Hamilton “very moved” by support from prisoners in Bahrain after human rights comments

2022 Bahrain Grand Prix

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Lewis Hamilton said he was “very moved” to learn Bahraini prisoners have begun showing their support for him in response to his stance on human rights.

Since 2020, Hamilton has become increasingly outspoken on the subject, calling on F1 not to ignore the “massive problem” of human rights in some countries it visits. He has received letters from human rights groups in Bahrain.

This week reports emerged that inmates in Bahraini jails, described as political prisoners and prisoners of conscience by human rights groups, have added Hamilton’s number 44 to their uniform in recognition of his public comments on human rights.

“When I did see the story on that I was very moved,” said Hamilton in yesterday’s FIA press conference at Bahrain International Circuit.

“I never in a million years thought that I would ever be able to have that sort of impact on people, particularly in those positions with just some of them with some incredible stories fighting against a difficult system.”

Hamilton said last year he raised the matter of human rights with Britain’s ambassador to the country. “Honestly, I really tried to hold serious conversations in the background to try and improve that system for those that are that are currently in prison and those that will potentially face those circumstances in the future,” he said yesterday.

“It’s not an easy line to walk and it’s risky, it’s challenging, it’s difficult relationships. But for me what’s important is it’s seeing a better future for people.

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“We come to these beautiful places and there’s challenges everywhere, right, no country is perfect. But I think we can all do more. And so I’m just trying to do as much as I can with the time that I have. I can’t do everything and I can’t do it alone. So I need allies. But it’s really, really, honestly, it’s amazing to hear that story.”

Ahead of this year’s race Hamilton has been sent a drawing and letter by the 12-year-old son of a man on death row in Bahrain, Mohammed Ramadhan.

Hamilton said he “hasn’t seen the drawing yet, but each year each year I receive letters from those that are suffering and all I can do is try my hardest to empathise with those who faces these challenges and have these tragic stories to tell.

“I think the weight of change really needs to be put on the government and those who are in power. And that’s why we’re going to continue to utilise the platforms we have when we arrive in these countries as well, and make sure we’re holding serious conversations about what is happening there because as drivers we have platforms to try to help raise awareness for those countries.”

Hamilton also called attention to the war in Ukraine and other conflicts, including Yemen. Another F1 venue, Saudi Arabia, has been engaged in a conflict in the latter since 2015.

“There are amazing organisations out there on the ground that are fighting for human rights and I support those,” said Hamilton. “But there’s a lot of work to do.

“The world is a mess. We see more displacement of refugees than ever before. Not only in Ukraine, but in Syria and Yemen. I think it needs to be a priority for all of us to come together and really try to push for change, long-lasting change.”

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2022 Bahrain Grand Prix

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...
Claire Cottingham
Claire has worked in motorsport for much of her career, covering a broad mix of championships including Formula One, Formula E, the BTCC, British...

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6 comments on “Hamilton “very moved” by support from prisoners in Bahrain after human rights comments”

  1. For once I agree with Hamilton: the world is a mess indeed and yes we can all do better.

    1. Same here – good on him and people that say otherwise about this should have a long hard look at themselves.

  2. Moved to resign, maybe?

    1. Electroball76
      19th March 2022, 12:24

      Some people will criticise him for ‘not doing more’. He is a global icon and is raising awareness during the event itself. I suspect that is the limit of what he can realistically do here. He can’t force Bahrain to change, and he doesn’t want to damage his team or his career.

    2. He is employed by many and works for many others. So who do you want him to resign from, and to what end?

  3. As far as i can see, this is just another reason why Hamilton wont be winning in Behrain anytime soon.
    Too much political qudos in him winning with everything he’s had to say about that country.

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