End the violations against students and educators in Bahrain
Over the past few months, the Bahraini regime has committed many violations against students and educators as a form of retribution to their participation and support of the pro-democracy movement. Since the declaration of a state of emergency in March, the authorities have conducted pre-dawn raids on the homes of many students and teachers, detaining some for months with no trial and depriving their families of any knowledge of their whereabouts. According to BCHR estimates, the authorities have arrested 78 students and more than 100 teachers although numbers are believed to be higher. Today tens of students and teachers are still in detention and/or are awaiting trials. Teachers unionists have been sentenced to up to 10 years’ imprisonment and more than 7 students to minimum of 15 years’ imprisonment.
More than 500 university students have been expelled for political reasons since March. In August, the King of Bahrain ordered all students to be reinstated, however the University of Bahrain (UOB) and the Bahrain Polytechnic refused to allow more than 70 students back to their studies, putting their futures at risk. Students were subjected to aggressive interrogations where they were accused of going to the Pearl Roundabout, taking part in pro-democracy protests, and posting anti-government posts on their Facebook and Twitter pages, in a violation of their privacy and basic rights.
Despite clear violations, the universities have failed to reinstate some students, referring around 10 students to the public prosecutor which summoned them for investigation in a police station. This raises concerns over the students' security as they could get arrested any time and face trials, especially since some students are currently awaiting military trials with more than 10 students in detention who have been subjected to torture. Recently 7 students accused with false charges of attempted murder, arson among other charges, in regards to the March 16 government-sponsored thug attack on UOB, have been sentenced to 15-18 years in detention.
University staff and faculty:
According to the cases submitted to BCHR, UOB has dismissed 117 of its faculty and staff, putting them through an investigation committee which questioned their activity outside university campus in a violation of their academic freedom. It also referred their cases to the security forces which raided their homes and interrogated them for hours while blindfolded and handcuffed, as well as subjecting their families to harassment and threats. They were detained for days and some still remain in detention. UOB has also dismissed and revoked the scholarships of its faculty who were pursuing their higher education abroad without even putting them through the official Interrogation Committee.
School students, Teachers and Teacher unionists
The Ministry of Education has subjected teachers to arrests from their homes and work places, as they were taken from schools alongside students to police stations where they were brutally beaten and subjected to physical and psychological torture. Teachers have also been put through an illegitimate investigation committee which resulted in salary cuts, suspensions, and dismissals. The Ministry has further carried out an attack on the Bahrain Teachers Association which acted as a teachers union following Act 1 from 2003 of the Civil Service Bureau which stated that unions are not to be formed within governmental institutions. The President of the teachers union Mahdi AbuDeeb, has been condemned 10 years in detention while the vice-president Jaleela Al-Salman has been condemned 3 years.
Many teachers are currently awaiting trial while dozens have been sacked only to be replaced by unqualified volunteers. This is resulting in the deterioration of the quality of education in Bahrain as the volunteers are high school graduates with no background in teaching whatsoever. The educational environment in schools is of high risk for both students and teachers who have been attacked by riot police and are constantly being attacked by the pro-government administration.
Students and teachers in Bahrain continue to face harassment and discrimination in retaliation to their support for the pro-democracy movement.
TAKE ACTION NOW to save the future of expelled students, reinstate sacked teachers and university faculty, and put an end to the violations against them in Bahrain.
Students and educators have been accused of calling for and practicing violence. However there is no evidence to prove that, as their only crime is exercising their rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly. All penalties against them are for criticizing the Bahraini regime, calling for democracy and demanding political reform.
I am appealing to you to put pressure on the government of Bahrain and the Minister of Education to take action for the immediate and unconditional release of all students and educators detained for exercising their rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly. I call for you to promptly help set up a full, independent and impartial investigation into all allegations of torture and other mistreatment the detainees have been subjected to, announcing the findings publicly and ensuring that all those responsible for such acts are brought to justice.
I urge you to take action to:
- Immediately release all detained students and educators in Bahrain
- End all military trials for teachers and students
- Drop all charges against teacher unionists, educators and students as well as revoking their sentences
- Reinstate all expelled students to their universities immediately
- Return all sacked teachers, university staff and faculty
- Ensure the safety of educational institutes for both students and educators
I appeal to you to take urgent action to stop these violations against students and educators in Bahrain. I look forward to hearing about your contribution to bringing justice to those who are deprived of it.