since 2011. Since mid-February 2011, thousands of pro-democracy protesters have held numerous demonstrations on the streets of Bahrain, calling for the Al Khalifa royal family to relinquish power.