F1 boss urged to address Baku human rights concerns
By Alan Baldwin
LONDON (Reuters) - Campaigners have urged Formula One supremo Bernie Ecclestone to speak out in defense of human rights ahead of Azerbaijan's inaugural grand prix next week.
Rebecca Vincent, coordinator of the Sports for Rights campaign, told a media briefing on Tuesday that 'positive' talks had been held already with two senior representatives of Ecclestone's Formula One Management (FOM).
The 85-year-old Briton was not present, however.
Vincent said the campaigners also wanted U.S. singers Pharrell Williams, Chris Brown and Spaniard Enrique Iglesias to cancel performances scheduled for the race weekend. None had responded.
Formula One, criticized for holding races in countries accused of abuses against government opponents, last year published a "Statement of Commitment to Respect for Human Rights".
The document states that "The Formula One Group is committed to respecting internationally recognized human rights in its operations globally."
Critics of Azerbaijan's president, Ilham Aliyev, accuse him and his government of cracking down on dissent in the oil-rich former Soviet republic to block the rise of any political opposition. He denies this.
Vincent told reporters a letter had been sent to Ecclestone calling on him "to publicly speak out for human rights issues". Continued...