Further Violence in Bahrain, as the Racing Season Draws Near

Security forces have been spending much of the last five days breaking up violent protests and demonstrations in Sitra, an island just south of the Bahrain capital of Manama.

Following the death of 15-year-old Sayid Hashim Saeed on New Years Eve, pro-democracy protesters state a tear gas canister fired by police killed the teenager. State media have launched a counter-claim, citing Saeed received his injuries from a petrol bomb, while attacking said security forces.
According to on site human rights activists, the funeral also became a source of violence, with the procession being broken up by riot police; using tear gas, stun grenades and iron bars.
Officials have since been at pains to denounce the procession as an illegal march, filled out by saboteurs, determined to block roads and attack security forces.

Whichever side one chooses to believe, it cannot be denied that this is still a very difficult time for a country waging war with itself, nearly a year after the initial demonstrations began.
Protests have grown in intensity in recent weeks, although we have not yet witnessed a repeat of the extreme tactics used by police at that time.

Somewhat selfishly, one cannot help but note that the i1 Super Series is due to race in Bahrain in little over four weeks, with the Bahrain Formula 1 Grand Prix following two months later.
Six days after the Formula 1 visit, GP2 are set to host a stand-alone event at the Sakhir International Circuit, with the World Endurance Championship due to race there later in the year.  Manama is just over twenty miles north of the Grand Prix circuit.

Last year’s Bahrain Grand Prix had been cancelled following pro-democracy protests in the territory, with the police being accused of torture and excessive force.
An independent report released in November backed up many of these accusations; however the situation in the country appears to remain tense.

Time has a tendency to fly and soon the motor racing season will be upon us again and – realistically – it seems unlikely that the situation in Bahrain will resolve itself soon.
As violence in Bahrain escalates once again, the FIA may need to be called into action very soon – and this time, they cannot afford to stumble drunkenly around a painful situation (again).

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