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Thursday, April 24, 2014  

Bahrain cancels citizenships of 31 activists
DUBAI Bahraini authorities have revoked the citizenships of 31 activists, among them two former members of parliament, for having “undermined state security,” state news agency BNA reported on Wednesday.

The names of the 31 activists, including brothers Jawad and Jalal Fairuz, both ex-MPs who represented the major Al Wefaq bloc, were listed in the report, which quoted an interior ministry statement.

Also named was Ali Mashaima, son of prominent activist Hassan Mashaima who is head of the radical opposition movement Haq and who is serving a life sentence for allegedly plotting against the monarchy.

The men include London-based dissidents Saeed Al Shehabi and Ali Mushaima, the son of jailed opposition leader Hassan Mushaima, as well as clerics, human rights lawyers and activists, according to Mohammed Al Mascati, head of the Bahrain Youth Centre for Human Rights.    

In a statement, six Bahraini groups — including Al Wefaq — announced they reject and condemn “all forms of violence regardless of its source” and “defend the rights of citizens in free expression and peaceful gatherings.”   

Another former MP and leading Al Wefaq member, Matar Matar, said that some named on the list were acquitted by the military court while others were never charged with “undermining state security.”

Matar said the decision to revoke nationality was an escalation of the conflict in Bahrain and accused the government of having granted citizenship to foreigners to boost their numbers in the country.    

“They want to replace us as a pro-democracy movement via nationalisation of mercenaries and revoking our nationality,” Matar said.  “This is a reflection of a complex persecution policy against race, sect and political orientation. It is against Bahrain’s minority and the pro-democracy movement in general.”  

Other opposition sources said that some of the named activists are currently living abroad. Amnesty International said it appeared as though Bahrain had withdrawn the men’s citizenship on the basis of their political views.  

 “Most worryingly, the authorities are making some in the group stateless. This, as well as any arbitrary deprivation of nationality, is prohibited under international law,” said Philip Luther, Amnesty’s director for the Middle East and North Africa.  

 “We urgently call on the Bahraini authorities to rescind this frightening and chilling decision.”  

 It was not clear whether the men stripped of their nationality would be expelled from Bahrain.  

According to the International Federation for Human Rights, 80 people have died in Bahrain since the unrest began.

Two local rights groups — The Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights and the Bahrain Center for Human Rights — voiced “grave concern” over the decision to revoke the citizenships.

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 groups called on the United Nations and world powers to persuade the authorities to “reverse this provocative decision.”

 Agencies
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