Money from Formula 1 has been used to construct a race track in Syria a few kilometres away from a prison where up to 13,000 people have been executed by the regime of President Bashar al-Assad, the UK newspaper The Daily Telegraph reported on Saturday.
The regime-controlled Syrian Automobile Club (SAC) were given funding by Formula 1 for a new racetrack to be used by racing drivers who will compete in a national championship, according to The Daily Telegraph.
The money came from Formula 1’s regulatory body, the Federation Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA), which operates in 144 countries around the world at a time when the UN estimates that 11.7 million Syrians are in need of aid.
Formula 1 itself does not control how its regulatory body FIA invests money and there is no suggestion that FIA broke any EU or US sanctions against Syria. The SAC could have received as much as 250,000 euros from FIA.
In a statement sent to The Daily Telegraph, FIA said “all grants are subject to internal scrutiny and the FIA will continue to lead the way in ensuring compliance.”
More than 500,000 people have been killed and millions more displaced since the Syrian conflict broke out in 2011, mostly as a result of regime bombardment of civilian homes and facilities.
The Syrian regime had previously been given money for safety equipment for racing sports and the SAC has organised multiple racing events under the auspices of the regime’s ministry of tourism.
In 2017, Amnesty International published a report saying that 13,000 people had been hanged in the nearby Sednaya prison, in what it described as a “cold-blooded killing of thousands of defenceless prisoners”.
The Syrian Network for Human Rights recently estimated that the Syrian regime had detained or “forcibly disappeared” over 128,000 people since the beginning of the Syrian conflict in 2011.
The Syrian Observer has not verified the content of this story. Responsibility for the information and views set out in this article lies entirely with the author.