Muslim Times(Web Desk) – Human Rights Watch has called on Bahraini authorities to restore citizenship to hundreds of nationals, whom have been affected by executive orders or court decisions as the ruling Al Khalifah regime pushes ahead with its heavy-handed crackdown on pro-democracy campaigners, journalists and religious scholars.
According to the Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy (BIRD), Manama regime officials have stripped at least 738 nationals – 232 in 2018 alone – of their citizenship since 2012, rendering most of them stateless.
“Bahrain seems intent on earning the dubious honor of leading the region in stripping citizenship,” Eric Goldstein, deputy Middle East director at Human Rights Watch, said.
He added, “While authorities claim that these acts are linked to national security, they are in fact punishing many people merely for peacefully voicing dissent.”
BIRD highlighted that either civil or military courts have issued all known citizenship revocations since the beginning of the current year.
Human Rights Watch has recorded widespread violations of fair trial in both court systems. The violations include a lack of access to lawyers, especially during interrogation, and confessions under duress.
Between May 15 and 25 this year, courts ruling in various trials revoked the citizenship of a total of 128 defendants, according to BIRD.
On May 15, a criminal court stripped 115 nationals of their citizenship, and also sentenced them to prison terms for alleged charges of forming a terrorist group.
Bahraini officials have deported eight people to Iraq since January, after courts stripped them of Bahraini citizenship.
Thousands of anti-regime protesters have held demonstrations in Bahrain on an almost daily basis ever since a popular uprising began in the country in mid-February 2011.
They are demanding that the Al Khalifah regime relinquish power and allow a just system representing all Bahrainis to be established.
Manama has gone to great lengths to clamp down on any sign of dissent. On March 14, 2011, troops from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates were deployed to assist Bahrain in its crackdown.
Scores of people have lost their lives and hundreds of others sustained injuries or got arrested as a result of the Al Khalifah regime’s crackdown.
On March 5, 2017, Bahrain’s parliament approved the trial of civilians at military tribunals in a measure blasted by human rights campaigners as being tantamount to imposition of an undeclared martial law countrywide.
Bahraini King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifah ratified the constitutional amendment on April 3 last year.