by Ray Fleming

Even the most determined opponent of the decision to hold the Bahrain Formula One event tomorrow must hope that the race itself is not the object of any demonstration or interference on or near the track. The outcome could be horrific, for drivers, support teams and spectators. However the street demonstrations which have been taking place during the past weeks will continue and be countered by police and security forces with tactics as brutal as those used during the Bahrain uprisings last year. At that time an independent Commission of Inquiry looked into accusations of violence against demonstrators and reported that torture, excessive beatings and unlawful killings had taken place. But the promised action against offenders has been slow and directed at lower ranks rather than those who devised and ordered the methods employed.

The Bahrain government has pressed hard to ensure that Formula One racing should return after its cancellation last year. Of course it has been supported by those with valuable contracts at stake but it has been surprising to see the British Embassy giving assurances about the safe conditions for visitors.

The Bahrain government apparently believes that the very fact of the race taking place will tell the world that it is business as usual in Bahrain. But the global attention focussed on the continuing protests and the rough handling of them has told another story.

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