A DORSET musical group has snubbed an invitation to play at a prestigious Formula One Grand prix over concerns about human rights violations.
The Magic Drum Orchestra, whose members are from the Dorchester area, have turned down the chance to perform at the Bahrain Grand Prix in protest at the record of the ruling regime.
After receiving an enquiry from the Bahrain International Circuit, the band investigated the situation there and were concerned by reports about the human rights abuses committed in the country.
A member of the band visited Bahraini activists in London who were gathered to mark the anniversary of the uprising.
On hearing about the violent crackdown on peaceful protests, and allegations of torture, the band unanimously decided not to pursue the offer.
They dedicated a song to the people of Bahrain as part of a recent performance to a packed out Electric Palace in Bridport, Dorset, during which a police riot van arrived on the scene to investigate the noise.
The song was the band's own interpretation of Rage Against the Machine’s Killing in the Name, thought to have been originally written about state violence.
Glyn Bush, of Magic Drum Orchestra, said: “Playing in Bahrain would have been our first international performance but we felt that pursuing the offer to play would be taking the side of a repressive regime instead of supporting the people. We urge other musicians, drivers and racing fans to take a stand for democracy and human rights by boycotting the event".
Sayed Ahmed Alwadaei, of the Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy, said: “We are very grateful to Magic Drum Orchestra for choosing to stand with the Bahrain people in opposition to the Bahrain Formula One.
“Every year, the race brings bloodshed and cruelty. Villages are put in lock down, mass arrests are made, and international journalists who step outside the F1 bubble are arrested and deported. We hope others follow Magic Drum Orchestra's honourable decision and boycott the race.”
Magic Drum Orchestra are the latest to support the campaign to suspend the Bahrain Grand Prix, which was initiated by Americans for Democracy and Human Rights in Bahrain, Bahrain Centre for Human Rights, Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights, The European Bahraini Organisation for Human Rights and UK-based Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy and Bahrain Watch.
Magic Drum Orchestra can be seen performing at various festivals across the UK including WOMAD 2014. For more information visit the website: magicdrumorchestra.com