Bahrain government bars opposition groups from elections
- The Shura Council, the upper house of Bahrain’s parliament, approved legislation that prevents members of dissolved political groups from participating in the upcoming parliamentary elections.
- Such groups include al-Wefaq, tied to Bahrain’s politically and economically marginalized Shiite majority, and the National Democratic Action Society (Waad), a secular movement.
- Last year, courts ordered the dissolution of the two primary opposition groups, arguing that they fostered violence and terrorism in the country.
“Bahrain bars members of opposition groups from standing in elections” (Reuters | May 2018)
“Bahrain bans members of dissolved parties from running in elections” (Middle East Monitor | February 2018)
“Election ban on members of dissolved political societies approved” (Gulf Daily News | April 2018)
Bahrain strips Shiite leader of citizenship as anti-dissident campaign continues
- The Interior Ministry stripped Ayatollah Sheikh Isa Qassim, a prominent Shiite cleric, of Bahraini citizenship, stirring protest among the Gulf country’s Shiite majority.
- The denaturalization took place soon after a court ordered the suspension of Bahrain’s main opposition group, Al-Wefaq, which has led pro-democracy protests in the country since 2011.
- The Sunni-led government has accused Shiite leaders of promoting foreign interests (namely Iran’s) and fomenting sectarian division and extremism in the country, leading to their denaturalization and expulsion.
“Bahrain strips Sheikh Isa Qassim of nationality” (Al Jazeera)
“Bahrain’s Sunni Rulers Revoke Citizenship of Top Shiite Cleric” (The New York Times)
“Bahrain strips top Shi’ite Muslim cleric of citizenship” (Reuters)
(Image Credit: AP via Al Jazeera)
Indonesian women continue migrating to Middle East for work despite government ban
- A new report from Migrant Care has found that more than 1,000 women have traveled to the Middle East for domestic work despite government moratorium.
- The Indonesian government announced a ban on any new labor-based migration to the Middle East in May 2015 after several high-profile reports of abuse.
- The revelation comes amidst ongoing efforts by the government to formalize labor practices in the domestic services industry both at home and abroad, with an estimated 2.3 million Indonesian domestic workers abroad and an additional undocumented population.
“Indonesian women defy ban to work as maids in Middle East: survey” (The Thomson Reuters Foundation)
“Indonesia plans to stop sending new live-in maids abroad” (The Straits Times)
“Six Gulf countries informed of Indonesia domestic workers ban” (Gulf News)
Lebanese immigrants in the Gulf fear deportation as GCC-Lebanon relations deteriorate
- Relations between Lebanon and the Gulf Cooperation Council have deteriorated after Lebanon refused to condemn attacks on a Saudi ambassador in Iran.
- Sunni Gulf countries have targeted those viewed as sympathetic or connected to Shiite group Hezbollah in Lebanon, though Lebanese immigrants fear what constitutes “sympathy” or “connection” may be broad and arbitrary.
- To date, Bahrain and Kuwait have deported Lebanese on the basis of Hezbollah sympathy, and Lebanese in other Gulf countries fear their visa-renewal process.
“Lebanese expats fearful as Gulf expels dozens accused of Hezbollah links” (Reuters)
“Bahrain sends home Lebanese citizens” (The National)
“Saudi Arabia’s bitter Lebanese divorce” (Reuters)
(Image Credit: Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)
Bahrain revokes citizenship of dissidents as denaturalization campaign continues
- Five Bahrainis were stripped of their citizenship and sentenced to five to 15 years of jail time after being convicted of terror affiliation, public-institution disruption, and weapon possession.
- Political dissidents and human rights organizations have accused the Sunni monarchy of weaponizing citizenship for demographic redistribution and the suppression of dissent and rights advocacy among the Shia-majority population.
- Denaturalization is a controversial practice that leaves many effectively stateless and subject to deportation, with 208 Bahrainis having been denaturalized in 2015 alone.
“Manama Deprives Five More Bahrainis of Citizenship” (Tasnim News Agency)
“Bahrain: Stop Deportations of Nationals” (Human Rights Watch)
“Bahrain citizen expulsions ‘chilling’, says Amnesty” (Arabian Business)
(Image Credit: via Human Rights Watch)
Execution of Saudi Shiite leader sparks protests throughout the Middle East and South Asia
- From Saudi Arabia to India by way of Bahrain, Lebanon, Iraq, Iran, and Pakistan, Shiite Muslims protested the Saudi government’s execution of Shia cleric Nimr al-Nimr.
- Nimr had been convicted of order followers to attack the police, a crime of “banditry” that carries an automatic death sentence.
- Before his arrest in 2012, Nimr had publicly called for nonviolent demonstrations to draw attention to the oppression of the minority Shia community in Saudi Arabia.
“Shi’ite Muslims worldwide decry execution of Saudi cleric” (Reuters)
“Protests in Kashmir, Bahrain and Pakistan over killing of Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr” (The Guardian)
“Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr: Figurehead Shia cleric” (BBC)
(Image Credit: AFP, via BBC)
Bahrain court sentences leader of Shiite opposition party to four years in prison
- Sheikh Ali Salman, leader of Al Wefaq, was arrested in December on charges of “publicly inciting hatred” and “insulting public institutions” in the Sunni-led country.
- The sentencing is the latest in a crackdown on the country’s Shiite-led pro-democracy movement, which has included citizenship revocation and banishment for the political opposition.
“Al Wefaq, the opposition group, said that the verdict was part of a ‘security campaign against every person demanding legitimate rights,’ and that the court ‘ruled against the majority of the people of Bahrain that adopt Salman’s path in demanding democratic transition, justice and dignity.'”
More on this story at The New York Times.