Today, the Bahraini authorities revoked the citizenship of Ayatollah Isa Qassim. It was declared in a statement released by the Bahraini Ministry of Interior this afternoon.
“Revoking Shiekh Isa Qassim’s nationality is an unprecedented low for the Bahraini authorities,” said ADHRB Executive Director Husain Abdulla. “After Bahrain’s foreign minister insulted the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights for his condemnation of citizenship revocation last week, the government showed that they no longer have any regard for any international human rights standards, and are prepared to silence their critics by any means available.”
“We are deeply concerned that these actions will escalate tensions on the streets and may even lead to violence, as targeting the country’s leading Shia cleric is considered to be a red line for many Bahrainis,” said Sayed Ahmed al-Wadaei, Director of Advocacy at the Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy. “Bahrain’s allies in Washington and London need to send a strong message to Bahrain, that there will be consequences for the unrelenting increases in their repression.”
On 13 June 2016, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Prince Zeid bin Ra’ad Al-Hussain warned that repression “will not eliminate people’s grievances” in his opening statement at the 32nd UN Human Rights Council session. The statement was welcomed by NGOs and criticised by Bahrain’s Foreign Minister, who said that the Bahraini authorities “will not allow the undermining of our security and stability and will not waste our time listening to the words of a high commissioner who has no strength or power.”
High Commissioner further stated that at least 250 people in Bahrain have reportedly been stripped of their citizenship by the Government because of their alleged disloyalty to the interests of the Kingdom. In addition to these severe restrictions on freedom of expression, which contravene Bahrain’s international human rights obligations, an indefinite ban on gatherings in the capital has been in place since 2013. Dozens of people – including minors – have been prosecuted for participating in protests.