Bahrain circuit reinstates employees fired for joining 2011 protests

2012 Bahrain Grand Prix

Bahrain International Circuit, 2004

Last year's Bahrain Grand Prix was cancelled

The Bahrain International Circuit has announced that its employees who were fired for participating in last year’s protests have been reinstated.

Chief Executive of the Bahrain International Circuit Sheikh Salman bin Isa Al-Khalifa said: “The reinstatement of our BIC colleagues is part of an important initiative towards national reconciliation and unity for the kingdom as a whole.

“I therefore welcome back our colleagues into the BIC family as we now look to focus on the future and the important job at hand.

“The Bahrain International Circuit, and in particular the Formula 1 Grand Prix, is of huge significance to our country, acting as a strong unifier, given the support it receives from all sections of Bahrain society. I now look forward to working with all BIC colleagues to ensure that we continue to provide world class track events, which every citizen of Bahrain can be proud to support.”

The circuit has not confirmed how many employees lost their jobs or how many have returned. Accounts at the time suggested at least 28 people had been fired, some were tortured and imprisoned, while others fled the country.

The Bahrain Grand Prix is scheduled to take place on April 22nd. Last year’s race was cancelled after the Bahrain government violently suppressed protests by pro-democracy campaigners.

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45 comments on Bahrain circuit reinstates employees fired for joining 2011 protests

  1. Deurmat (@deurmat) said on 11th January 2012, 10:36

    First prosecute, torture them, now: “Welcome back, no hard feelings”… F1 should never set a foot in that country ever again, until it’s a democracy.

    • Tifoso1989 (@tifoso1989) said on 11th January 2012, 11:49

      so it must be replaced by the Tunisian GP!!!!!!!!!!

    • jonchuckle (@jonchuckle) said on 11th January 2012, 12:10

      @deurmat Does that go for China too? And Abu Dhabi?

      • AndrewTanner (@andrewtanner) said on 11th January 2012, 13:05

        @jochuckle @deurmat As much as I’m not really fussed about all the politics of this situation, I do think that it takes the mick a little bit when the organisers have the ‘decency’ to take back their former employees.

      • Deurmat (@deurmat) said on 11th January 2012, 15:53

        @jonchuckle well in China the poor will start rebelling against the rich government in a not too distant future, I believe. And then when this gets out in the media I expect F1 to stay away from there too. Abu Dhabi prevented the protest from the people by changing some laws so that they were content for a while. But I still think a revolution may occur there sooner or later.

        • jonchuckle (@jonchuckle) said on 11th January 2012, 15:58

          @deurmat So when you said F1 should never set foot in a non-democratic country, what you really meant is that it shouldn’t go to countries where people are protesting governments? I find that bizarre. China is less democratic than Bahrain.

          • Deurmat (@deurmat) said on 11th January 2012, 16:06

            @jonchuckle democratic, non-democratic isn’t the point… The people who speak bad about their country get arrested and sometimes go missing. This happens in Abu Dhabi and in China too.
            I think F1 should stay away from countries where they want to present themselves to the world like they are something they are not. :p
            Sorry English isn’t my first language…

          • jonchuckle (@jonchuckle) said on 11th January 2012, 16:20

            @deurmat I understand. :) And that’s fine, as long as there’s consistency. What I’m opposed to is people treating Bahrain like it’s some kind of monstrous special case, when there’s races on the calendar in countries that treat their people just as bad, if not worse…

        • necrodethmortem (@necrodethmortem) said on 11th January 2012, 20:11

          @deurmat I think you’re wrong. In Chinese culture the rich have always been looked up to and the more vicious they got their fortune, the more respect they get. Communism hasn’t changed that.

          If the Chinese ever rebel, it will be for more freedom, but I don’t expect such a thing to happen until their economy has a setback. As long as the money keeps flowing in, the Chinese feel fine.

          • Deurmat (@deurmat) said on 11th January 2012, 21:24

            @necrodethmortem Not true at all. I have watched countless documentaries about China and the differences between rich and poor. The poor really don’t look up to the rich. That might have been true in the past but not anymore. Unfortunately they don’t have the means to stand up as a whole.

          • Thecollaroyboys (@thecollaroyboys) said on 11th January 2012, 21:35

            I was thinking more of the rising educated middle class than the super rich. They are the new masses but you’re right, the super rich will not rock the boat especially if you look at Russia as a guide.

