2018: Year that Recorded Highest Number of Citizenship Revocation in Bahrain, Over 800 in Total since 2011
2019-04-16 - 2:09 am
Bahrain Mirror (Exclusive): The revocation of citizenship in Bahrain after 2018 has become no more than a symbolic punitive measure- a pattern and part of a clear plan to purge the country of the opposition at any price, or perhaps a plan to change the country's demographic makeup the quickest way possible, even by the most brutal means.
Following the total elimination of opposition groups and civil society, the arrests of the most prominent political and human rights figures, the complete suppression of remaining voices, and the ongoing imprisonment of thousands every year, without any deterrent, the revocation of nationalities seemed to be the final touch in cleansing process.
The number of citizens who have been stripped of their Bahraini nationality since 2011 amount to about 800, in a country with an indigenous population of 650,000, which is the biggest evidence of this practice.
"To put that figure into context, were the same policy applied to the UK, one million Britons would be made stateless," says author and political analyst Bill Law.
The authorities have not only withdrawn the citizenships of political defendants in trials, but have also deprived all children whose fathers were imprisoned from having birth certificates and passports issued, as noted by the US State Department said in its annual 2017 report on human rights in countries around the world.
The numbers alarmingly increased during 2018, which recorded the highest number of citizenship revocation affecting 298 citizens, with the total number of citizens stripped of their nationality in Bahrain since 2011 amounting to about 804, according to the statistics of organizations and news reports.
In 2018, a court of cassation issued a final verdict, revoking the citizenship of Ayatollah Sheikh Isa Qassim, the spiritual leader of the country's Shia citizens, who was under house arrest before leaving for London to receive emergency treatment.
The year 2018 also witnessed a rare incident in the history of the country's judiciary, and perhaps in history of all countries of the world, as 115 people were stripped of their citizenship in a single trial, in what was known as the Zulfiqar Brigades case. News agencies reported on this verdict in surprise, while Amnesty International described the trial as "ridiculous" and "one of the most severe rulings yet, and is further proof that the Bahrain authorities have no regard whatsoever for international fair trial standards."
While some of the verdicts revoking citizenship were issued by royal decrees, or based on decisions of the Minister of the Interior by virtue of his new powers, all the recent verdicts stripping detainees or activists of their nationality were issued directly by the judiciary, in addition to prison terms or death penalties.
Even if the prison sentence issued does not exceed five years, the defendant will not be safe from the revocation of nationality.
On allegations and charges of recruiting members in terrorist cells, smuggling and manufacturing weapons, forming a terrorist cell, training in camps in Iraq, Iran or Lebanon, harboring or funding members of terrorist groups, shooting at police officers, attempted murder or carrying out bombings with no casualties, hundreds of Bahrainis who oppose the regime have been rendered stateless.
The inevitable fate of defendants, accused of joining organizations such as the February 14 coalition, Saraya Al-Mukhtar or Saraya Al-Ashtar, in addition to imprisonment is the revocation of their citizenship. As for the terrorist ISIS group, its members in Bahrain only received 8 verdicts of citizenship withdrawal.
In one of the most prominent trials, judge Ali Al-Dhahrani, withdrew the nationality of six members of the same family, the family of martyr Ali Al-Mo'min, who was killed during the historic protests of the Pearl Roundabout in 2011. The family's charge was, of course, the "formation of a terrorist group," along with 24 other defendants.
In the case of the escape of martyr Rida Al-Ghasra and his companions from Jaw prison, the court decided to revoke the nationality of 47 detainees who were accused of harboring them.
At the end of November, the Bahraini judiciary destroyed a Bahraini family completely after a Bahraini couple were sentenced to prison and stripped of their nationalities, leaving their two young children parentless. Zeinab Makki Abbas Marhoun was the first Bahraini woman to be stripped of her citizenship in the political trials the country has witnessed over the past 8 years.
Moreover, the appeal courts upheld all the verdicts ruling the revocation of citizenship, which were challenged, without exception.
In 2008, the authorities deported eight citizens, including one woman, who had already been stripped of their citizenship. They were all exiled to Iraq.
Amnesty International condemned the deportations, urging to put an end to them, and said in a statement that expelling them from their homeland was yet another "display of the kingdom's steady and sustained disregard of its own citizens and for human rights and international law more broadly."
For its part, Human Rights Watch called on Bahrain to put an end "to these arbitrary deportations and restore citizenship to those who have been left stateless or whose citizenship was revoked unfairly or arbitrarily," and considered that "Bahraini authorities have dropped all pretense of pluralism and tolerance for dissent and are clearly stripping away the citizenships of people whom they find undesirable."
London-based Salam Organization has adopted the case of those who have been stripped of their nationalities and followed it closely, issuing several reports and statements on its developments. The organization also held a number of seminars abroad calling on the European Union to pressure the Bahraini authorities so they would stop this destructive policy. It issued a detailed report on the revocation of citizenship in Bahrain, entitled "Citizens without Identity" and also launched a website dedicated to those whose citizenship has been withdrawn named: "I'm Bahrain".
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