Bahraini authorities have revoked the citizenship of seven journalists and social media activists since the outbreak of pro-democracy rallies in February 2011 as the ruling Al Khalifah regime continues with its oppressive measures against political dissidents in the tiny Persian Gulf kingdom.
Reporters Without Borders said on Wednesday that Bahraini officials have used this form of penalty in a bid to pressure media outlets to essentially “toe the government line.”
There are reports that more than 550 Bahrainis have been stripped of their citizenship since 2012.
Bahrain’s Information Affairs Authority issued the order to shut down prominent and opposition-linked al-Wasat newspaper first verbally on June 4 last year, and later through a statement published by the state-run Bahrain News Agency.
The closure of independent Bahraini newspaper came after it published an article about popular protests and a general strike in Morocco’s restive northern city of al-Hoceima.
Thousands of anti-regime protesters have held demonstrations in Bahrain on an almost daily basis ever since a popular uprising began in the country in mid-February 2011.
They are demanding that the Al Khalifah regime relinquish power and allow a just system representing all Bahrainis to be established.
Manama has gone to great lengths to clamp down on any sign of dissent. On March 14, 2011, troops from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates were deployed to assist Bahrain in its crackdown.
Scores of people have lost their lives and hundreds of others sustained injuries or got arrested as a result of the Al Khalifah regime’s crackdown.
On March 5, 2017, Bahrain’s parliament approved the trial of civilians at military tribunals in a measure blasted by human rights campaigners as being tantamount to imposition of an undeclared martial law countrywide. Bahraini monarch King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifah ratified the constitutional amendment on April 3 last year.