The Bahraini regime deported eight people to Iraq after they were convicted of damaging state security and stripped of citizenship, Human Rights Watch [HRW] said on Sunday.
Last week's deportations are part of a crackdown on people the government claims they are a threat to the stability of the Western-allied Gulf Arab state, where the US Fifth Fleet is based.
The eight Bahraini citizens were deported after an appeals court upheld a 2012 lower court ruling that stripped nine people of citizenship and ordered them deported, the rights group said.
Two brothers were deported on Jan. 29 and two others were deported the following day. A man, his wife and his two brothers were deported on Feb. 1, the group said. The ninth person was abroad when the sentence was passed.
Bahraini officials did not respond to a request for comment.
A total of 578 people have been stripped of citizenship since the kingdom began using the punishment against people convicted of security offences, the rights group said.
A Bahraini court stripped a total of 72 people of citizenship in two separate cases on Jan. 31 and Feb. 1 after they were convicted on alleged terrorism charges.
"Bahraini authorities have dropped all pretense of pluralism and tolerance for dissent and are clearly stripping away the citizenships of people whom they find undesirable," said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at HRW.
The Interior Ministry uses amendments to the 1963 Citizenship Act to revoke the citizenship of individuals it sees as damaging state security, the group said.
Meanwhile, Bahrain's Supreme Court confirmed a decision to revoke the citizenship of the Bahraini spiritual leader Ayatollah Sheikh Isa Qassim, HRW said in the statement. It also upheld a one-year prison sentence against him.
Source: News Agencies, Edited by website team