Bahrain jails five Shias, strips them of citizenship

KONFRONTASI-Judicial authorities in Bahrain have sentenced five Shia Muslims to prison and revoked their citizenship on alleged charges of terrorism.

A prosecution statement said on Monday that the criminal court sentenced two of the unnamed defendants to three and ten years in prison respectively over alleged involvement in activities linked to the country’s biggest opposition bloc, al-Wefaq National Islamic Society.

The same court found the other three defendants guilty of joining another opposition group, possession of weapons for use in "terror" attacks and assaulting police. The court sentenced each of them to 15 years in jail.

The court also stripped all the five defendants of their citizenship.  

The verdict comes as the latest in a series of rulings made against opposition leaders and activists.

Bahrain's opposition groups are calling for reforms in the country. 

Since February 14, 2011, thousands of anti-regime protesters have held numerous demonstrations on an almost daily basis in Bahrain, calling for the Al Khalifah family to relinquish power. The Al Khalifah regime is engaged in a harsh crackdown on dissent and widespread discrimination against the country's Shia majority.

In March 2011, troops from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates were deployed to assist the Bahraini regime in its crackdown on peaceful protests.

Scores of people have been killed and hundreds of others injured or arrested in the harsh crackdown.

Amnesty International and several other international rights organizations have frequently censured the Bahraini regime for rampant human rights abuses against opposition activists and anti-regime protesters.

Last week, Manama revoked the citizenship of the country’s prominent Shia cleric, Shiekh Isa Qassim, which prompted huge criticism at domestic and international levels.

The Al Khalifah regime’s June 20 move against Sheikh Qassim came less than a week after Bahrain’s Justice Ministry suspended al-Wefaq and dissolved the opposition Islamic Enlightenment Institution and al-Risala Islamic Association.

Al-Wefaq’s Secretary General Sheikh Ali Salman has been in prison since December 2014 on charges of attempting to overthrow the regime and collaborating with foreign powers, which he has denied.[mr/ptv]