Bahraini deportation of nationality-stripped citizens “unfair": Amnesty

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A Bahraini women wearing a headband reading "Freedom" poses for a picture during a protest against Israel's ongoing military offensive in the Gaza Strip, on August 4, 2014 in the village Diraz, west of the capital Manama. (Photo: AFP - Mohammed al-Shaikh)

Published Wednesday, October 29, 2014

A Bahraini court issued a decision to deport 10 people who were already stripped of their Bahraini nationality, according to a report by Amnesty International.

The convicted 10 are among 31 people whose nationality was arbitrarily revoked in November 2012.

The Ministry of Interior said the decision to revoke the nationality of the 31 people had been taken in the name of the Bahrain Citizenship Law, “under which the nationality of a person can be revoked if he or she causes harm to state security,” the report says.

The court did not explain to any of the 31 people what exactly is the “threat” they posed. Twenty of the 31 affected live abroad and they include two former members of parliament, as well as activists and clerics.

Amnesty described the judicial proceedings against the group as “arbitrary and unfair.”

“The Bahraini authorities are running out of arguments to justify repression. They are now resorting to extreme measures such as jail sentences and revoking nationality to quell dissent in the country, rather than allowing people to peacefully express their views,” said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Deputy Director.

According to the report, the new amendments to legislation in Bahrain broaden the reasons for which one’s nationality can be revoked. These now include anyone whose “acts contravene his duty of loyalty to the Kingdom,” those who take up another nationality without prior permission from the Ministry of Interior and individuals convicted of vaguely worded terrorism offenses.

The decision has rendered the convicted as foreigners in their own country.

In August 2014, trials started against them on charges of illegally staying in the country.

“Arbitrarily depriving these Bahrainis of their nationality and forcing them out of Bahrain renders them 'stateless' and goes contrary to Bahrain’s international obligations,” said Sahraoui.

“They have already been effectively stripped of basic rights such as access to work, health care and education simply for holding dissenting views and deporting them just adds insult to injury.”

These rulings are part of an ongoing clampdown on dissent in Bahrain.

With Saudi Arabia's help, Bahrain, ruled by an unelected monarchy, crushed peaceful pro-democracy demonstrations that began on February 14, 2011 but has yet to resolve the conflict between the population and the monarchy oppressing them.

On Tuesday, a Bahrain court banned the Gulf state's main opposition movement, al-Wefaq National Islamic Society, for three months just weeks before parliamentary election.

The movement says it wants to see the adoption of a constitutional monarchy system in Bahrain, along with an elected government.

The ban comes few days after Bahraini authorities detained two prominent pro-democracy activists for criticizing the judiciary.

Today, Bahrain has the distinction of being the country with the second highest prison population rate per 100,000 amongst Arab states in the West Asian and North African region.

The kingdom continues to detain of over 2,000 Bahrainis who dared to challenge the al-Khalifa monarchy when the uprising erupted.

Moreover, there are over 200 minors held within these prisons, forced to stay side-by-side with adults, and a few have faced torture and sexual abuses.

Many Shias in the country complain of political and economic discrimination, a charge the Sunni-led authorities deny.

It is worth noting that Washington is a long-standing ally of the ruling al-Khalifa dynasty, and Bahrain is home to the US Navy's Fifth Fleet.

(Al-Akhbar)

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