University students are being subjected to arrests and expulsions for merely expressing their political opinions

6 June 2011

The Bahrain Center for Human Rights has sent out an appeal to the Human Rights and Academics Rights organizations regarding the crackdown on the university students in Bahrain and the growing violations to their rights including right to education and freedom of expression.

Education is a right that has been reserved, protected and promoted by the United Nations. The Universal Declaration for Human Rights states, “Education shall be directed to the full development of the human personality and to the strengthening of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms. It shall promote understanding, tolerance and friendship among all nations, racial or religious groups, and shall further the activities of the United Nations for the maintenance of peace” - Article 26 (B).

However, as we write this letter, students in Bahrain are being deprived of this universal right. University students are being subjected to arrests and expulsions for merely expressing their political opinions. As you may know, on February 14, Bahraini youth started a peaceful uprising calling for political reforms, freedom of speech and expression and the right to decide their own future.

The reaction to this peaceful revolution was very violent with a series of crackdowns on protesters, especially university students. Not only was their right to education violated but it also put both their lives and futures at risk.

The brutal and inhumane crackdown started on March 13th in the University of Bahrain’s campus, where government-sponsored thugs supported by security forces terrorized and attacked students. There were four serious cases of injury and about eighty to one hundred students were transferred to the hospital due to suffocation caused by tear gas.

The brutality of the regime continued and escalated after martial law was declared in Bahrain through a series of systematic actions which demonstrated a clear violation of Human Rights. More than 160 allegations have been received by the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights from Bahraini students who study in both local universities and abroad. The cases of violations that have been reported to BCHR are as follows:

(1) Dismissal of University students: The government has dismissed more than 160 students from 4 different universities in Bahrain, 95% are from the University of Bahrain. 44% of these students are academically excellent, with GPAs 3 and above. It’s believed that the number of the dismissed students is more than this as the University of Bahrain alone has announced that it has expelled 200 students.

(2) Arrest of Students: 78 students have been arrested in total, where 2 are confirmed to have been arrested from their homes. Their homes have been raided, vandalized and their families terrorized. Students who have no political activity have also been subjected to arrests because of their religious background which the government sees as synonymous to the opposition.

(3) Revoking Scholarships: Bahraini students studying abroad were not excluded from the injustices their fellow citizens were targeted with. Their scholarships have been revoked because they participated in protests calling for democracy in Bahrain; a majority of those studying in British universities. At least 100 scholarships been provoked according to the official statements.

(4) Withdrawals from UOB: After the University of Bahrain resumed classes on May 2, the university put measures in place which altered the peaceful learning environment into a hostile one. They forced students to sign a loyalty pledge to the government in order for them to continue studying in the university. Students have had to go through checkpoints where they are targeted and humiliated. Buildings on campus are also surrounded with barbed wires, making the environment a politicized and hostile one. All this has lead to hundreds of students withdrawing from the university. (500 withdrawals recorded until 25 May 2011)

Therefore, on behalf of the university students in Bahrain, the BCHR urges you to use your global podium to take urgent and forceful actions to put an end to the Human Rights violations against students in Bahrain, in order for them to have the right to education, as well as freedom of speech and expression. Your actions and stand will make all the difference in the lives of youth in Bahrain.

Validations, reports and references

Elaboration with Reference on Violations of Human Rights in the University of Bahrain

March 13, the day of attack on the University of Bahrain students

(1) The day of attack on the University of Bahrain by the government thugs (March 13) Students were attacked in the University of Bahrain, Sakheer campus by the government thugs who held clubs and sticks for no reason but voicing their opinion and demanding political reforms.

(2) Local Media (Al Wasat Newspaper)

“Sayed Shubber Sayed Ali is one of the injured that has been transferred to the hospital on March 13, he was in the University of Bahrain when he was attacked on the head which led to fracture in his skull”

“Although there has not be any official statement on the number of injured in the University incident, however, Salmaniya Medical Complex received 4 injured whose injuries caused by swords, 2 of them are in critical condition in the ICU”

“Eye witness said that because of the attack on the protesters in the pearl roundabout, the students went out in a peaceful protest in solidarity with their brothers and sisters who were being attacked, when they were attacked all of a sudden by men holding clubs, sticks and swords. Police and security were backing up the men who were attacking the protesters rather than helping the students”

“Al Wefaq (Political Society with representations in the Parliament) said that there were 9 cases of disappearance, on March 13, majority from University of Bahrain.