          • necrodethmortem (@necrodethmortem) said on 11th January 2012, 22:50

            @deurmat Well I talk out of own experience, not just a documentary. Mostly Cantonese speaking Chinese though, Northeners are indeed less so.

            Anyways, only time can tell whose right.

        • Thecollaroyboys (@thecollaroyboys) said on 11th January 2012, 21:09

          It will be the rich revolting against the government in China. The rich have seen hos the economy can be liberalised for the greater good, now they will press for poltical and social liberalisation. Its just a matter of time. The poor? As always they will get screwed.

          • Deurmat (@deurmat) said on 11th January 2012, 21:27

            @Thecollaroyboys the super rich in China are almost all part of the communist party, they thank their wealth to them. They will not revolt against the party, maybe as you said they will ask for more democracy but I doubt it.

    • BasCB (@bascb) said on 11th January 2012, 20:14

      I must say it has to be a good move for them to do this. But the fact its only by order of the king, and about 3/4th of a year after firing them, I am sceptical about their motivation for this.

      I guess its just now is the time they feel its needed to bring out some positives so the FIA and Bernie can say all is well (them having the trust of both Ferrari and RBR – see the recent quotes from both teams) and there’s no problem going there at all.

      Only a shame that these messages do not actually adress the underlying issues in Bahrain that might very likely come to bring unrest (and security problems) to the GP.

  2. Mike (@mike) said on 11th January 2012, 10:37

    The Bahrain government wants the race… Unlike most of the past year, the next month will reveal a flourishing of “national unity” initiatives.

    “some were tortured and imprisoned, while others fled the country.” but it’s ok, because they have there jobs back and everyone loves each other again right?

  3. brxtr (@broxter) said on 11th January 2012, 10:38


    • Thecollaroyboys (@thecollaroyboys) said on 11th January 2012, 21:16

      Not disgusting, politics. It’s actually a good thing going back to Bahrain because it keeps the spotlight on a crummy government and forces them to at least attempt to do the right thing. The fact that we are all engaged in this discussion further highlights the regimes shortcomings. If only there was a Harare GP, then there would be a spotlight on a real problem. All of that said, I’d like Bernie to donate the Bahrain hosting fee to Amnesty Int.

  4. I wonder if we’re going to see an increase in tensions between the government/regime and the Barhrainie (Bahrainy?) citizens over the coming months. It all kicked off to nicely last year to tie in with the F1 race approaching, and with a slightly later date this season, it could potentially happen again. F1 doesnt want to be come a symbol of polictical arguments, but I fear that it already has done, as its arguably the biggest sporting event that travels to this Country and makes itself a target for both sides.

    If there is more rioting, I hope F1 handles the situation better and quicker then 12months ago.

  5. matt90 (@matt90) said on 11th January 2012, 11:06

    I’m guessing some of those who actually had to flee the country probably haven’t returned to their jobs though…

    • John H (@john-h) said on 11th January 2012, 12:26

      Probably all of them more like.

      Oh and they don’t seem to have apologised to them, or have any evidence they have returned.

      Name me one organisation that is going to buy this?… oh hang on, the FIA ;)

      • BasCB (@bascb) said on 11th January 2012, 20:18

        Yep, everything rigged to get the FIA to send their impressively thorough investigator in again, so he can find everything was dealt with, action taken and things all rosy now.

        Then Ferrari, RBR will put their trust in that authority and go to Bahrain without any second thoughts (see statements by both today – and the others will probably follow).

  6. How do we know they have actually been reinstated? Where’s the proof? How can we be sure this isn’t just a press release trying to paper over the Grand Canyon sized gaps in their human rights record?

    Seems remarkably similar to the FIA’s report on the situation last year.

  7. It feels like a cynical political gesture, but since royalty is in charge of the circuit’s organisation, credit to the King for at least trying to do something. For the opposition, the phrase “shutting the door after the horse has bolted” probably springs to mind. I think that only sorting out the underlying political problems (or at least making major progress towards that) will prevent another bout of protests and violence.

  8. rsp123 (@rsp123) said on 11th January 2012, 11:22

    This story has a way to go yet. The sponsors and the Saudis will decide things. If one or two of the big payers get cold feet and want their names taken off the cars, the race will have to be pulled. And if the Saudis still want the Shia community in Bahrain to be brought to heel (the Saudis worry that Iran is making trouble behind the scenes, which is why they have put troops into bahrain), then the violence will continue.

