Bahrain is stripping dissidents of their citizenship, and the U.S. is silent – The Washington Post

Another example of revocation being used to political ends:

The tiny island kingdom of Bahrain is increasingly turning to a particularly draconian tool of repression: stripping dissidents of their citizenship.

Rights activists say authorities have revoked the citizenship of 103 people so far this year, already more than in 2016. All were convicted of terrorism-related crimes in trials that rights activists say lacked due process and transparency.

The pace of citizenship revocations has increased amid an intensifying crackdown on opposition. And activists charge that the silence of the West, particularly the United States and Britain, has emboldened authorities to press ahead with more repressive measures than the kingdom has employed since the response to mass protests in 2011.

“There’s absolutely zero pressure for them to reform or do anything that’s less than repressive,” said Sayed Ahmed Alwadaei, director of advocacy at the Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy and one of those deprived of his citizenship. That attitude was clear, he said, when President Trump reassured the king of Bahrain at a meeting in May that there would be no “strain” in their relationship.

“This was an indicator that human rights is absolutely not part of the U.S. interests,” Alwadaei said.

An official at the Bahraini Embassy in Britain said authorities revoke citizenship “in the aim of preserving security and stability while countering threats of terrorism.”

“Revoking citizenship is only done in accordance with the provisions of the law, in cases where the person involved were engaged in activities that has caused damage to the interest of the Kingdom and its national security,” the official said in an email, responding to questions on the condition of anonymity.

Bahrain, an archipelago in the Persian Gulf that is home to the U.S. Navy’s 5th Fleet, has a majority-Shiite population but is governed by a Sunni monarchy. In 2011, thousands of protesters demanding democratic reforms were met with a brutal crackdown and mass arrests. International pressure led to an inquiry that documented allegations of torture and violations by security forces, and recommended reforms.

But that pressure has largely evaporated, and the government has recently taken the crackdown to new lengths, dissolving political groups and the kingdom’s last independent newspaper. Many activists and opposition figures have been jailed, and security forces killed five protesters in a raid on a demonstration in May.

Source: Bahrain is stripping dissidents of their citizenship, and the U.S. is silent – The Washington Post

Protest and lose your passport: To silence dissidents, Gulf states are revoking their citizenship | The Economist

Western states that revoke citizenship are not in a position to criticize:

SINCE the small Gulf states became independent from Britain in the latter half of the 20th century, their ruling families have sought fresh methods for keeping their subjects in check. They might close a newspaper, confiscate passports, or lock up the most troublesome. Now, increasingly, they are stripping dissidents—and their families—of citizenship, leaving many of them stateless.

Bahrain is an energetic stripper. Its Sunni royals have dangled the threat of statelessness over its Shia majority to suppress an uprising launched in 2011, during the Arab spring. In 2014 it stripped 21 people of their nationality. A year later the number was up tenfold. “Gulf rulers have turned people from citizens into subservient subjects,” says Abdulhadi Khalaf, a former Bahraini parliamentarian whose citizenship was revoked in 2012 and now lives safely in Sweden. “Our passports are not a birthright. They are part of the ruler’s prerogative.”

Neighbouring states are following suit. Kuwait’s ruling Al-Sabah family have deprived 120 of their people of their nationality in the past two years, says Nawaf al-Hendal, who runs Kuwait Watch, a local monitor. Whereas, in Bahrain, most of those targeted are Shia, Kuwait’s unwanted are largely Sunni. Ahmed al-Shammari, a newspaper publisher, lost his citizenship in 2014.

In 2015 a Saudi jihadist blew himself during Friday prayers in Kuwait, killing 27 Shias. A crackdown followed, targetting the many Saudi Salafists suspected of obtaining Kuwaiti nationality in the chaos that followed the ejection of Iraqi forces from Kuwait in 1991. “We’re looking for frauds,” says General Mazen al-Jarrah, a member of the ruling Al-Sabah family responsible for the emirate’s Citizenship and Residency Affairs.

The socially more liberal United Arab Emirates does it, too. Fearful of unrest orchestrated by the Muslim Brotherhood, the UAE has revoked the citizenship of some 200 of its people since 2011, says Ahmed Mansoor, a human-rights activist now under a travel ban.

The most enthusiastic stripper of all is Qatar. It revoked the citizenship of an entire clan—the Ghafrans—after ten clan leaders were accused of plotting a coup together with Saudi Arabia in 1996. Over 5,000 Ghafrans have lost their nationality since 2004. Many have since won a reprieve, but thousands remain in limbo, says Misfer al-Marri, a Ghafran who is now exiled in Scotland.

The consequences can be severe. Summoned to hand over their ID cards and driving licences, individuals lose not just the perks that come with citizenship of an oil-rich state, such as cushy jobs, but the ability to own a house, a car, a phone or a bank account. Those abroad are barred from returning. Those inside the country cannot leave. The stateless cannot register the birth of a child or legally get married. They might find a sponsor and apply for residents’ permits as foreigners, but if refused they are liable to be arrested for overstaying. “It’s a legal execution,” says one Bahraini, who still has his citizenship. “They’re left without rights.”

