According to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights: Article 26: “Everyone has a right to Education”. On the basis of this article, this report clarifies clear and flagrant violation of the above-mentioned article. The events after 14th February 2014 in Bahrain have led to a lot of abuses that all citizens, without exception, have suffered. Students have had a share that cannot be bypassed, especially those who are in the age group between 15-18 years old and are the main building block in the construction of the foundations of development and progress.
When forms of violations vary starting with raids of homes after midnight and in the public streets, or while exercising the right of expression peacefully that is also a guaranteed right stated clearly in Article 19 of the Human Rights document, which states: Everyone has a right to freedom of opinion and expression. However, due to the arrests from school or university campus, it was necessary that the law protects this right and other rights guaranteed by the Universal Law of Human Rights.
(Arab Spring) is the general title, and the most comprehensive for the Arab popular movement that started in Tunisia early 2011. A number of Arab countries participated in this movement and the Kingdom of Bahrain was one of these countries. Because the movement for demands is principally from people, it has gained mastery over the public demands guaranteed by the universal principles of human rights. A few of its models are: equality in dignity and rights, the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion, participation in the management of country’s public affairs, the right to a good standard of living, and so on. As the students of Bahrain are members of this community, their participation was self-evident and in line with the nature of the rights and national vision of the Kingdom of Bahrain and its constitution, which is not disputable by legal, human rights or Islamic legislator. The movement began and was confronted brutally by the Bahrain authorities and that has claimed the lives of dozens under the flames and lashes of torture. Those who participated in peaceful protests or general strikes that are guaranteed by international law and the constitution were not safe from the authorities’ oppression. All segments of society and its classes had their share of various types of punishment and revenge, and one of the most important categories is students and teachers.
With the intensification of repression and the severity of the situation, especially when the authorities use armed militias in the attacks on educational institutions starting with Saar Girls Secondary School to attack by armed civilians on the University of Bahrain, the suppression of peaceful assembly at the Pearl Roundabout and declaration of state of emergency by the army and GCC armed forces a new chapter of flagrant violations has begun, which will be highlighted in this report and its psychological and social impact on the student in Bahrain.
First: Violations against the students: Numerous violations of human rights that took place against the Bahraini student by the authority have been monitored. Their pace has systematically increased after 14th February, 2011 along with the launch of the political movement, the sit-in at Pearl Roundabout and the break-up of this sit-in with using various armed forces like police, national guard and army reinforced by the intervention of the Aljazira Shield forces. The most important ones are:
- Arrest of students: Dozens of students were arrested from universities and schools especially student leaders who had influence and evident political or human rights activity. The arrests were clearly against domestic and international law because they were not supported by a warrant. Additionally, most of the arrests took place after midnight using weapons during the attack on houses at night terrorizing al residents without considering the least sanctity at the house or at the time of storming the schools and arresting the students.
- Tattling has played a major role, especially exploitation of opportunists’ grudges against their classmates at school or those who worked at school as colleagues or staff or specialists in the Ministry of Education. This was done by publishing their photos on websites using red circles around the face of the person, exploiting the media leaded by Bahrain TV, which had a significant role in countless detentions among students.
- Expulsion from studying: After the authority tightened its control and declared state of emergency hundreds of students from schools and universities have been denied their right to receive their grade transcripts. This issue hindered them to complete their education. While charges against students specified that the reason for expulsion is illegal gathering, or participation in demonstrations and sit-ins, these were all done through disciplinary councils. Modifications have been instituted to the school law that criminalizes freedom of expression and compels school principals to expel students conclusively if any student criticized the authorities. It is remarkable that distinctive and outstanding students, especially university students, were the main targets because of their political affiliation, sectarian and religious background that they embrace and is confounded by Article 18 of Universal Declaration of Human Rights which states: Everyone has a right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion.
- Suspension from studying: This was achieved by suspending the students from studying for periods ranging from one week to one full year if the student objected the authority’s policies or participated in the sit-in or rally, or criticized the authority or expressed his political views and human rights demands.
