Government Crackdown on Opposition Constitutes a Blatant Human Rights Violation

Press release
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The International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) strongly denounces the latest decision by the Ministry of Interior to revoke the Bahraini nationality from 31 political opponents, including former Members of Parliament from Al Wefaq Shia movement, and religious clerics. The Ministry of Interior released an official statement on November 7th 2012 announcing that it has revoked the nationality of 31 Bahraini citizens “according to clause (c) of Article (10) of the Citizenship Law which permits the re-evaluation of nationality when a holder of the Bahraini citizenship causes damage to state security” [1]. FIDH recalls that in the 1980s amidst the government’s crackdown on political opposition, the former Emir of Bahrain issued a similar decision where he revoked the citizenship of a number of political opponents.

Despite the claims of the Bahraini authorities that this decision comes in conformity with Bahrain’s international legal obligations, in particularly the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), FIDH recalls Article 15 (2) of the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights where it states that “No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his nationality” [2]. FIDH considers this decision is a blatant violation of international human rights law and views it as yet another attempt to silence the political dissent that has swept the country amidst the February 2011 protests.

This latest decision comes in light of the systematic crackdown on political opposition and human rights activists in Bahrain as documented by FIDH’s report released last September [3]. On October 30th 2012, the Ministry of Interior issued yet another repressive order where it banned all public rallies and demonstrations “until peace and social order is restored”. FIDH calls on the Bahraini authorities to honour their pledges made during the UPR sessions at the UN Human Rights Council in September 2012.

Furthermore, on November 3rd, Sayed Yousif AlMuhafdhah, Acting Vice President and Head of Documentation Unit of FIDH member organization, the Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR), was arrested in Duraz while he was documenting the injury of a man who was shot by bird-shot pellets at a protest earlier that day. AlMuhafdhah was taken to the public prosecution where he was remanded seven days of detention on charges of “participation in illegal protests”. FIDH recalls that its Deputy Secretary General and President of BCHR, Nabeel Rajab remains arbitrarily detained since July 2012 as he was sentenced to three years imprisonment on charges of “participation and calling for illegal protests”.

FIDH urge the national authorities to respect their international human rights obligations and to honour their pledges made during the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of Bahrain during the September 2012 session of the UN Human Rights Council where they accepted 145 of the recommendations and partially accepted 13 and renewed their commitment to implement the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI), which included the right to freedom of assembly and expression.

We had hoped that Bahrain would honour its pledges before the UN Human Rights Council, but blatant human rights violations continue to occur, as we witness bans on peaceful demonstrations, the revoking of the nationality of political opponents and the continuing targeting of human rights defenders such as Yousif AlMuhafdhah and FIDH Deputy Secretary General, Nabeel Rajab who remains imprisoned until today said Souhayr Belhassen, FIDH President.

We reinstate our call to the Bahraini government to unconditionally release all those detained for exercising their fundamental rights to freedom of expression and freedom of assembly added Souhayr Belhassen.

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