On the Bahrain F1 Grand Prix

April 20th, 2012 § 0 comments § permalink

Damon Hill, the ex-F1 driver, has written piece in the Guardian about F1’s decision to go ahead with the GP in Bahrain. I’m not sure what he’s trying to say, but I think it comes down to ‘things would’ve been worse if it had been cancelled’.

After a bit of preamble about how F1 is the ‘bad boy’ of sport for various reasons, including money, spying, cheating, Damon says this…

Formula One does not, cannot, and has never existed in total isolation from the general concerns of humanity. In this sense, the sport is always on the edge of politics. The moment something becomes an issue for all of us, it is a political issue. So the question is this; is the Bahrain Grand Prix now an issue for all of us? Or is it more accurate to ask; are Bahraini politics an issue for all of us?

Sport, is and it isn’t political. Sportsmen and women always say they don’t want to get involved, they just want to run around and win their medal or laurels or whatever shiny bits they get handed after going faster, higher, further than anyone else.

I think sport becomes political when it goes international, no matter how hard the team/event/governing body tries to keep out of it.

You can have domestic competitions and it’s just between yourselves. As soon as you have an international event, the competitors are approving you. They are saying ‘You’re ok, we don’t mind being associated with you.’

The bigger, more prestigious the event, the bigger the stamp of approval.

The Bahrain Grand Prix isn’t an issue for all of us. It makes no odds tome if the F1 circus goes to Bahrain. It should matter to the F1 people. Do you really want to be associated with that type of regime? Do you really want to lend your credibility as a respectable sport to such a regime as that?

Bahraini politics is an issue for all of us. Everyone that cares about their fellow man at least. The same applies to China, Syria, Burma and all the rest.

The critical question for F1 is whether it has made the right decision to insist on returning to Bahrain in these times. There are three main considerations for the FIA to make; security, politicisation, and the reputation of its blue riband event, F1.

On security, they insist that it is satisfactory, having consulted the people responsible and after taking advice at the highest level. But they do not deny that there is a risk.

Security should be the last question asked, not the first. If the answer to the other questions lead you to conclude that it is ok for F1 to go to Bahrain, then you ask ‘is it safe’.

On whether the FIA event is being conscripted into a political battle to support one side over the other, it is not clear. Many say that this is how it looks. The event is subtitled as UniF1ing Bahrain, so strictly speaking it is trying to appear to be good for the whole nation of Bahrain. The trouble is there are many Bahrainis who disagree about what is good for Bahrain, hence their calls for democracy.

F1 might not be conscripted, but in going ahead with the GP it is being a useful idiot. “uniF1ing Bahrain” may sound good, and it might work in a country that isn’t experiencing all the upheaval Bahrain is. In Bahrain though, it is a political message. The equivalent of ‘we can’t we all get along’. Even if the whole country loved Formula 1, a mutual love of the sport isn’t going to stop peaceful protest being dispersed with live ammunition. It’s a distraction.

Article 1 of the FIA statutes says: “The FIA shall refrain from manifesting racial, political or religious discrimination in the course of its activities and from taking any action in this respect.” So far it has not manifested anything other than a desire for the race to take place. However, could holding a race that is becoming a divisive issue for a country, if not for the sport also, constitute “taking action in this respect”?

Well, seeing as this race cannot take place without the sanction of the government, I don’t see how it cannot be political. F1 will be bringing money and cedibility to a brutal regime.

A problem in the lead-up to this event was the apparent collusion of Formula One with the promoters in promulgating the view that Bahrain only had a small issue with a few unruly youths. This I regarded as a very clear case of understatement. It was the view of Bahrain that Bahrain would like the world to buy. And it was going to use F1 to help it. This was the point at which I expressed my concerns about this situation. For me, the FIA was dangerously close to appearing totally naive, misinformed or, worse, taking the side that would like to underplay the humanitarian, social and security situation in Bahrain. Sure enough, the international community has had quite a lot to say about what is going on in Bahrain since. This was so inevitable that I am still trying to understand why the FIA did not take the initiative by making at least some comment that indicated it understood the difficulty of the situation.


Jean Todt, the president of the FIA, has been consistent in taking the stance of not saying anything that could be construed as political. So he has said next to nothing.

This I find baffling. Surely it is possible to condemn acts of inhumanity without taking a side?

No, is the simple answer. If you condemn the act, you are implicitly, if not explicitly condemning the actor. That is why Jean Todt has said nothing. If he condemn acts of inhumanity by the rulers of Bahrain, that is millions of lost dollars for F1. Everything has a price.

