The plight of stateless people called 'bedoun' in Bahrain continues to attract the attention of the local media.

The latest in this series is the plight of a family of six – an Iranian father, Bahraini mother and their four children – highlighted this week by columnist Sawsan Al Shair who pointed out that this family has been punished for a crime they have not committed though their sense of belonging to Bahrain is unquestionable.

Sawsan pointed out that the plight of this family is similar to the cases of many such families.

But this family's suffering continues unabated while the sufferings of many other such families were brought to an end when the Emir His Highness Sheikh Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa decided to tackle the problem of the stateless.

Speaking of this family Sawsan stated that "they are known to all relevant officials and leaderships in the country. They have been contacted and almost all of them voiced their sympathy especially as the four children are known for their outstanding academic performance for which they were honoured more than once."

She said the four children were born, brought up and educated in Bahrain. But they are often pursued here as their papers are incomplete and falling under the category of stateless people.

"Thus their agony continues despite the directives made by the (political) leadership to end the suffering of bedoun families."

During the 20 years period between 1980 and 2001 they made thirty two visits to the immigration and passports department.

"They are not naturalised because their father was Iranian. I know many people who have been naturalised though they applied for citizenship only a few years ago and they lack academic qualifications.

"In many other cases people have been naturalised even though their parents were not Bahrainis. But in this case the mother of these four children is a Bahraini citizen. There are also cases when many whose fathers were Iranians were naturalised showing that these four children were not exceptions."

"Those who know this family have expressed deep regret as some government officials pay greater attention to those who do not deserve while not paying the same attention in the case of those who deserve," stated Sawsan who pointed out that the father of these four children went to Iran six years ago but could not return as he could not renew his residence permit on time.

Family members applied for a tourist visa to enable him to visit them, but their application was turned down.

In her column Sawsan said: "The plight of this family needs immediate solution to avoid contradiction between the reform process undertaken by the Emir His Highness Sheikh Hamad and obscure conditions like this. Their names were withheld as their case is known to all relevant government officials".