Hamad Jasim Kanoo Health center, in Hamad town, received 80 to 100 wounded from the incident in the University of Bahrain; because of the number of the cases which caused a chaos amongst the medical staff, half of the cases that were transferred to the hospital were not registered. Majority of injuries were suffocation by the tear gas and at least 2 injuries by shotguns.

(3) International media (CNN)

“University students protesting against the government at Bahrain University Sunday, eyewitnesses said. The government denied that unjustified force was used.”

(4) Videos of the attack

Footage shows the students in one of the universities building screaming after being attacked by the government’s thug

A student in his way to the university, recording the thugs (in white dress as the protesters do not wear white dress) holding sticks, then his car has been shot at by a policeman as he is explaining which broke the window

Pictures explaining how the thugs came in the university without being stopped by the policemen who were standing far and not interfering to stop the attack on students

After the Declaration of Martial law

(1) Dismissal of university students

“Following the regretful incidents that happened last March 13, the University of Bahrain (UoB) has dismissed 200 students, academicians, admins, employees and security guards so far, announced the UoB President Dr. Ebrahim Mohammed Janahi, adding that the damage caused those incidents reached BD 350,000.”

University of Bahrain investigated with a number of students, they were confronted with photos and some of what they have posted on social networking sites. After the investigation a number of students were dismissed from the university.

(2) Based on the report collected by BCHR:

a) Expelled Students: At least 166 students have been dismissed from the university (Students from University of Bahrain, Polytechnic, Arabian Gulf University and Nursing College) b) Majority from University of Bahrain: 95% of the students who have been dismissed are from the University of Bahrain c) Not involved in anyways in 13 March incident: 44.97% from Isa Town campus which is located around 1 hour away from Sakheer campus where the incident of attack has happened, therefore, they cannot even be accused of the unjustified allegation that they have caused this incident. d) Excellent Academically: Students who were expelled are excellent academically of an average GPA of 2.85 and 44% with GPA 3 to 4 points

(3) Arrests of Students:

Students have been targeted from the first days of Bahrain’s uprising; Ali Al Muoman is a university of Bahrain student, one of the martyrs, was among the firsts to be killed by the Bahraini’s regime. The targeting continued by a series of arrests:

(a) Total numbers of arrests: reported cases shows that around 78 students are among the detainees, 78% males and 22% females. List of arrested students

(b) Raiding their homes: at least 25% of the students were arrested from their homes after raiding it. Ahmed Saeed Al Noaimi is a student that his home was raided, according to his brother, as he was in Kuwait, below are photos from his house after being raided for the second time looking for him:

(c) Arrests from Universities: so far 2 cases have been reported of students being arrested from the university. Maitham Abdulla Hasan is a student in polytechnic majoring in engineering, on May 19, as his relative reported, Maitham disappeared, when asked his friends; they informed him that he was called for investigation by the university at 11am and they did not see him ever since even his car was not in the university. His family kept searching for him in police station when they came across another family that was looking for their daughter who happened to be a student in the same university. They have been told that he is detained but with no further information. The next day his professor called asking about Maitham and whether he came back or not, “that’s when they found out that he was arrested from the university” his relative says.

(4) Revoking scholarships:

Bahrain regime accused of harassing UK-based students

Exclusive: Bahraini students hounded in Britain

The head of the university in a statement said that a number of students on overseas scholarships from the University of Bahrain to gain further advanced degrees might be subjected to deprivation of their scholarships because of their participations on the internet.

At least 100 scholarships were provoked according to official statement

A university student, Noor, studying in the UK, said she doesn't know how to pay her rent and studying costs after the withdrawal of her scholarship. She has thought of returning to Bahrain, but it is dangerous and she can be arrested for having participated in protests against the regime's violence, in front of the Bahraini Embassy in London. Video:

(5) Students withdrawal

University of Bahrain resumed study on May 2, however, it put measures, both security and loyalty, in place which altered the peaceful learning environment to a hostile environment which led hundreds of student to withdraw from the university. At least 500 withdrawal was recorded by 25 May 2011.

Student told Al Jazeera net that all gates to the university of Bahrain have been closed but one which causes traffic and students being late to their classes. Another student says that the university’s target are the opposition student which “makes me live in humiliation [] that I cannot live with” Fatima said that her reason for withdrawing from the university was the checkpoints that are distributed everywhere in the university.

The university forced the students to sign “Loyalty Pledge” declaring their loyalty to the leadership of Bahrain and restricting their participation in university activities specially of activities of political nature.

Loyalty Pledge: (Arabic & English)

Copy of Dismissal letter (number 267 for the year 2011, with a logo of Bahrain vision 2030)

Kindly do not hesitate to contact BCHR for more details