No less than 45 organizations from around the world are calling on seven-time Formula 1 World Champion Lewis Hamilton to speak out against Saudi Arabia’s human rights abuses and boycott the Grand Prix that will be held in Jeddah.
Hamilton has been a vocal advocate for Black Lives Matter and was the driving force for Formula 1’s ‘End Racism’ campaign throughout the 2020 season. He also expressed concern for Bahraini torture victims prior to the Bahrain Grand Prix last year. Now, organizations including Codepink, Alliance for Global Justice, Americans for Democracy & Human Rights in Bahrain, and International Service for Human Rights, have sent a letter to Hamilton asking him to speak out against Saudi Arabia and the nation’s Grand Prix that’s scheduled to take place on December 3-5.
“Hamilton has shown time and time again that he cares deeply for people around the world,” the Yemen Campaign Coordinator for Codepink, Danaka Katovich said in a statement. “I hope he is compelled to stand with Saudi human rights defenders like Loujain AlHathloul. The most decorated Formula 1 driver in the history of the sport demanding freedom for activists and justice for Yemen would certainly speak volumes to the world.”
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In the letter, the organizations speak about the detention and treatment of women’s rights defenders like Loujain AlHathloul as well as the brutal murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in October 2019. They also outline how the leaders of Saudi Arabia are waging a war on Yemen in what the UN calls the “world’s worst humanitarian crisis.”
“As organizations concerned deeply with the human rights abuses carried out by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, we ask that you reconsider your participation in the upcoming race being hosted in Saudi Arabia in 2021,” the letter reads. “If this is not possible due to prior commitments, we ask that you make a statement at this race.”
Formula 1 announced that Saudi Arabia would be hosting a race during the 2021 season in early November 2020. At the time, Hamilton was pressed to comment on the race. He admitted that he needed to know more about Saudi Arabia’s alleged human rights violations before speaking about them.
The full letter can be viewed here.