Families of men put to death by Saudi Arabia says F1 should speak out

Families of 81 men put to death by Saudi Arabia in one day says Lewis Hamilton and other F1 aces should speak out against regime ahead of Grand Prix

  • Hamilton described the stories about abuses in Saudi Arabia as ‘mind-blowing’
  • The brother of Mohammad al-Shakhouri criticised F1 for not speaking out more
  • Saudi Arabia is on course to put 500 to death this year, dwarfing 186 in 2019

Families of the 81 men put to death by Saudi Arabia in a single day have spoken out about the country’s hosting of Sunday’s Grand Prix just two weeks after the executions.

More than half of those killed were said to have taken part in anti-government demonstrations and nearly three-quarters were accused of non-lethal offences.

It led seven times F1 champion Lewis Hamilton to describe the stories he was hearing about abuses in Saudi Arabia as ‘mind-blowing’.

‘Ultimately it is the responsibility of those in power to make the changes and we’re not really seeing enough. We need to see more,’ he said.   

But speaking on the eve of Sunday’s Grand Prix in Jeddah, the brother of executed pro-democracy activist Mohammad al-Shakhouri, criticised Hamilton and F1 aces for not speaking out more about human rights abuses. 

Families of the 81 men put to death by Saudi Arabia in a single day have spoken out about the country’s hosting of Sunday’s Grand Prix just two weeks after the executions (Lewis Hamilton pictured on Saturday ahead of qualifying)

Hamza al-Shakhouri said: ‘You say holding the race in Saudi Arabia puts what the government has done to us in the spotlight, but you are not speaking out to shine a light on those injustices.

‘Please practice what you preach to help make sure that more people like Mohammad are not killed for simply campaigning for democracy.

‘If events like the Grand Prix take place without criticising human rights abuses, it gives them the green light to kill more people. If you don’t at least speak out, many more lives will weigh on your conscience.’

Human rights campaigners claim Saudi Arabia has executed another 16 people since the 81 died – and the desert kingdom is on course to put 500 to death this year.   

Speaking on the eve of Sunday’s Grand Prix in Jeddah, the brother of executed pro-democracy activist Mohammad al-Shakhouri (above), criticised Hamilton and F1 aces for not speaking out more about human rights abuses

Mohammad, 37, was arrested at a checkpoint during unrest among the minority Shia community in the country’s Eastern Province in 2017.

He was accused of ‘seeking to destabilise the social fabric and national cohesion by calling for sit-ins and demonstrations and raising anti-state slogans’. 

Al-Shakhouri spent three months in solitary confinement during which it’s claimed he was subjected to torture including beatings and sleep deprivation.

Based on confessions extracted under torture, and without proper legal representation, he was convicted by a court in February 2021 and sentenced to death, it’s claimed.

Mohammad (above), 37, was arrested at a checkpoint during unrest among the minority Shia community in the country’s Eastern Province in 2017

One relative of a pro-democracy demonstrator who was killed said: ‘We are still grieving – we haven’t even been able to bury him. 

‘Formula One is coming to a country that is mourning without even acknowledging our pain and suffering.’

The brother of another Shia protestor, Mustafa al-Khayat, said F1 should not fall for Saudi Arabis’s PR spin just because it let women watch the Grand Prix.

Yasser al-Khayat said: ‘It is not even two weeks since Mustafa was killed, and you are trying to legitimise the regime that killed him, because they don’t ban women and young people from attending the race.’

The brother of another Shia protestor, Mustafa al-Khayat (pictured), said F1 should not fall for Saudi Arabis’s PR spin just because it let women watch the Grand Prix

Campaigners were scathing in their criticism of F1 boss Stefano Domenicali after he described himself as a ‘true believer in the fact that sport has to make sure that human rights is at the centre of our agenda, together with the country where we are going’.

Maya Foa, Director of Reprieve, the human rights charity, told him in a letter: ‘By choosing to race in the country, F1 has a responsibility to speak out about these atrocities. 

‘A failure to do so will be seen as an effective endorsement of the torture and execution of these pro-democracy demonstrators, and many others who are at risk of execution without notice, including child defendants’.

The execution of 500 people in one year would dwarf the previous Saudi record for the highest number in one year, which was 186 in 2019.

Source: Read Full Article