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F1 under pressure to speak out against Saudi human right abuses

Human rights organisations have demanded that Formula One act to mitigate human rights abuses in Saudi Arabia as the sport prepares to race there for the first time this weekend. F1 is accused of being complicit in sportswashing for the regime and has been presented with a large amount of criticism of the state, much of which appears to be in direct contradiction of F1’s commitment to equality and diversity.

On Wednesday, Human Rights Watch and the Reprieve group wrote separately to F1 outlining their concerns. Amnesty International wa unequivocal in its criticism and the Codepink group has sent a letter to Lewis Hamilton, the world champion, signed by 41 organisations, requesting he speak to Saudi leaders to highlight human rights issues.

They cited Saudi Arabia continuing to use the death penalty against children, non-violent offenders and people exercising their right to free speech, suggesting that F1 was tacitly accepting this by racing there. They gave the example of the scholar Hassan al-Maliki, who faces a potential death sentence for peacefully expressing his thoughts on Islamic history. Charges they claim have been brought against him include “possessing books” that were “not authorised by the competent authority”, as well as “publishing books” and “tweets”.

Reprieve was damning in its assessment of his case. “The authorities are seeking the death penalty for what amount to thought crimes, essentially threatening to kill him for the contents of his library,” its letter to F1 reads.

Read the full story in The Guardian.