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by Shane Stokes
October 31, 2017
Mareczko best again with stage 3 victory in Tour of Hainan; Critic of Bahrain alleges torture after family members are jailed; An Post Chain Reaction/Sean Kelly team to take year out, sponsor talks continue; UCI President Lappartient wants team sizes to drop to six riders; Martina Ritter Steps up to Wiggle High 5; Demi de Jong moves to Lotto Soudal Ladies; Doris Schweizer stays with Team Virtu; Video: Teaser Worst Retirement Ever – Mt. Evans; Video: Tour de France Shanghai Critérium 2017; Video: Preview of the UCI world indoor championships.
Prince Nasser bin Hamad Al Khalifa has faced allegations of human rights violations relating to torture.
Family members of a human rights activist who has spoken out against Bahrain, plus its backing of a WorldTour cycling team, were given prison terms on Monday. Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy (BIRD) Head of Advocacy Sayed Ahmed Alwadaei said that the jailing of his mother in law, his brother in law and his cousin were reprisals for his campaigning.
“I was distraught to see my family suffer torture, persecution and interrogations about my activities … I will not rest until they are freed,” the London-based activist said in a statement.
His mother in law and brother in law were accused of planting a ‘fake bomb,’ while his cousin was given a month and a half term for obtaining a knife. BIRD accused the Bahraini authorities of using torture to coerce Ahmed Alwadaei’s family members into confessing. Amnesty International said the sentencing was a ‘reprisal’ for his activities, while Human Rights Watch was similarly unimpressed. It said the charges were ‘dubious’ and that they were ‘testimony to Bahrain’s comprehensive campaign to muzzle dissent.’ It will appeal the sentences.
Last year Ahmed Alwadaei protested Bahrain’s plans to back a new WorldTour team. The project is headed by the controversial Prince Nasser bin Hamad Al Khalifa, who has faced allegations of human rights violations relating to torture.
In August of last year Ahmed Alwadaei appealed to the UCI not to give the team a WorldTour licence. “We reiterate that the only way to safeguard the integrity of the sport is for the UCI to reject any application from the Bahrain team,” he said then. “It is appalling to see Merida sponsor the team, despite all the human rights and ethical problems being brought to their attention.” The UCI permitted the team’s licence, enabling it to proceed with riders such as multiple Grand Tour winner Vincenzo Nibali.