Two Bahraini Shias jailed, made stateless over Iran ties

Two Bahraini Shias jailed, made stateless over Iran ties
Bahrain sentenced two nationals to jail terms and stripped them of their citizenship on Wednesday over alleged ties to neighbouring Iran.
2 min read
05 October, 2017
The pair were sentenced to five years in jail [AFP]

Two Bahraini nationals were sentenced to jail terms and stripped them of their citizenship on Wednesday, after they were convicted of training in Iran and the "possession of weapons for terrorist purposes". 

The two Shia Bahrainis were each jailed for five years, according to local sources.

A statement from the public prosecutor's office on Wednesday said the defendants had been convicted of charges including training in the use of firearms and explosives and possessing weapons intended for "terrorist" use.

The Sunni-ruled Gulf archipelago with a majority Shia population has been rocked by unrest since 2011, with protesters demanding a constitutional monarchy and an elected government.

Hundreds of people have since been arrested and a string of high-profile clerics and activists jailed and stripped of citizenship as the authorities crack down on dissent.

Authorities in the key American ally across the Gulf from Iran have reported several attacks on police across the kingdom in recent months, some deadly. 

Bahrain has accused Iran of backing the protests to destabilise the tiny country, an accusation Tehran denies.

Earlier this year, the Bahraini parliament passed a constitutional amendment allowing military courts to try civilians charged with "terrorism", a vaguely defined legal term.

Ruled for more than two centuries by the al-Khalifa dynasty, Bahrain is home to the US Fifth Fleet and a British military base that is still under construction. 

Last month, a report by Amnesty International accused Bahrain of using violence to crackdown on protests and dissent.

Amnesty International said it had documented security officers beating protesters, firing tear gas, shotguns and semi-automatic rifles directly at protesters and driving armoured vehicles and personnel carriers into protests.

Entitled "No one can protect you: Bahrain's year of crushing dissent", the Amnesty report said at least six people had been killed, including a child, in the crackdowns.

Bahrain has intensified a crackdown on critics, shutting down two main political groups, revoking the citizenship of the spiritual leader of the Shia Muslim community and jailing rights campaigners.

The country is also part of a Saudi-led alliance that cut ties with Qatar in June over allegations Doha supported Islamist extremist groups and had close ties to Iran.

Qatar, which is itself home to the largest US air base in the Gulf, has denied the allegations.