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Human right groups urge F1 teams to boycott the Bahrain Grand Prix

Political unrest in the country lead to the cancellation of the Bahrain Grand PrixHuman right groups have called for Formula 1 to boycott the Bahrain Grand Prix amid continued unrest in the kingdom.

The Sakhir event was cancelled in 2011 because of the situation in the country, but the race is scheduled to return to the calendar in 2012, as the fourth round of the championship on 22 April.

"We will do a campaign for drivers and teams to boycott," Nabeel Rajab, vice president for Bahrain Center for Human Rights, was quoted as saying by the Arabian Business website.

"The government wants Formula 1 to tell the outside world that everything is back to normal.

"Formula 1, if they come, they are helping the government to say [it is normal]. We would prefer it if they didn't take part. I am sure the drivers and teams respect human rights."

Formula 1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone said last month he was confident the race would go ahead without problems this year.

Mariwan Hama-Saeed, of New York-based Human Rights Watch, said a sport like Formula 1 should not be having an event in Bahrain.

"[The FIA] should consider the serious abuse of human rights in Bahrain and the fact that to this day authorities continue to suppress pro-democracy protests," Hama-Saeed told Arabian Business.

"I doubt that Formula 1 can be a success in a country where serious human rights abuses have been committed. The political situation is unstable and polarised in Bahrain. We are very concerned about the government's commitment to implement meaningful reform."

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