    The king of Bahrain is keen to be seen in the company of western leaders – Cameron has hosted him twice (that we know of) in the last year, despite the fact that his regime is responsible for some shocking behaviour. He did commission a supposedly impartial “report” into the abuses committed by his troops and officials, but unfortunately for him, many observers see this as nothing more than a (very expensive) attempt to apply whitewash to a bloodied wall.

    The FIA and FOM – with financial interests of their own in the region to worry about – will doubtless make much of the king’s report (remember their pathetic statements last year?), but I think the situation is far too unstable to try and paper over the cracks and go ahead with the race. It would be like hosting a race in North Korea – there would be men with guns everywhere.

  9. Cornflakes (@cornflakes) said on 11th January 2012, 11:35

    Well, I guess it’s better than nothing. Although Bernie would still probably have gone even if the Bahrain government did nothing.

    • topdowntoedown (@topdowntoedown) said on 11th January 2012, 12:03

      If the money was right Bernie would stand in front of a burning building and tell you that they’d turned up the central heating so as to be welcoming.

  10. Tiago Carvalho (@tiagocomodoro) said on 11th January 2012, 11:47

    I have a solution! haha
    Last year even with the GP cancelled, the Kingdom payed F1 for host the race, and did not ask the money back, so money is not the problem.

    Considering the huge amount of dollars, they could invest this money in the society and give more conditions for the people that, afterall, will not be so agressive anymore, it could help to bring peace.

    I mean, I lived in China for 1 year, in there is everything about money, give money to a communist guy, he will say that communism is the best thing in the world. Maybe in the middle-east they can do the same and make people’s life better.

  11. verstappen (@verstappen) said on 11th January 2012, 12:11

    For the sake of F1, I hope threats to protest or even threats of attack at the Grand Prix will relieve the sport from this mess. Safety is really the only viable argument there is, certainly after last year.

    Whatever I feel, we feel, about Human Rights Violation simply can’t be part of the consideration, because there’s too much involvement in F1 and FIA from dubious regimes.

  12. AndrewTanner (@andrewtanner) said on 11th January 2012, 13:07

    How very decent of them.

    I’m not going to pretend I’m really that interested in the politics of it all but I do take issue with an employer taking the mick out of you.

  13. infy (@infy) said on 11th January 2012, 14:07

    Hopefully this ensures that peace continues. But I guess that all depends on the terrorists and the government.

    • Mike (@mike) said on 11th January 2012, 16:09

      Just so I understand, the “Terrorists” are the ones who want democracy right?

      • Nick.UK (@) said on 11th January 2012, 16:45

        I’d say the Government were the Terrorists! :/

      • BasCB (@bascb) said on 11th January 2012, 20:22

        Wouldn’t the Terrorists be the ones being guided by Iran to upset Bahrain society? The ones the investigation by that BICI showed did not exist?

        So then its easy to now blame non existant Terrorists for everything. They are not coming out to complain!

  14. Nick.UK (@) said on 11th January 2012, 16:43

    Seriously, I don’t even want to hear the name Bahrain in relation to F1 again. How long will it take to just totally bail from the place!? Damn Bernie and all his money humping tactics!

  15. vjanik said on 11th January 2012, 16:58

    This is what happens when a country groups its citizens by religious affiliation. Such discrimination will inevitably lead to inequality and different standards.

    I cant think of a worse way of managing a society/country than by judging people of what god they believe in or what cult they belong to. (Other examples Ireland, India-Pakistan separation, etc) Its like saying that only Man United fans can be elected into cabinet.

    Bahrain needs to have a secular constitution (something like the one proposed in 1973), no amount of apologies or payments will fix the situation.

    But I realize that this is an F1 blog so will now shut up.

  16. F1Yankee (@f1yankee) said on 11th January 2012, 20:23

    actions speak louder than words, but money speaks louder still. i expect the 2012 bahrain gp to go ahead, and no bahraini, team or driver will get out of line.

  17. xxiinophobia (@xxiinophobia) said on 11th January 2012, 21:01

    It’s rare that I wouldn’t want to spend a birthday watching F1 racing, but I think the best birthday gift I could get this year would be the cancellation of this race.

  18. Sangeen (@sangeen) said on 12th January 2012, 6:51

    I guess we shouldn’t be going to austin then?It’s only fair.

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