Manama: Bahrain’s King Hamad Bin Eissa Al Khalifa has issued new decrees, giving authorities more powers to strip citizenship and block suspected funding channels in attempts to quell escalating anti-government violence in the Gulf nation.
The measures are part of wider planned crackdowns unveiled earlier this week. They seek to battle a nearly 30-month uprising by the opposition demanding a greater political voice in the nation.
Shiite groups have denounced the steps, which also may include a ban on all protests in the capital, Manama.
The decrees by King Hamad were reported Thursday by the official Bahrain News Agency. They give authorities wider ability to revoke citizenship for “terror” acts and halt funding for groups suspected of backing attacks.
At an extraordinary session of parliament on Sunday, lawmakers agreed to recommendations including stripping those who commit or call for “terrorist crimes” of their nationality and preventing any protests in the capital Manama.
The amendments prescribe a jail sentence of not less than 10 years on “anyone who carries out a bombing ... or attempts to carry out a bombing for terrorism purposes”.
The penalty increases to death or life imprisonment if the bombing results in any death or injury, while anyone who puts or carries anything that resembles explosives or firecrackers in public places will receive prison terms.
“Perpetrators of dangerous terror crimes” can also have their citizenship revoked, the amendments say.
For those convicted of collecting money for a “terrorism purpose”, the sentence is life imprisonment or a minimum 10-year sentence, in addition to a fine of 100,000 to 500,000 dinars ($265,300 to $1.33 million), the state news agency said.
Meanwhile, a rights activist in Bahrain says authorities have arrested a prominent blogger just days after warning of harsher measures against anti-government protesters in the violence-wracked Gulf kingdom.
Bahrain’s king earlier this week endorsed parliamentary calls to ban demonstrations in the capital Manama and impose tough punishments such as stripping citizenship for those convicted of violence. Security forces also have warned of a strong response to plans for major protest marches August 14.
Yousef Al Muhafedha, acting president of the Bahrain Human Rights Centre, says blogger Mohammad Hassan was arrested early Wednesday. Hassan also worked as an assistant to various foreign journalists visiting Bahrain.
Bahrain has been gripped by near nonstop unrest since February 2011 when majority Shiites began an uprising for a greater political voice in the nation.