On Sunday, Bahraini police arrested two American human rights workers, alongside 20 local activists who were protesting ahead of this weekend's Formula 1 Grand Prix. Bahrain will host the prestigious race, despite a record of killings, detention and torture during the regime's crackdown on pro-democracy protests.
Things aren't getting better
This isn't the first time that Bahrain's leadership has planned to host an international race while trying to crush its people's peaceful call for freedom. Just last spring, the 2011 Bahrain Grand Prix was called off only after local activists were joined by hundreds of thousands of global citizens, and some big name drivers, in demanding it be stopped.
More than a year later, the situation has hardly changed. Last week, activist Ahmed Ismaeel was killed during an anti-government protest: on Friday, his funeral ended in violence, as mourners clashed with police. All the same, it looks as though this time the Grand Prix will go ahead. Formula 1 boss Bernie Ecclestone has resisted calls to abandon the race, insisting: "It's all very quiet and peaceful."
That is not how it seems to many Bahrainis. Sunday's protest was non-violent, but police still dispersed the group with teargas, noise grenades and pepper spray. Tom Malinowski and Nadim Houry of Human Rights Watch were attending the demonstration as observers: police arrested them, together with a number of Bahraini activists. All were later released – but when security forces start arresting international observers at peaceful protests, it hardly seems like the time for a festive sporting event.
Take action: Let's not let Bahrain whitewash repression. The race is sponsored by Gulf Air. Let them know that we support freedom and democracy on their recently hacked Facebook page. And tell Ecclestone to stop polluting our sport with his politics.