Rulers say they are waging war on terror. Among the 72 who lost their Bahraini citizenship in January 2015 were 22 alleged members of Islamic State. But by blurring the boundary between peaceful and violent dissidents, the authorities risk turning the former into the latter. Laws which once permitted the removal of citizenship only for treason (or if people acquired a second nationality) are now much broader. Defaming a brotherly country can cost you your passport in Bahrain. There too the penalty applies to “anyone whose acts contravene his duty of loyalty to the kingdom” or who travels abroad for five years or more without the interior ministry’s consent. Victims include academics, lawyers, former MPs, their wives and young children.

Westerners are in no position to lecture, retort Gulf autocrats. Most EU states revoke citizenship for reasons other than fraudulent applications, in particular for involvement in terrorism. Britain, for instance, allows it if it is conducive to the “public good”. Before becoming prime minister, the then-home secretary, Theresa May, did it 33 times. “Everyone has the right to a nationality,” says Article 15 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Sadly, not everywhere.

Bahrain Revocation Of #Citizenship: Both Tactic And Strategy – Eurasia Review

Changing demographics through citizenship policy:

Among Arab countries and also at global level, Bahrain ranks first in terms of revoking citizenship of its citizens under political excuses, especially in response to peaceful opposition against the government’s policies. This issue has made Bahrain subject to strong criticism from regional and global human rights bodies. Last April, Nidal Al Salman, a member of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights, said 280 Bahrainis have had their citizenship revoked since 2012 and about 200 cases of revocation of citizenship have taken place in 2015 alone. He added that university professors, religious leaders, businesspeople and former parliament members have been among those people who have lost their citizenship. Meanwhile, the UN high commissioner for human rights has greatly criticized revocation of Bahrainis’ citizenship. According to an announcement by the Bahrain Center for Human Rights, more than 3,000 people have been sent to jail on charges of taking part in anti-government demonstrations or inciting hatred against the ruling regime.

In its statement on March 7, 2016, Amnesty International said forceful expulsion of citizens from Bahrain and revocation of their nationality is a blatant violation of human rights and other rules of international law, especially the principles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Despite all the criticism, revocation of citizenship has apparently turned into a major tool for the suppression of political opponents in Bahrain. Amnesty International has added that revocation of citizenship has turned into the best weapon in the hands of the Bahraini government to suppress its opponents, while issuing warning about increased frequency of revocation of citizenship and forceful expulsion of the country’s citizens.

Systematic citizenship as opposed to revocation of citizenship

On the other hand, in parallel to revoking citizenship of opposition figures, the government of Bahrain follows the policy of systematic granting of citizenship and intentional acceptance of foreigners. It seems that the Al Khalifah regime has put the policy of changing the composition of the country’s population on top of its priorities in order to counter its opponents. Many analysts maintain that Al Khalifah is trying to implement the same policy in the country, which the British monarchy implemented in Palestine. They believe that by revoking the citizenship of Bahraini people and granting citizenship of Bahrain to foreign nationals and expulsion of Bahrainis from their homeland, Al Khalifah regime is actually implementing the same strategy that Britain implemented in the occupied Palestinian territories. Based on a plan by the British government, Israel started in 1967 to secretly change the composition of population in the al-Quds (Jerusalem). As a result, while in 1967 about 7,000 Palestinians lived in al-Quds with no Israeli citizen being present there, at present, there are 200,000 Israelis living in this city along with about 300,000 Palestinians.

By following suit with that plan, the Al Khalifah officials are pursuing a purposive and long-term plan to change the composition of Bahrain’s population – most of whose residents are Shias – according to their will. Hadi al-Mousavi, a prominent member of Bahrain’s Al-Wefaq National Islamic Society, says in this regard, “Since Shias account for a majority in Bahrain and Bahrain is the only member country of the (Persian) Gulf Cooperation Council with a Shia majority population, the Al Khalifah regime is incessantly trying to change the population composition of the country.” Another noteworthy point about this policy, which is being followed diligently by the government of Bahrain, is that Bahraini officials, unlike officials of other countries in the world, give no figures on the number of people who have been granted the citizenship of Bahrain on an annual basis.

With regard to figures that have been released so far, a report by Al-Wefaq National Islamic Society can be cited here, which says, “The Al Khalifah regime granted citizenship of Bahrain to more than 95,000 foreign nationals between 2002 and 2014.” Sheikh Ali Salman, the secretary general of Al-Wefaq National Islamic Society, who is now doing time in Al Khalifah regime’s prison, made a speech in August 2014, describing as “catastrophic” the regime’s policy for granting citizenship to foreign nationals while calling on the people of Bahrain to seriously oppose this policy. In reality, the policy of revoking citizenship of political opponents in Bahrain has been used by Al Khalifah regime as both a tactic and a strategy and this reality can explain why Manama is resisting international protesters against the country’s recent suppressive measures.

Source: Revocation Of Citizenship: Both Tactic And Strategy – Analysis – Eurasia Review