Hamilton says Bahrain letter from prisoner's son 'hit home'

'It hit home': Hamilton moved by letter from 11-year-old son of Bahrain death row prisoner
3 min read
13 December, 2020
F1 champion Lewis Hamilton said he was moved by a letter from a man on death row in Bahrain and vowed he won't let rights violations 'go unnoticed'.
Hamilton vowed not to ignore pleas to improve human rights in Bahrain. [Getty]
Formula One world champion Lewis Hamilton said he had been moved by a letter he received from the son of a man on death row in Bahrain and vowed to bring attention to the allegations of rights violations. 

Hamilton, who was named the most influential Black person in the UK for his active support of the Black Lives Matter movement, received letters from campaigners last month before the first of two Grand Prix in Bahrain.

The seven-time champion said at the time that he needed time to process the content, which included letters from survivors of alleged torture.

Speaking to journalists on Saturday ahead of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Hamilton said that before testing positive for Covid, he had hoped to meet Bahrain's Crown Prince Sheikh Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa.

"Ultimately, it isn't necessarily my responsibility to speak out on the places that I don't know everything about but I think we together always have to work to push for change and improvements," Hamilton was quoted by Reuters as saying.

"I think the saddest thing for me was that there is a young man on death row and it's not clear... when his son writes me a letter, that really hits home. All lives matter. I think there's definitely work to be done in the background," he said.

Hamilton also promised campaigners he will attempt to speak to the Bahrainis who had written him the letters to bring further attention to their cause.

"I definitely won't let it go unnoticed," he added.

The letters came from alleged torture survivors and included a drawing from the young son of a Bahraini man on death row.

According to reports, 11-year-old Ahmed Ramadhan had written to Hamilton for help with the legal case of his father Mohammed Ramadhan – who rights group say was sentenced to death based on based on confessions extracted through torture in 2014.

Mohammed was arrested after supporting Bahrain's pro-democracy uprising and then allegedly framed in a murder case and made to confess through torture.

Read also: UK urged to intervene in case of Bahraini pair facing execution after 'torture-induced confessions'

Bahrain has claimed Mohammed was given a fair trial.

Hamilton also received a photo of the boy holding up a drawing of his Mercedes F1 car. The boy also sent a written plea: "Lewis, Please save my father," according to the Associated Press.

Hamilton has acknowledged that human rights were a "massive problem" in some of the countries hosting races.

Bahrain is accused of "sportswashing" its human rights record through big sports events that paint the country in a positive light.

But the Gulf state has launched a massive crackdown on pro-democracy protests since 2011, arresting activists, journalists and critics without trials.

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