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Bahraini child appeals to F1 champion to save his father, shedding light on Manama repression

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
The file photo shows Mercedes' British driver and Formula 1 champion, Lewis Hamilton.

A Bahraini child, whose father is awaiting execution, has appealed to seven-time Formula 1 champion Lewis Hamilton to help save his father, shedding light on Al-Khalifah regime’s repression in the small Persian Gulf’s island.

Eleven-year-old Ahmed Ramadhan drew a picture of the British driver’s Mercedes, pleading for help: “Lewis, please save my father,” AFP reported.

“When I was drawing the car, I felt hope that it might save my father's life,” the UK-based advocacy group Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy (BIRD) quoted the child as saying in his letter.

In his touching letter, the minor urged the 35-year-old champion, who won the Bahrain Grand Prix last month, to shed light on the case of Mohamed Ramadhan, a former security guard at Bahrain International Airport, who is facing the death penalty after he was convicted of purportedly murdering a police officer in a bomb attack.

Back in July, Bahrain's top court upheld the death penalty against Ramadhan and his alleged accomplice, Hussain Moosa, a former hotel employee, after convicting them of murder.

The pair, who were first sentenced in 2014, are members of the large Shia community of Bahrain, which is ruled by the Sunni Al-Khalifah regime

The death sentence came amid allegations by Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and BIRD that the conviction has been based on confessions extracted by torture. They also alleged that both men were also subjected to sexual assault, beatings, sleep deprivation, and other abuses.

“I really hope Lewis Hamilton delivers my message so my dad can come back home,” Ahmed further said.

In a press conference in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Hamilton confirmed that he had received the letter.

“I think the saddest thing for me was that there's a young man on death row and it's not clear ... and when his son writes me a letter it really hits home,” he said prior to the final race in Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

“I think there's definitely work to be done in the background and I definitely won't let it go unnoticed,” Hamilton added.

Amnesty International has already lambasted the ruling and described the trial as “grossly unfair.”

Elsewhere in his comments, Hamilton said that he would have hoped to address the issue with Bahrain's Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa, but as he has contracted COVID-19 it is not temporarily possible to discuss the issue with the royal.

“I'd hoped... to sit and address it with the crown prince, but I was bed-ridden for most of the week,” the champion said.

Separately, the director of BIRD, Sayed Ahmed Alwadaei, said that “When world champions like Lewis Hamilton choose to speak out, lives can change forever.”

The convicted pair appealed the sentences and the case was referred to the High Criminal Court of Appeal, which confirmed the verdicts in March 2015.

The case later reached the Court of Cassation that upheld the rulings in November that year.

The death sentences were later overturned after the emergence of a previously undisclosed medical report by the Bahraini Interior Ministry.

The report appeared to corroborate assertions that both men were tortured to give false confessions, according to the HRW.

But an appeals court reinstated the sentences in January 2020.

As part of Bahrain's law, the case was referred to the Court of Cassation that approved the verdict for the second time in July.

Bahrain has seen anti-regime protest rallies over the past nine years. The major demand has been the ouster of the Al-Khalifah regime and the establishment of a just and conclusive system representing all Bahraini nationals.

The Manama regime, in return, has ignored the calls and is pressing ahead with its heavy-handed crackdown and persecution of human rights campaigners and political dissidents.

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