The Khalifas asked for the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI) themselves. Is it political to avoid religious, political and racial discrimination? Surely these are universal human values?

Cherif Bassiouni, the chairman of the BICI, managed to do the report and advocate the GP went ahead for the overarching good of the people. He wrote to Todt in February saying: “Aside from the economic, publicity and public relations advantages that the grand prix brings to Bahrain, it is, on this one-year anniversary of the February-March events of last year, an important point of departure for the people of Bahrain to forge ahead in their national efforts towards reconciliation.”

The people of Bahrain would find it a lot easier to reconciliate with the government if the latter weren’t so, erm, oppressive. Because if this continued oppression, the Bahrain government sees the arrival of the GP as A Good Thing for the reasons Bassiouni gives above, especially the PR value the GP gives them.

At the centre is this extraordinary man, Bernie Ecclestone, who few dare to publicly disagree with. Perhaps we should, instead of just muttering under our breath, scared of losing our passes.

Yes, Damon. Yes you should.

But the problem is also, quite often, he is absolutely right, despite his pithy way of communicating. Take this quote: “Do you think that if we cancel the Formula One that all the problems will just disappear?” The answer to that is clearly: “No. They wouldn’t.” They would just be starting.

The problems are there whether F1 is there or not. If Formula One does go though, the Bahrain regime wouldn’t benefit from the credibility of being able to say “How bad can we be? Everything is fine. Look, we’re even hosting major sporting events.”

The problems wouldn’t disappear, but F1 wouldn’t be part of the problem.

Frank Gardner, security correspondent for the BBC, has said some in Bahrain feel that “if the grand prix were to be called off then the Sunni community would be so enraged it would be harder than ever to bridge the gap between government and opposition.” I think that rather confirms the view of Bahrain as more than a little tense and that the issue is not so simple as it looks.

Doesn’t what Frank Gardener say concern you, Damon? Some people think that if the GP doesn’t go ahead, life could get very difficult for a section of the population. Doesn’t that tell something about the regime? Isn’t that enough of a reason to say “y’know what? i don’t what to be associated with these bullies.”

How does that make you feel, knowing that if you don’t race, teh proverbial kitteh gets it?

Above all, it’s the FIA/F1’s choice. At best hosting F1 will do no harm. At worst, the F1 will be giving respectability to a regime that doesn’t deserve it. If they can live with that, then fine.

The real reason F1 is going to Bahrain, and let’s not be shy about this, is money. As i said earlier, everything and everyone has a price.

Travellers and Human Rights from Amanda Platell

October 22nd, 2011 § 0 comments § permalink

Amanda Platell on the ‘real’ victims of Dale Farm

One of the ruses employed by travellers to remain on the site was to claim that their children had a human right to an education at the local school.

But the truth is that the influx of traveller children put such a strain on Crays Hill Primary that all the other local children were withdrawn by their parents. The headteacher and the board of governors also resigned.

Today, the 110-strong school register is made up almost entirely of travellers, with the exception of three pupils.

oh noes! Not the dreaded ‘Human Rights’!

Platell finishes with this…

The tragedy is that while the gipsy children have been given their precious ‘human right’ to an education, the children of Basildon tax- payers have scandalously been denied their right to one.

How have these brave Basildonians been denied their right to an education? The kids haven’t been told to fuck off to another school to make way for traveller children. The parents may have removed their kids from a school but if they haven’t made sure they get in to another then they are the ones denying their kids an education, not the travellers.

As for the standard of education at Crays Hill Primary, with so many poorly performing pupils, there must be some sort of help it could’ve got. I don’t know how these things work, as with many things, but there must be something.

Amanda Platell. Going for the easy targets of Human Rights and the people who need them most.


On stopping the export of executions and how it’s paid for

November 18th, 2010 § 1 comment § permalink

So, Legal Aid is being used pay for a Judicial Review on the decision by Vince Cable not to block an export licence for the UK company to export to the USA a drug used in executions.

The review is being brought o behalf of two death row prisoners by Reprieve who…

Reprieve uses the law to enforce the human rights of prisoners, from death row to Guantánamo Bay.

We investigate, we litigate and we educate, working on the frontline, providing legal support to prisoners unable to pay for it themselves. We promote the rule of law around the world, and secure each person’s right to a fair trial. And in doing so, we save lives.

Without looking into them further, they sound quite an admirable organisation.

But, on the the point of using Legal Aid for this review, fair enough. The UK government, in allowing this export, is complicit in the execution of prisoners. These two guys on death row do not have the means to challenge Vinces’ decision. It is a UK company, enabled by the UK government that is knowingly providing the means for these executions to go ahead. It is only right that this should be challenged.

