Thu Jun 15, 2017 04:01PM
This file photo shows a view of the High Criminal Court in Manama, Bahrain.
This file photo shows a view of the High Criminal Court in Manama, Bahrain.

A court in Bahrain has handed down lengthy sentences to more than two dozen anti-regime activists and revoked their citizenship as the ruling Al Khalifah family continues with its oppressive measures against political dissidents in the tiny Persian Gulf kingdom.

On Thursday, a judge handed down 18 defendants life sentences, while the other eight received 15 years in jail, state-aligned media reported.

Sources say that the convicted activists belonged to a group called Diraz Youth and had been charged with spreading unrest across the region.

The northwestern village of Diraz is the hometown of prominent Shia cleric Sheikh Isa Qassim, who has been stripped of his citizenship and received a 1-year suspended prison sentence.

In recent weeks, the Manama regime has stepped up crackdown on political dissent in the wake of US President Donald Trump's meeting with Bahraini monarch King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifah during a summit in the Saudi capital city of Riyadh last month.

Less than 48 hours after the US president left Saudi Arabia, Bahraini regime troops attacked supporters of Sheikh Qassim in Diraz, killing at least five people and arresting 286 others. Reports said 19 policemen were also injured in the clashes.

This photo shows Bahraini anti-regime protesters in Diraz, the hometown of prominent Shia cleric Sheikh Isa Qassim, on May 22, 2017.

On March 5, Bahrain’s parliament approved the trial of civilians at military tribunals in a measure blasted by human rights campaigners as being tantamount to imposition of an undeclared martial law countrywide.   

King Hamad ratified the constitutional amendment on April 3.

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 Al Khalifah dynasty 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. On March 14, 2011, troops from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates were deployed to assist Bahrain in its crackdown.

Scores of people have lost their lives and hundreds of others sustained injuries or got arrested as a result of the Al Khalifah regime’s crackdown.