Bahraini opposition forces have condemned authorities’ decision to strip 72 natives of their citizenship, saying that most of those whose citizenship had been revoked were government dissidents.
“There are 50 people who lost their citizenship as punishment for annoying the government by practicing politics,” five local opposition groups, including Al Wefaq – the country’s largest opposition society – said in a joint statement in the early hours of Sunday.
A day earlier, Bahraini authorities revoked the citizenship of 72 Bahraini nationals, saying the latter have committed acts that harmed their country’s interests.
However, opposition forces said that the decision largely targeted activists who campaign for democratic transition in the Gulf statelet.
They said that most of those whose citizenship was revoked were active dissidents who had been forced to flee the country and continue to campaign from abroad for political freedoms in Bahrain.
They went on to say that Saturday’s decision raises the number of Bahrainis who lost their citizenship to 115, including armed fighters in foreign countries as well as political and human rights activists.
The Bahraini Interior Ministry had said it had suggested depriving these people of their nationalities to protect Bahrain’s security and stability and fight “terrorist threats.”
Bahrain’s nationality law allows the authorities to revoke citizenships of natives who commit acts which “harm Bahrain’s national security.”
In November of 2012, the Bahraini Interior Ministry revoked the citizenships of 31 nationals after accusing them of posing threats to their country’s security.
Bahrain has been suffering political turmoil since 2011. Bahraini authorities accuse Iran of backing a Shia uprising in the Gulf state.