News / Middle East

Bahraini Students Uncertain Over Future

Riot police fire tear gas in Sitra, Bahrain, September 16, 2011.
Riot police fire tear gas in Sitra, Bahrain, September 16, 2011.

Universities across Bahrain have opened for the new academic year, but a number of students who support the nation’s pro-democracy movement say various obstacles are preventing them from entering the classroom.

Roughly 400 students from different universities were expelled for participating in “unauthorized protests” after widespread civil unrest broke out in Bahrain in February.

In a gesture of reconciliation, King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa announced last month that those who had been dismissed should be allowed to resume their studies. However, scores of young Bahrainis have yet to be reinstated.

At Bahrain Polytechnic, 31 expelled undergraduates are still waiting to return to class, including a second-year student who asked to be identified only as T.A. “We’re fighting for our future. We need to create our future,” he said.

In an initial statement, Bahrain Polytechnic said that in accordance with the law, it had disciplined those who had “offended the political leaders of the kingdom,” even though all of the illegal activities took place off campus.

Some of T.A.’s peers were punished for simply posting information criticizing the government on social media sites.  He says the king’s speech added to their frustration. “The way he said that we are forgiven. We are forgiven for our mistakes, but we didn’t do anything wrong. We should return [to studying] no matter what," said T.A.

In defense of the expulsions, Ministry of Education spokeswoman Lubna Selaibekh recently said that those penalized were aware of the rules and regulations in place.

She also pointed out that students were given ample time to defend their behavior before action was taken against them.

Rights groups, however, have repeatedly criticized actions by the authorities.

Wrongful dismissal

Sa'id Boumedouha from Amnesty International says many university staff, including lecturers, have been wrongly dismissed. “They’re being unfairly treated, and for what? For taking part in peaceful demonstrations. It is a concern for us,” said Boumedouha.

Like in most regional uprisings, young people in Bahrain have played a pivotal role in encouraging the public to protest.

Now, in a move to dissuade the youth from future displays of discontent, the government is making returning students promise to abstain from political activities in order to re-enroll.

Code of conduct

The code of conduct agreement at the University of Bahrain requires signees to pledge their “complete loyalty” to the king.

A number of students, including a female at UOB who wished to remain anonymous, have opted out of the agreement, saying it is more important for them to participate in the pro-democracy movement than continue studying.

“If the movement stops, everything will be back to zero. Not to zero, to negative,” she said.

Shi’ite Muslims make up the majority of Bahrain’s opposition supporters and say they are treated like second-class citizens by the ruling Sunni minority. They have been calling for more rights and for the introduction of a constitutional monarchy.

The government has accused the protesters of taking directions from Shi’ite powerhouse Iran, a claim the protesters deny.

'Increasing segregation'

In addition to the expelled students, the Bahrain Center for Human Rights says about 2,500 mostly Shi’ite employees have been fired from their jobs in various sectors because of their political views.

The group’s president, Nabeel Rajab, says the nation is becoming increasingly segregated.

“This is part of sectarian cleansing that the government is practicing against the Shi’ite people in all levels - their living, businesses, studies, education, everywhere. They are working on marginalizing the Shi’ite in all decision-making place[s]. So they don’t want to see more graduated people from the Shi’ite community,” said Rajab.

Some Shi’ites who were not expelled from university have withdrawn themselves, citing a politicized and hostile campus environment.

A third-year student at UOB, who asked to have his identity kept secret, says the current climate makes it difficult for many young Shi’ites to plan for the future. “Protesting is our future, we have to finish what we started and then we can study, we can work, we can do anything,” he said.

In July, the government opened a national dialogue in a bid to restore confidence in the kingdom’s commitment to work out its troubles. However, the main opposition al-Wefaq party quit the talks, saying its demands had been ignored.

Rights groups say more than 40 people have been killed since protesting began over seven months ago.  More than 1,000 protesters have been arrested.  Six university students remain in custody.

Both the Ministry of Education and Bahrain Polytechnic could not be reached for comments despite repeated attempts.

Follow our Middle East reports on Twitter
and discuss them on our Facebook page.

You May Like

Photogallery Pistorius Sentenced, Taken to Prison

Pistorius, convicted of culpable homicide in shooting death of girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, will likely serve about 10 months of five-year sentence, before completing it under house arrest More

UN to Aid Central Africa in Polio Vaccinations

Synchronized vaccinations will be conducted after Cameroon reports a fifth case of the wild polio virus in its territory More

WHO: Ebola Vaccine May Be in Use by Jan.

WHO assistant director Dr. Marie Paule Kieny says clinical trials of Ebola vaccines are underway or planned in Europe, US and Africa More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rulesi
X
October 21, 2014 12:20 AM
European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.
Video

Video Young Nairobi Tech Innovator on 'Track' in Security Business

A 24-year-old technology innovator in Nairobi has invented a tracking device that monitors and secures cars. He has also come up with what he claims is the most robust audio-visual surveillance system yet. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from the Kenyan capital, his innovations are offering alternative security solutions.
Video

Video Latinas Converting to Islam for Identity, Structure

Latinos are one of the fastest growing groups in the Muslim religion. According to the Pew Research Center, about 6 percent of American Muslims are Latino. And a little more than half of new converts are female. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti travelled to Miami, Florida -- where two out of every three residents is Hispanic -- to learn more.
Video

Video Exclusive: American Joins Kurds' Anti-IS Fight

The United States and other Western nations have expressed alarm about their citizens joining Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq. In a rare counterpoint to the phenomenon, an American has taken up arms with the militants' Syrian Kurdish opponents. Elizabeth Arrott has more in this exclusive profile by VOA Kurdish reporter Zana Omer in Ras al Ayn, Syria.
Video

Video South Korea Confronts Violence Within Military Ranks

Every able-bodied South Korean male between 18 and 35 must serve for 21 to 36 months in the country’s armed forces, depending upon the specific branch. For many, service is a rite of passage to manhood. But there are growing concerns that bullying and violence come along with the tradition. Reporter Jason Strother has more from Seoul.
Video

Video North Carolina Emerges as Key Election Battleground

U.S. congressional midterm elections will be held on November 4th and most political analysts give Republicans an excellent chance to win a majority in the U.S. Senate, which Democrats now control. So what are the issues driving voters in this congressional election year? VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone traveled to North Carolina, one of the most politically competitive states in the country, to find out.
Video

Video Comanche People Maintain Pride in Their Heritage

The Comanche (Indian nation) once were called the “Lords of the Plains,” with an empire that included half the land area of current day Texas, large parts of Oklahoma, New Mexico, Kansas and Colorado.The fierceness and battle prowess of these warriors on horseback delayed the settlement of most of West Texas for four decades. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Lawton, Oklahoma, that while their warrior days are over, the 15,000 members of the Comanche Nation remain a proud people.
Video

Video Turkey Campus Attacks Raise Islamic Radicalization Fears

Concerns are growing in Turkey of Islamic radicalization at some universities, after clashes between supporters of the jihadist group Islamic State (IS) or ISIS, and those opposed to the extremists. Pro-jihadist literature is on sale openly on the streets of Istanbul. Critics accuse the government of turning a blind eye to radicalism at home, while Kurds accuse the president of supporting IS - a charge strongly denied. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

All About America

AppleAndroid