Hamilton backs action on human rights issues as F1 hits Bahrain

Published November 27, 2020, 9:43 AM

by Agence France-Presse

Mercedes’ British driver Lewis Hamilton answers reporters during the presser ahead of the Bahrain Formula One Grand Prix at the Bahrain International Circuit in the city of Sakhir on November 26, 2020. (Photo by Mario RENZI / FIA / AFP)

Lewis Hamilton returned to work as a seven-time champion on Thursday and immediately urged Formula One to take real action on human rights issues in “some of the places that we go to”.

Speaking ahead of this weekend’s Bahrain Grand Prix, an event that was cancelled in 2011 following the suppression of pro-democracy protests during the Arab Spring uprisings, Hamilton said he wanted to see change.

“The human rights issue in some of the places that we go to is a consistent and a massive problem and I think it’s very, very important,” he said. 

“I think it showed this year how important it is for not only us as a sport, but all the sports around the world to utilise the platforms they have to push for change.

“We are probably one of the only ones actually that goes to so many different countries and I do think as a sport, we need to do more.

“I think we’ve taken a step in that direction, but we can always do more.

“They’ve put some steps in place for the places that we are going to, but it’s important to make sure that they’re implemented in the right way — and that it’s not just saying that ‘we’re going to do something’, but actually to see some action taken.

“So, that’s going to take some work from us all in the background.”

The Mercedes driver confirmed he had received a letter from 17 organisations including the Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy (BIRD) on arrival.

The letter “urges F1 to secure justice for victims of abuses linked to the Bahrain Grand Prix, protect the rights of protesters and enact their human rights policy to ensure their business practices do not contribute to human rights abuses in light of the ‘worsening’ human rights situation in the country,” according to BIRD.

Hamilton said he had not had time to read or digest the letter he had received. “That’s something I definitely need to take some time to do over the coming days,” he said.

Hamilton has become an outspoken supporter of equality, diversity and the environment this year and made several strong human rights statements related to democracy and racism.

 
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