Amnesty International has strongly condemned Bahraini officials for sentencing more than a hundred Shia political dissidents to jail and revoking their citizenship in a “ludicrous” mass trial.
“The sheer scale of this mass trial is ludicrous; it is hard to believe that justice can have been delivered through a fair trial process when this number of people are simultaneously sentenced.
“This is one of the most severe rulings yet, and is further proof that the Bahrain authorities have no regard whatsoever for international fair trial standards,” Lynn Maalouf, Middle East Research Director at the UK-based rights group, said Wednesday.
She added, “The Bahraini government is using revocation of nationality – rendering many of its citizens stateless in the process – and expulsion, as tools to crush all forms of opposition, dissent and activism.
“Arbitrarily depriving citizens of their nationality, turning them into stateless people and banishing them by forcing them to leave the country is a violation of international law,” Maalouf pointed out, noting, “Bahrain’s authorities must immediately halt all planned expulsions and allow those it has already expelled to return to the country and reinstate their nationality.”
On Tuesday, Acting Head of Terror Crime Prosecution, Chief Prosecutor Hamad Shaheen, said the Supreme Criminal Court had found 115 defendants guilty of forming of a “terrorist group” called Zulfiqar Battalions, possession of explosive devices and flammable materials, training in the use of munitions, attempted murder of police officers and communication with a foreign state.
Fifty-three defendants received life imprisonment, three were sentenced to 15 years behind bars and fifteen others got seven years in prison.
The rest of the defendants were sentenced to jail terms ranging from three to five years.
Thousands of anti-regime protesters have held demonstrations in Bahrain on an almost daily basis ever since a popular uprising began in the country in mid-February 2011.
They are demanding that the Al Khalifah dynasty relinquish power and allow a just system representing all Bahrainis to be established.
Manama has gone to great lengths to clamp down on any sign of dissent. On March 14, 2011, troops from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates were deployed to assist Bahrain in its crackdown.
Scores of people have lost their lives and hundreds of others sustained injuries or got arrested as a result of the Al Khalifah regime’s crackdown.
On March 5, 2017, Bahrain’s parliament approved the trial of civilians at military tribunals in a measure blasted by human rights campaigners as being tantamount to imposition of an undeclared martial law countrywide.
Bahraini monarch King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifah ratified the constitutional amendment on April 3 last year.