DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Bahrain’s king on Sunday reinstated the citizenship of 551 people convicted and stripped of their nationality amid a series of mass trials conducted during the island nation’s yearslong crackdown on dissent.
A surprise royal order gave no explanation for King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa’s decision, other than to say that he had the final decision in such cases.
Bahrain, which is home to the U.S. Navy’s 5th Fleet, faces widespread international criticism over its campaign. The Sunni monarchy crushed an Arab Spring uprising in 2011 that was supported by the nation’s Shiite majority. The tiny island off the coast of Saudi Arabia has seen low-level unrest since then, which authorities have blamed on Iran.
“The study and evaluation of the situation of convicts should be based on criteria pertaining to the seriousness, impact and consequences of the crimes, as well as on the danger the convict may pose on national security,” the state-run Bahrain News Agency said in announcing the king’s decision.
Authorities later will announce the names of those having their citizenship restored.
Last week, 138 people lost their citizenship in a mass trial.
The Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy said then that the verdict brought to 990 the number of people ordered stripped of their nationality since 2012.