The UK doesn’t extradite to suspects to countries when, if found guilty, the result is execution. So what is the difference between exporting people to their deaths and exporting the means when it is known it will be used for executions? None.

The reason for allowing the export of this drug?

“Sodium thiopental is a medicine. Its primary use is as an anaesthetic … Legitimate trade of medical value would be affected by any restriction on the export of this product from the UK.” Any ban would be ineffective, he added, because supplies could be obtained from elsewhere.

Try changing what’s being exported from a drug to weapons. Would the government allow the export of weapons, whose primary and legitimate use is for defence against invaders, to a country that was shooting up it’s own people? (Ok, the government probably does, but you get the idea.)

And the reason that supplies could be obtained from eslewhere anyway is just risable that it hardly needs rebutting. The point would be that we, as a country would not be part of something that we are supposedly against.

This then, the actions that Reprieve are taking and how it is funded, I think is A Good Thing.

Gay asylum seekers

July 6th, 2010 § 1 comment § permalink

The Home Office has been accused of being frivolous about asylum seekers wanting refuge because of they’re sexuality.

Many are from countries where homosexuality is unacceptable – such as Iran, Cameroon and other African nations.

Alexandra McDowall, the UNHCR’s legal officer in London, says the discretion test “introduces an element that shouldn’t be there”.

She says it forces failed gay and lesbian applicants to live “under a veil of secrecy” back home.

People facing threats because of their sexuality count as a “protected group,” alongside those facing religious or political persecution, she adds.

The Home Office have denied telling gay asylum seekers to ‘man up’.

One refugee this blog spoke to, known only as HP, said…

They told me to be a man and stop whinging. They said that my life would be a lot more exciting back in my own country, better than the daily drudge here in Britian. I would be like a spy, living a double life. “Who doesn’t want to be like James Bond, they said.”

Another asylum seeker, currently waiting to hear the result of his appeal on his failed application was told to “learn to keep a fucking secret”.

When approached for comment, an unofficial Home Office spokesman said…

Get teh fuck out my face, faggot

All it needs is bin Laden to show his face

August 14th, 2009 § 0 comments § permalink

What the difference between who was running Afghanistan beforethe US/UK went in and now?

Before we went in the Afghan rulers were hardly officially recognised internationally.

The Guardian

Afghanistan has quietly passed a law permitting Shia men to deny their wives food and sustenance if they refuse to obey their husbands’ sexual demands, despite international outrage over an earlier version of the legislation which President Hamid Karzai had promised to review.

The new final draft of the legislation also grants guardianship of children exclusively to their fathers and grandfathers, and requires women to get permission from their husbands to work.

“It also effectively allows a rapist to avoid prosecution by paying ‘blood money’ to a girl who was injured when he raped her,” the US charity Human Rights Watch said.

Craig Murray press release

April 27th, 2009 § 0 comments § permalink


Thatcher Room
Portcullis House
Tuesday 28 April 1.45pm
Formal Evidence Session on UK Complicity in Torture
Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights
Witness: Craig Murray, former British Ambassador to Uzbekistan
(currently Rector of the University of Dundee).

In 2004, Craig Murray told us that:

– The British Government was complicit in the most vicious forms of torture
– He had been the victim of a lurid smear campaign initiated by New Labour
– The government was lying about all this

In 2004, much of the public and media was not willing to accept that the government would cooperate with torture or with false allegations against an innocent man. Many still had trust in the basic honesty and decency of government.

The evidence that Craig Murray was telling the truth about torture has now become overwhelming, including from the case of Binyam Mohammed. The UK “benefited” continually from intelligence passed on from the CIA waterboarding programme and from torture in countries including Uzbekistan, Pakistan and Egypt.

Craig Murray suffered the most high profile sacking of any British Ambassador for a century. But in 2005 the House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee refused to hear him in evidence, despite allowing Jack Straw to appear and attack him.

Astonishingly, this is the first time Craig Murray will ever have been allowed to give formal evidence in the UK on his grave allegations, and be questioned on the truth of his testimony.

As the Scotland Yard investigation proceeds into MI5 and MI6 collusion in 16 cases of torture, Craig Murray will argue that it is not the security service operatives, but the Ministers who set the policy – and specifically Jack Straw – who should be facing criminal charges.

