Bahraini court jails 24 Shia Muslim, strips them of citizenship
A Bahrain court has sentenced 24 Shia citizens to jail and revoked their nationality as the ruling Al Khalifah regime presses ahead with its heavy-handed clampdown on the majority community in the Persian Gulf kingdom.
An unnamed Bahraini judicial source said Thursday that the High Criminal Court had found the defendants guilty of alleged forming of a “terrorist group,” travelling abroad for “weapons and explosives training” and attempted murder of policemen.
The source also noted that 10 of the defendants had received life imprisonment, 10 sentenced to a decade behind bars and the remaining four to jail terms between three and five years.
Since February 14, 2011, Bahraini people have been holding peaceful protest rallies on an almost daily basis, demanding that the Al Khalifah family relinquish power and let a just system representing all Bahrainis be established.
Bahrainis have also been complaining against widespread discrimination against the Shia majority in the kingdom.
Manama has responded to the protests with lethal force, drawing international criticism.
Bahraini authorities have further detained human rights campaigners, broken up major opposition political parties, revoked the nationality of several pro-democracy activists and deported those left stateless.
In February, Human Rights Watch (HRW) urged Bahrain to immediately end it arbitrary deportations and restore citizenship to the people whose nationality was revoked unfairly.
“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,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at the HRW.
According to the New York-based rights group, Bahraini authorities have stripped more than 570 nationals of their citizenship since 2012.