Bahrain: 8 year-old child suspended from school for chanting political slogans
13 Jan 2013
The Bahrain Center for Human Rights expresses its grave concern over the suspension of an 8 year-old boy and the alleged beating he endured under his school administration due to political reasons. The suspension was enforced in accordance with the elementary school’s code of conduct set by the Ministry of Education in Bahrain, which violated both the rights of the child and the right to his freedom of expression. On 8 January 2013, Hesham Hasan, 8 years old, and a student at Alalaa Al-Hadhrami school was allegedly beaten for chanting political slogans. The school, headed by Mrs. Hiya AlFadhala, decided to suspend him for 10 day. Those 10 days also coincided with his final exams. The school launched an investigation committee and interrogated the child without the presence of his parents. In addition to the interrogation, Hesham was beaten in front of his peers, causing him psychological harm.
In response, the Ministry of Education stated the following: “The Ministry suspended a second grade student in elementary school for chanting a political slogan which is considered a violation of the school’s code of conduct and the system in place in schools.” . They added that the Ministry will further investigate the beating and take appropriate measures. The discipline and treatment of Hesham for political reasons exemplifies the Bahraini authorities’ violation of freedom of expression and the rights of the child. Bahrain is the Vice-President of the UNESCO International Bureau of Education (IBE) since Jan 2012.
The BCHR believes that Hesham’s suspension is a serious indication of the Bahraini authorities’ violations of freedom of expression and the rights of the child. Their policies and regulations are in direct violation of articles 14 and 28, which respectively state that “States Parties shall respect the right of the child to freedom of thought, conscience and religion;” and “States Parties shall take all appropriate measures to ensure that school discipline is administered in a manner consistent with the child's human dignity and in conformity with the present Convention.” The BCHR has documented dozens of violations against children by the authorities, many children as young as 13, who are or were imprisoned for up to months. Others were subjected to torture and recently, children between the ages of 6 to 16 years old were terrorized while held in a police station when security forces stopped their school bus for political reasons. These violations are in addition to the daily house raids and extensive use of force that have both mental and physical impacts. (Read More: Bahrain: 13 year old children in detention for third week and others on trial under “terrorism law” and Bahrain: 15 Years old children detained for over 2 months without a trial)
The BCHR calls on the United States, the United Kingdom, the UN and all other allies and international institutions to put pressure on the Government of Bahrain to immediately:
- Allow Hesham Hasan to return to his school. - Conduct a prompt and independent investigation in all cases of violations against children. - To ensure that children be held in detention separate from adults, and treated according to the juvenile judicial system. - To pressure the Bahraini government to abide by the laws of the International Convention for the Rights of the Child.