Bahrain: Bahrain: Citizenship revoked of 72 people, including journalists and human rights defender



On 31 January 2015, the Bahrain Ministry of the Interior announced a list of 72 Bahrainis whose citizenship would be revoked for “illegal acts”. The list includes journalists, a human rights defender, doctors, and members of the opposition, many of whom are now stateless.

The Ministry of Interior published the names of 72 Bahraini citizens whose citizenship has been revoked for a number of “illegal acts”, but does not indicate which person is guilty of which act. The list of “illegal acts” includes spying; financing, carrying out or participating in terrorist actions; and weapons-related activities. There are several references related to freedom of expression including “Defaming the image of the regime, inciting against the regime and spreading false news to hinder the rules of the constitution,” “Defaming brotherly countries” and “Inciting and advocating regime change through illegal means.”

Notable on the list is human rights defender Sayed Ahmed Al-Wedaei, Director of Advocacy at the Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy (BIRD), based in London, where he lives in exile. He fled to the United Kingdom after he was tortured in detention in Bahrain in 2011.

The list also names several members of the media known for their pro-democracy stance, including blogger Ali Abdulemam, who was sentenced in absentia by a military court in 2011 to 15 years in prison for running online forum It also includes journalist Abbas Busafuan, former director of news at LuaLua TV, and Dr. Ali Al-Dair, founder of the online news forum Bahrain Mirror.

While the majority on the list are democracy activists, it also includes several persons who are reportedly aligned with ISIS. “It’s shocking to see journalists, doctors, political activists and a human rights defender on the same list as known supporters of terrorism,” said Khalid Ibrahim, Director of Programmes at the Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR).

The Ministry’s statement says, “Each citizen of Bahrain has the responsibility to act in ways that do not harm the interests of the Kingdom.” The Ministry of Interior said that citizenship was revoked based on a revision it made to Article 10/c of the Bahraini Citizenship Law, with the approval of the Council of Ministers, which issued a decree to revoke the nationality of these 72 persons. It is very difficult to appeal the decision. The Bahrain Centre for Human Rights (BCHR) reports that since November 2012, Bahrain has revoked the citizenship of over 120 people, including the latest round.