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Nine More Political Dissidents Are Stripped of Their Nationalities in Bahrain

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Bahrain going through the third year of an uprising calling for civil and political rights. Photograph by: Sayed Baqer. Copyright: Demotix

Bahrain has ordered that the nationalities of nine political dissidents be revoked, almost a year after 31 dissidents including two former lawmakers were stripped of their nationality.

A law that makes it easier to take away the nationality of anyone found guilty of “destabilizing the security of the country“ was ratified by the king of Bahrain in 2013.  One of the previous 31 was deported from Bahrain; Lebanon has accepted to let him in. Four more have been accused of violating the terms of their stay and are facing the danger of deportation. Two ex-lawmakers are seeking asylum in the U.K. after their nationality was revoked while receiving medical treatment there.

Oil rich Bahrain has witnessed an ongoing humanitarian crisis since an uprising began in 2011 that called for civil and political rights in the country, which is ruled by the Al-Khalifa family. They control more than half the crucial positions in the country. 

The judges ruling on cases like these are appointed by the king after they are chosen by the minister of justice, who is the cousin of the king. Some judges are also relatives of the king. 

The Bahraini judicial system has received a lot of criticism for targeting the government's political opponents. “Bahrain’s criminal justice system fails to deliver basic accountability and impartial justice,” a Human Rights Watch report said

A special commission found that Bahrain tortured and mistreated opponents of the regime, and the Bahraini government has postponed indefinitely a visit by Juan Mendez, the United Nations special rapporteur on torture.

On Twitter, the sister of one of the dissidents whose nationality was stripped tweeted about the experience. Rawan Sanqoor wrote that her brother Ali Sanqoor was tortured before the sentencing. Sanqoor is accused of planning to attack the Dry Dock detention facility with 12 other and forming a “terrorist group”.

Rawan Sangoor tweeted:

Only God can judge us. My brother was sentenced in the attempt to attack the Dry Dock detention centre. 15 years and his nationality revoked

My brother was sentenced yesterday in the case of planning to attack the Dry Dock prison. Before he was sentenced and his nationality was stripped he was tortured to confess

My brother was taken to an unknown location and deep down I knew that the unknown location has to be the torture dungeons, the central intelligence directorate

My brother was held in the torture dungeons for six days. He was put in solitary confinement in a room which the sunlight never reaches, with his hands and feet tied

He was tortured and humiliated for six straight days in ways I can't find the strength to describe. We lived a week of fear for his life while he was in the hands of heartless people

Six days of horror passed. I met him after that in the Dry Dock. He couldn't stand on his feet, I thought of nothing but to hug him till I cry

Lawyer Reem Khalaf, who represents some of the defendants, tweeted:

New sentences that are not limited to imprisonment have started today, with the nationalities of seven [updated later on to nine] defendants revoked, four of which were sentenced to 15 years in prison, one to 10 years, and three to seven years

Lawyer Fatima Alhawaj commented after reading the sentence:

When the regime decides to revoke a nationality / a political decision driven by variable political circumstances / but revoking nationality by a court ruling is a dangerous downfall

Forming tribes was an important part of the human evolution — the need for food, shelter and safety made it necessary to group and start tribes. The tribe then became more structured, and the leader punished those who didn't conform to the ways of the tribe by expelling them. Being expelled from the tribe was like a death sentence, abandoned to face the dangers of the world by yourself without your family.

Some dissidents in Bahrain complain that the country is run in a tribal way. With this latest round of nationalities being revoked for not agreeing with the regime, it's not hard to see why the comparison is made. 

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