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

Afghan Government: Taliban Leader Mullah Omar Died in 2013

update President Ashraf Ghani's office confirms reclusive Taliban leader died in 2013, but Taliban itself claim Omar is still alive More

Erdogan in China Amid Tensions on Uighurs, Missile System

Turkey's president has criticized China's heavy-handed policies toward Uighurs in violence-plagued Xinjiang region, where China says it is fighting foreign-backed separatists More

Critics: China’s President Using Law to Tighten Grip on Power

President Xi, who has stressed importance of 'rule of law' and law-based governance, has exerted increasingly tighter grip over society since coming to office 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.
Russia Accused of Abusing Interpol to Pursue Opponentsi
X
Henry Ridgwell
July 28, 2015 9:53 PM
A British pro-democracy group has accused Russia of abusing the global law enforcement agency Interpol by requesting the arrest and extradition of political opponents. A new report by the group notes such requests can mean the accused are unable to travel and are often unable to open bank accounts. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Russia Accused of Abusing Interpol to Pursue Opponents

A British pro-democracy group has accused Russia of abusing the global law enforcement agency Interpol by requesting the arrest and extradition of political opponents. A new report by the group notes such requests can mean the accused are unable to travel and are often unable to open bank accounts. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Genome Initiative Urgently Moves to Freeze DNA Before Species Go Extinct

Earth is in the midst of its sixth mass extinction. The last such event was caused by an asteroid 66 million years ago. It killed off the dinosaurs and practically everything else. So scientists are in a race against time to classify the estimated 11 million species alive today. So far only 2 million are described by science, and researchers are worried many will disappear before they even have a name. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Scientists: One-Dose Malaria Cure is Possible

Scientists have long been trying to develop an effective protection and cure for malaria - one of the deadliest diseases that affects people in tropical areas, especially children. As the World Health Organization announces plans to begin clinical trials of a promising new vaccine, scientists in South Africa report that they too are at an important threshold. George Putic reports, they are testing a compound that could be a single-dose cure for malaria.
Video

Video Special Olympics Athletes Meet International Friends

The Special Olympics are underway in Los Angeles, California, with athletes from 165 countries participating in an event that gives people with intellectual disabilities the chance to take part in an international competition. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports that for athletes and their families, it's also an opportunity to make new friends in an international setting.
Video

Video 'New York' Magazine Features 35 Cosby Accusers

The latest issue of 'New York' magazine features 35 women who say they were drugged and raped by film and television celebrity Bill Cosby. The women are aged from 44 to 80 and come from different walks of life and races. The magazine interviewed each of them separately, but Zlatica Hoke reports their stories are similar.
Video

Video US Calls Fight Against Human Trafficking a Must Win

The United States is promising not to give up its fight against what Secretary of State John Kerry calls the “scourge” of modern slavery. Officials released the country’s annual human trafficking report Monday – a report that’s being met with some criticism. VOA’s National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more from the State Department.
Video

Video Iran Nuclear Pact Wins Few New US Congressional Backers

Later this week, President Barack Obama returns from a trip to Africa to confront a U.S. Congress roiled by the nuclear accord with Iran, an agreement that has received the blessing of the U.N. Security Council. Days of intensive lobbying and testimony by top administration officials have won few new congressional supporters of the pact. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports.
Video

Video Washington DC Underground Streetcar Station to Become Arts Venue

Abandoned more than 50 years ago, the underground streetcar station in Washington D.C.’s historic DuPont Circle district is about to be reborn. The plan calls for turning the spacious underground platforms - once meant to be a transportation hub, - into a unique space for art exhibitions, presentations, concerts and even a film set. Roman Mamonov has more from beneath the streets of the U.S. capital. Joy Wagner narrates his report.
Video

Video Europe’s Twin Crises Collide in Greece as Migrant Numbers Soar

Greece has replaced Italy as the main gateway for migrants into Europe, with more than 100,000 arrivals in the first six months of 2015. Many want to move further into Europe and escape Greece’s economic crisis, but they face widespread dangers on the journey overland through the Balkans. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Stink Intensifies as Lebanon’s Trash Crisis Continues

After the closure of a major rubbish dump a week ago, the streets of Beirut are filling up with trash. Having failed to draw up a plan B, politicians are struggling to deal with the problem. John Owens has more for VOA from Beirut.
Video

Video Paris Rolls Out Blueprint to Fight Climate Change

A U.N. climate conference in December aims to produce an ambitious agreement to fight heat-trapping greenhouse gases. But many local governments are not waiting, and have drafted their own climate action plans. That’s the case with Paris — which is getting special attention, since it’s hosting the climate summit. Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at the transformation of the French capital into an eco-city.
Video

Video Racially Diverse Spider-Man Takes Center Stage

Whether it’s in a comic book or on the big screen, fans have always known the man behind the Spider-Man mask as Peter Parker. But that is changing, at least in the comic book world. Marvel Comics announced that a character called Miles Morales will replace Peter Parker as Spider-Man in a new comic book series. He is half Latino, half African American, and he is quite popular among comic book fans. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports from Los Angeles.
Video

Video Critics of Japan Defense Policy Focus on Okinawa

In Okinawa, many locals have long complained that Tokyo places an unfair burden on the tiny island by locating most of Japan's U.S. military bases there. As Japan's government moves toward strengthening and expanding the country's defense policies, opponents of those plans are joining local protesters in Okinawa, voicing concern about where the country is headed. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from Okinawa.
Video

Video IS Uses Chemical Weapons in Syrian Attack

Islamic State militants have added a new weapon in their arsenal of fear: chemical weapons. VOA Kurdish service reporter Zana Omer was on the scene within hours of a recent attack in Hasakah, Syria, and has details of the subsequent investigation, in this report narrated by Miguel Amaya.
Video

Video Historic Symbol Is Theme of Vibrant New Show

A new exhibit in Washington is paying tribute to the American flag with a wide and eclectic selection of artwork that uses the historic symbol as its central theme. VOA’s Julie Taboh was at the DC Chamber of Commerce for the show’s opening.

VOA Blogs