The latest news from Democracy Now informs us that the Formula One race is to go ahead despite concerns for the life of Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja, the 50-year-old Bahraini human rights activist who has been on a hunger strike for more than two months. After all, Formula One chief Bernie Ecclestone has assured us that Bahrain is “very quiet and peaceful”.
Well, he might even be right to some extent. After all, Wednesday’s demonstrations in support of Khawaja were in Sitra, Jidhafs and Malikiyah, or in other words, just about far away from the race track and the capital to give Bernie a modicum of credibility. Furthermore, it is hardly likely that Mr Ecclestone, who doesn’t “get involved in politics in a country” , is really going to be too concerned that Zainab al-Khawaja, Abudulhadi’s daughter, is being continually harassed by the authorities or that Amnesty International’s latest press release concludes; “Despite the authorities’ claims to the contrary, state violence against those who oppose the Al Khalifa family rule continues, and in practice, not much has changed in the country since the brutal crackdown on anti-government protesters in February and March 2011.”
Bernie is not the only “monkey” though and when it comes to Bahrain there are certainly more than three. For instance, we have the former world champion Damon Hill who now thinks the race should go ahead, after he urged the authorities to reconsider only last week, and we have participants in a pro-celebrity golf tournament in the kingdom this weekend, who include, Tim Henman, Ruud Gullit and Gianluca Vialli and US Super Bowl winning quarterback Joe Montana. Yes, see nothing and the demonstrators will be kept well away from the golf course and the track, hear nothing, well maybe just the occasional bang, bang, but not the screams, and say nothing, or at least nothing that is going to hurt your pockets. Have never really found a decent English translation of the German word “Armutszeugnis.”