Bahrain, Too Soon…


This seasons Formula One Grand Prix in Bahrain was postponed earlier this year due to the uprisings against King  Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa. Bahrain’s uprising was particularly violent with troops firing quite relentlessly on the demonstrators, who are rising up against the autocratic and monarchical system within the country. With a wave of rebellion spreading across the Middle East, Bahrain too sought out some form of democratization through political and constitutional concession. In February, demonstrators gathered at the Pearl Roundabout, calling for the end of the monarchy. The response from King Hamad however, was to use the royal army to massacre the protesters.

King Hamad has yet to concede power and the issues are unresolved. Problems are still quite apparent in Bahrain and rioting still prevalent, yet Bernie Ecclestone, President of Formula One Management, has today declared that the Bahrain Grand Prix will go ahead in October. Bernie must be hoping his crystal ball is on top form as belligerence between the army and the demonstrators shows little sign of relenting. With the Middle East and parts of North Africa seeming rather volatile at present, it seems a strange decision to take the risk in holding a Grand Prix in a state that has openly slaughtered innocents. However the FIA and the Formula One teams, especially Ferrari, face losing revenue to the sum of millions if they were to cancel. Ecclestone has strongly rejected claims that this rescheduling is about money.

With the riotous situation in Bahrain it seems rather a risky venture for Formula One. Touring sport has faced problems before within troubled nations. Most notably, England’s cricket team have refused to play in Zimbabwe due to a fear for the teams safety in the failed state under the Mugabe regime. Unless the trouble in Bahrain is resolved before October, then the Grand Prix could potentially put the drivers, mechanics,  journalists, and fans at risk. It will be interesting to see how the teams respond to this news and whether they go ahead with the race.

Potentially, the Grand Prix could create a unifying event to soothe tensions in the nation. But the merciless approach of King Hamad provide ample enough reason to not go ahead with the race. However, this move by the FIA could also potentially be viewed as one that endorses the actions of Bahrain’s monarchy. Bahrain in it’s current state, is not suitable to host a Grand Prix. It must be hoped that the FIA consider the severity of the situation, re-assess closer to October and are not just pressured into the decision to reschedule out of a fear of losing money.

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Justice?


Figureheads of repression and murder should be tried and dealt justice regardless of their health

Saturating the news at present are tales of endemic revolution in the Middle East and neighboring North Africa. Originating in Tunisia and spreading to the likes of Yemen, Egypt, Libya,  Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and Syria, this wildfire has spread at significant cost and caught the attention of the worlds media. Successful uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt have led to increased violence from leaders in nearby countries, out of fear, that they too, could succumb to the will of the citizens of the Arab world. Varying in severity, pro-governmental soldiers have employed any tactic necessary in order to deter protesters, leaving thousands dead. Yet in most cases, “the people” seem willing to risk bullets, truncheons and shrapnel, in their bid to free the Arab world from the bonds of repression, so many of these leaders have come to represent.

During the 2011 uprisings in Egypt that saw the end of Mubarak, over eight hundred people were killed. Upon his abdication, after significant external pressure, he went to stay in Sharm el-Sheikh. Mubarak, within days went from repressive autocrat to resident of the Red Sea Riviera (truly a deterring prospect for any Arab leader). Yet his health apparently deteriorated during his interrogation. If he is to be found guilty of authorizing violence towards anti-government protesters, he may face the death penalty. If Mubarak was healthy enough to authorize merciless slaughter of non-violent protesters then he should be trialled, regardless of his health. Preventing Mubarak from standing trial, which could result in execution, because of his poor health seems rather a kick-in-the-teeth for the families and friends of those he unashamedly murdered. Is this not just undermining the whole concept of justice?

Libya and Syria has seen some of the worst fighting and violence in response to these protests. Bashar al-Assad and Muammar Gaddafi have quite openly endorsed the murder of peaceful protesters; in Libya this has, of course, escalated to civil war and NATO intervention. Both leaders already have blood on their hands and are both quite open about supporting and sponsoring terrorism. To think that these men will not be brought to justice, for any reason (even health problems), must be quite sickening to any anti-government supporter. These leaders must be tried for their crimes, even on their death bed, to uphold any sense of justice.

Ratko Mladic, responsible for the Bosnian genocide, was captured last week and faces a trial at the Hague for war crimes. Yet, his lawyer is hoping to avoid such proceedings on account of Mladic’s declining health. At the time of writing, Mladic had been taken to the Hague, which is promising news. A man capable of such hatred and violence needs to be faced with what he has done and receive what he deserves. Saddam Hussein received a penalty befitting of the murder and persecution he had committed; even if it is not with his life, Mladic has to pay for what he has done.

Mubarak and Mladic still have supporters within their respective countries. Justice needs to be carried out, if for no-other reason than to demonstrate to these people their crimes and how they are viewed as punishable on the international stage in order to alter their opinion. Leaders who abuse power to serve their own ends and persecute their people should be tried, and suitably punished regardless of their medical status. Even if they are unable to stand or speak, their crimes still stand and are more than capable of doing the talking.

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