Author Topic: Pressure mounts on Bahrain as hunger striker reaches 62nd day  (Read 1029 times)

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Pressure mounts on Bahrain as hunger striker reaches 62nd day

Bahrain has been trumpeting its return to normalcy ahead of the Formula One Grand Prix that begins April 20. But now there is increasing pressure to cancel the car race.

By Elizabeth Dickinson, Correspondent / April 10, 2012


Bahraini antigovernment protesters carry images of jailed hunger striker Abdulhadi al-Khawaja during a demonstration Sunday, April 8, outside the Interior Ministry in Manama, Bahrain. Bahrain on Sunday rejected the Danish government's request to transfer the jailed activist who is on a nearly two-month hunger strike to Denmark for medical treatment.

Hasan Jamali/AP

In most countries, the supercharged Formula One (F1) car-racing circuit is marked by decadent celebrations, high-profile guests, and hundreds of millions of dollars of international investment.

Bahrain missed out last year, when its plans to host the event were canceled after dozens of Arab Spring protesters were killed in clashes with security forces.
The tiny Gulf kingdom was determined not to miss out a second time, and declared ahead of this year’s April 20-22 event that all is back to normal. The country’s slogan, “UniF1ed” – united behind the F1 race, was draped on banners lining skyscrapers, highways, and shopping malls.

But activists are trying to leverage the event to garner international support for their campaign for greater rights, particularly for the country's downtrodden Shiite majority. Amid persistent abuses and the increasingly desperate hunger strike of prominent human rights activist Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja, speculation is growing  that the race may be cancelled again.

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