Contact: Craig Murray on 07979 691085 or craigmurray@mail.ru
Transcript of Craig Murray’s formal evidence statement is at http://www.craigmurray.org.uk/archives/2009/03/trying_again_my.html

FCO Finally Admits To Receiving Intelligence From Torture

March 28th, 2009 § 0 comments § permalink

Craig Murray

This is the most important blog post I have ever made. I would be grateful if you could do everything in your power to disseminate a link to anyone you know who has the remotest interest in human rights – or should have. This blog will be silent for a few days now.

Tucked away at Page 15 of its annual Human Rights report, the FCO has finally made a public admission of its use of intelligence from torture. Despite the Orwellian doublespeak about “unreserved condemnation of torture”, this is the clearest statement the government has ever made that it, as a policy, employs intelligence from torture.

Read the rest.

Via D-Notice

Just not interested

March 15th, 2009 § 1 comment § permalink

Participation in politics is well, disappointing. People do not give a toss because they think there is no point. No ones going to listen to what they have to say or what they think.

There is a lot of truth in that. and here is just one example of that

Emails sent by members of the public to the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights were deleted by the committee without even being read. Two people who happened to have enabled tracking sent me the following two automated repllies they received:

Your message

To: Joint Committee On Human Rights
Subject: Craig Murray:
Sent: Fri, 6 Mar 2009 20:51:41 -0000

was deleted without being read on Fri, 13 Mar 2009 10:46:42 -0000


Your message

To: Joint Committee On Human Rights
Cc: craig murray
Subject: Torture evidence on 10 March
Sent: Thu, 5 Mar 2009 14:47:36 -0000

was deleted without being read on Fri, 13 Mar 2009 10:46:42 -0000

Note the identical time of deletion. Evidently people’s emails were not even deleted individually but selected as a group and deleted en masse.

This is a shame because there was no template and people made some very telling individual points. Plainly people put time and thought into attempting to participate actively in a key part of a supposedly democratic process. It is a disgrace that these emails were deleted unread. Is the UK really a democracy now?

Follow the link for some of the letters sent.

The evidence of Craig Murray needs to be heard

March 4th, 2009 § 0 comments § permalink

Craig Murray: Your Help Needed – Reveal Torture to Stop It

On Tuesday 10 March the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights will discuss whether or not to hear my evidence on the UK government’s policy of using intelligence from torture. They discussed whether to hear my evidence on 3 March but failed to reach a conclusion.

The government is lobbying hard for my exclusion. I need everybody to send an email to jchr@parliament.uk to urge that I should be allowed to give evidence. Just a one-liner would be fine. If you are able to add some comment on the import of my evidence, or indicate that you have heard me speak or read my work, that may help. Please copy your email to craigjmurray@tiscali.co.uk.

Please also pass on this plea to anyone you can and urge them to act. Help from other bloggers in posting this appeal would be much appreciated.

The evidence I am trying to give the parliamentary committee is this:

I wish to offer myself as a witness before the Joint Commission on Human Rights on the subject of the UK government’s policy on intelligence cooperation with torture abroad.

I appeared as a witness in person before both the European Parliament and European Council’s enquiries into extraordinary rendition. My evidence was described by the European Council’s Rapporteur, Senator Dick Marty, as “Compelling and valuable”

Read the rest.

I’m not much of a letter writer, as you might have gathered from reading this blog, but my letter goes as follows:

To: jchr@parliament.uk
cc: craigjmurray@tiscali.co.uk
Subject: The evidence of Craig Murray

Dear Sir,
I write to urge you to hear Craig Murrays’ evidence on the use of intelligence gained through the use of torture.

As Craig was the Ambassador to Uzbekistan from 2002 to 2004, he was regularly seeing information from detainees that was gained through torture.

When Craig raised the issue, that it was illegal and immoral, he was dismissed. Now the government would like Craig not to appear at your committee to try and keep the fact that the UK government was/is complicit in torture.

You, the committee, need to hear Craigs’ evidence to bring to light the appalling things that were done to people in the name of ‘security’ and to hold to account those responsible.



Update: When you send your email, you may get an out of office reply. Apparently the emails are still being received and circulated.

And, they’re off!

January 21st, 2009 § 0 comments § permalink

teh Guardian:

The US president, Barack Obama, looked set to suspend the controversial Guantánamo Bay military tribunals, in one of his first actions after being sworn in yesterday.

Within hours of taking office, Obama’s administration filed a motion to halt the war crimes trials for 120 days, until his new administration completes a review of the much-criticised system for trying suspected terrorists.

The halt to the tribunals was sought “in the interests of justice,” the official request to the judges said.

An excellent first move, I must say. Especially if he’s going to hit them targets.

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