By Ali Al-Bassam
Impunity Watch Reporter, Middle East
MANAMA, Bahrain — State news agencies reported last Wednesday that Bahraini authorities revoked the citizenships of 31 people, two of them being former members of parliament, for having “undermined state security.”
Among the names are London-based dissidents Saeed Al-Shehabi and Ali Mushaima, the son of the jailed opposition leader Hassan Mushaima. Mushaima is known for having scaled the roof of the Bahraini embassy in London to publicize opposition demands for democratic change. Also among them are clerics, human rights lawyers, and activists.
The Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights (BYSHR) and Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR) said that they had “grave concern over the systematic targeting of prominent political activists, former members of parliament, clerics and others.” They say that the government failed to provide sufficient evidence for justifying the revocation of the individuals’ citizenships. “The BYSHR and the BCHR express grave concern over the systematic targeting of prominent political activists, former members of parliament, clerics and others,” said in a joint statement by the two activist groups. The decision, they said, “is intended to punish them for expressing peaceful dissent and thereby intimidate others from exercising their right to freedom of expression.”
The ministry’s report that was released with the names of the individuals whose citizenships were revoked says that all those affected will have a right to challenge the decision in court. The revocations were applied under Article 10 of the Nationality Law, granting the “withdrawal of nationality of any Bahraini citizen who causes damage to state security.”
The two MPs whose citizenships were revoked, brothers Jawad and Jalal Fairouz, are leading figures from the Shia majority Al-Wefaq National Islamic Society. A former MP who is also affiliated with Al-Wefaq, Matar Matar, informed AFP that some of those named on the list were acquitted by the military court while others were not actually charged with “undermining state security.” “They want to replace us as a pro-democracy movement via nationalization of mercenaries and revoking our nationality,” said Matar. Matar claims that Bahrain’s decision “is a reflection of a complex persecution policy against race, sect, and political orientation. It is against Bahrain’s Persian minority, Shi’ites and the pro-democracy movement in general.”
Amnesty International believes that Bahrain made the decision to withdraw citizenships on the basis of their political views. “Most worryingly, the authorities are making some in the group stateless. This, as well ass any arbitrary deprivation of nationality is prohibited under international law,” said Philip Luther, Amnesty International’s director for the Middle East and North Africa.
For further information, please see:
Al Jazeera — Bahrain Revokes Citizenships of 31 People — 7 November 2012
Foreign Policy — Bahrain Revokes Citizenship of 31 Opposition Activists — 7 November 2012
Khaleej Times — Bahrain Revokes Citizenship of 31 Nationals — 8 November 2012
Reuters — Bahrain Revokes Nationality of 31 over National Security — 7 November 2012