It is as the ruling Ale Khalifah regime presses ahead with its heavy-handed crackdown on political dissent and pro-democracy campaigners in the tiny Persian Gulf sheikhdom.
The New York-based organization said on Sunday that the eight were sent to Iraq’s southern holy city of Najaf after authorities revoked their nationality in 2012.
“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,” HRW Middle East director Sarah Leah Whitson said.
She added, “Bahrainis who dare speak out for change now risk not only arbitrary detention and torture but statelessness and deportation to an uncertain future.”
Bahraini officials, under citizenship law amended following popular uprising in February 2011, strip individuals who engage in acts deemed “disloyal” to Ale Khalifah regime of their nationality.
Human Rights Watch noted that the eight deportees were among 31 Bahraini activists and human rights lawyers whose citizenship was revoked in November 2012. Only five of those 31 defendants had dual citizenship, meaning that the majority of them are now stateless, the organization said in a statement.
“Bahrain should immediately put an end to these arbitrary deportations and restore citizenship to those who have been left stateless or whose citizenship was revoked unfairly or arbitrarily,” it pointed out.
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 Ale 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.