Bahrain revokes citizenship of 115 Shia anti-government protesters in mass trial

Bahrain’s Sunni-rule government increasingly has wielded denaturalization as a hammer to beat back dissent on the Shia-majority island off the coast of Saudi Arabia in the Persian Gulf
Bahraini woman walks past images of political prisoners plastered on a wall in Sanabis, Bahrain.(AP File Photo)
Bahraini woman walks past images of political prisoners plastered on a wall in Sanabis, Bahrain.(AP File Photo)
Updated on May 15, 2018 07:21 PM IST
Copy Link
Associated Press, Dubai | ByAssociated Press

A Bahrain court on Tuesday revoked the citizenship of 115 people at a mass terrorism trial, the most to lose their nationality at any one time, amid a yearslong crackdown on all dissent in the island kingdom.

Bahrain’s Sunni-rule government increasingly has wielded denaturalization as a hammer to beat back dissent on the Shiite-majority island off the coast of Saudi Arabia in the Persian Gulf.

The court decision Tuesday came as much of the Mideast focused on Israeli security forces killing 59 Palestinian protesters as the U.S. Embassy opened in Jerusalem the day before. Like much of the crackdown, it has quietly escaped attention.

Bahrain’s Public Prosecution said the case involved a little-known militant group it identified as the “Zulfiqar Brigades,” whose mass arrests authorities previously announced in 2016. Zulfiqar is the name of the forked sword of Imam Ali, the son-in-law of the Prophet Muhammad who is revered by Shiites.

Prosecutors accused defendants of building and detonating bombs, receiving weapons training and plotting to kill police officers. Prosecutors also alleged defendants received training and support from Iran and its hard-line paramilitary Revolutionary Guard.

Bahrain long has accused Iran of stoking dissent in the country, something Tehran just as long has denied.

A statement from prosecutors said 53 defendants received life sentences, while dozens of others faced prison time. It said 23 defendants were acquitted.

Bahraini officials did not immediately respond to requests for comment for more information. Activists said the sentencing raised the number of those who have lost their citizenship since the 2012 to over 700.

“This outrageously harsh sentence is setting a new level of injustice in Bahrain,” said Sayed Ahmed Alwadaei, the director of advocacy at the Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy. “Rendering people stateless in a mass trial is a clear violation of international law.”

Bahrain, a nation only some 760 square kilometers (290 square miles) in size, is home to some 1.4 million people. About half are Bahraini citizens, the majority of them Shiite. The island is also home to the U.S. Navy’s 5th Fleet and a new British naval base.

The island has been ruled since the 1780s by the Sunni Al Khalifa family. King Hamad, who took the throne in 1999, initially took steps to move the country from an absolute monarchy to a constitutional one.

However, the island’s Shiite majority accused the government of treating them like second-class citizens. They joined pro-democracy activists in demanding more political freedoms in 2011, as Arab Spring protests swept the wider Middle East. Saudi and Emirati troops ultimately helped violently put down the demonstrations.

Bahrain promised change after the protests. But since April 2016, Bahrain has engaged in a new crackdown on dissent, overturning reforms that blocked civilians from being tried in military courts. It has shut down political parties, arrested political activists and forced others into exile.

The U.S. previously pushed back against Bahrain on human rights matters, using its influence as the island’s defense guarantor with over 7,000 U.S. troops attached to a sprawling base called the Naval Support Activity in Manama.

However, that’s changed with President Trump. His administration approved a multibillion-dollar sale of F-16 fighter jets to Bahrain without the human rights conditions imposed by the State Department under President Barack Obama.

Amid the crackdown, local Shiite militant groups have carried out several attacks on security forces. Independent news gathering in Bahrain also has grown more difficult, with the government refusing to accredit two Associated Press reporters and others while shutting down a prominent local independent newspaper.

SHARE THIS ARTICLE ON
Close Story
QUICKREADS

Less time to read?

Try Quickreads

  • Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Home Secretary Priti Patel.

    Priti Patel conveys ‘general view’ to UK PM amid mass resignations: Report

    UK home secretary Priti Patel has reportedly conveyed Prime Minister Boris Johnson the “general view” of Conservative lawmakers amid efforts to force him out of office. "Home Secretary Priti Patel, told Johnson that the general view of the Conservative party was that he had to go," CNN reported citing a person familiar with the matter.

  • A Russian S-400 missile defence system drives in Red Square during a military parade on Victory Day, which marks the 77th anniversary of the victory over Germany in World War Two, in Moscow, Russia on May 9, 2022. (REUTERS)

    Give CAATSA waiver, deepen defence and energy ties with India: US Congressmen

    In separate amendments to the National Defence Authorization Act, three US Congressmen have proposed that the US deepen defence ties with India, waive off sanctions that may be triggered by India's acquisitions of Russian weapons under the Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA), enhance the energy partnership with India, and work to reduce Indian dependence on Russian military equipment and energy sources and replace it with the US sources.

  • Twitter flooded with memes as UK PM Boris Johnson faces mass resignation of ministers (Credit: Twitter/@Stakke82)

    'Ikea has better cabinets…': Twitter chuckles as Boris Johnson clings to power

    British prime minister Boris Johnson - holding on to power precariously after multiple members oJohnson'sis cabinet resigned over the past few days - has become the subject of memes among the online community. A slew of these memes have surfaced on Twitter, encapsulating the current political crisis in Britain as Johnson stares at the strong possibility of being removed as Conservative Party leader and PM.

  • Residential and commercial skyscrapers on the skyline of Abu Dhabi, UAE. (Bloomberg)

    Beijing-based AIIB opens Abu Dhabi office in face of China’s zero-Covid policy

    The China-backed Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank on Thursday announced the opening of its first office outside its Beijing headquarter, in what appears to be an effort to negotiate China's Covid-19-related policies including restrictions on international travel and strict quarantine requirements for returnees. “The AIIB Board of Directors has approved the establishment of an Interim Operational Hub (the Hub), the bank's first overseas office,” the multilateral lender said in a statement on Thursday.

  • Sonia Anand, professor at McMaster University and principal investigator for the study. (McMaster University)

    South Asians may have suffered more than general public in Covid-19: Canadian study

    South Asian communities may have suffered more during the Covid-19 pandemic than the general population, according to an indicative study published in Canada. Researchers from McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, “found the Regional Municipality of Peel, home to a large South Asian Canadian community, emerged as a Covid-19 hotspot before the local rollout of vaccines starting in April 2021”. The city of Brampton was the “epicentre”.

SHARE
Story Saved
×
Saved Articles
Following
My Reads
Sign out
New Delhi 0C
Thursday, July 07, 2022