Bahraini court sentences 24 Shias to jail, strips them of citizenship

A Bahraini 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.

Quoting an unnamed Bahraini judicial source, Iran based 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 report said 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 14 February 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 about widespread discrimination against the Shia majority in the kingdom.

However, the Al Khalifah regime 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Watch urged Bahrain to immediately end arbitrary deportations and restore citizenship to the people whose nationality was revoked unfairly.

“Bahraini authorities have dropped all pretences of pluralism and tolerance for dissent and are 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.

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