- Intimidation: This was achieved through the continuing threat to students or keeping them in checkpoints to degrade their dignity, subjecting them to curses, insults and beatings, keeping them in the sun for long periods of time, stopping school buses and transferring all students to police stations in addition to transforming the environments of some schools to look like military barracks by placing barriers and fences, and installing security surveillance cameras
- Discrimination in education: is applied to deprive the students of other sects the freedom of learning their religion, and impose an Islamic curriculum for a sect embraced by the authority where Ja’fari ideology is not taught in the majority of schools, even if all of the students were Shiites.
- Discrimination in scholarships: Students are deprived of getting scholarships that they deserve being the result of their superiority and their attainment of the distinction grade of 90%, and laying down subjective standards to distribute scholarships. These standards are based on reliance by 60% on the student’s grades and 40% on personal interview carried out by committees of the Ministry of Education that lacks general objective criteria, transparency and impartiality, and rely in conducting the interviews on interpolation of sectarian and political affairs. Additionally, depriving the student of the scholarship in major studies that he/she desire. Despite the superiority of two students and their ranking in the top twenty in the Kingdom of Bahrain with a grade of 95% they were offered scholarships majoring in porcelain contrary to their desires and expectations, and other cases that were deprived of their chosen specialties and provided financial aid.
- Denial of deserved scholarships: Dozens of students who already received scholarships in previous years were deprived of that and expelled from the study due to participation by some of them in the peaceful protests and on political and sectarian reasons.
- Prevent private sector from providing scholarship: the Ministry of Education approved a series of resolutions that prohibit any party or organization from sending any student (male or female) without their consent, in addition to a set of obstacles preventing students entry to universities especially the Arabian Gulf University of Medicine where an official written consent from the Ministry is a must in order to accept any student in this university.
- Denial of exams at the detention center: Detained students are deprived to sit for examinations as well as denial of education and receiving books, and in case the detained student was permitted to sit for the exam, the atmosphere in which the students present their exams is dominated by intimidation, fear and threat and majority of students either fail or receive very low grades.
- Depriving students of the peaceful expression of their rights: Students were prevented from forming a Students’ Union as well as the prosecution of any students’ activity such as meeting or gathering or rally. Students are penalized with various punishments up to imprisonment, expulsion and deprivation of grades, and the attack on schools using various forces if they organized or participated in any form of protest.
- Attacking and storming schools: By this action the school campus is violated by the attack of security forces, civilian police and armed militias in the event of any protestation activity, and sometimes to intimidate students and prevent them from participating in any anti-government activities. Examples are Alta’awon Boys Secondary School and Al-Jabriyah Boys Technical School.
- Apartheid and sectarianism among students: The authorities, when protests begun in 2011, implemented sectarian and political apartheid at some schools especially those shared between the two major sects in the country. It is witnessed that Bahrain has not a sectarian division at the schools since the start of formal education. Perhaps the people of Bahrain are considerably capable of harmony and co-existence with all communities, though what the education authorities applied of racial segregation between schools and students is obnoxious. After the intensification of official violence, and the participation of schools in peaceful demonstrations – which is common in countries worldwide, as the students are part of the society – haphazard chaos took place by segregated the schools if the number of students exceeded 1500. Officials strongly believed that the large number of students pave the way for demonstration so they built a concrete wall that separates the two buildings with a separate management for each school. Not only that, but they also proceeded to move all Sunni students to other schools although those schools were located far from their areas of residence. This is considered a precedent that is not seen in Bahrain before. Additionally, it is hazardous on the next generation because they will grow up with the notion of sectarianism which is fragmenting of the structure of society. Furthermore the ministry did not hesitate for a moment to ignite the sedition spark and stimulate the idea of sectarianism through Bahrain TV via an interview with the school principal in which she revealed events that are completely different to what happened at the school and then she was promoted to a ministerial position, although she had not completed her first year as principal of the school.
For example: dividing Saar Girls Secondary School to two schools by a wall to become Saar School and Al-Shurooq School. Al-Ahd Al-Zaher Girls Secondary School has undergone a similar procedure as became Al-Ahd Al-Zaher and Al-Tadhamon schools.
Dividing Saar and Al-Ahd Al-Zaher secondary schools to four schools
Al-Wasat Newspaper – Reporter: Ali Al-Mousawi
The Ministry of Education divided Saar Girls Secondary School and Al-Ahd Al-Zaher Girls Secondary School by building walls separating them to become 4 schools with independent administration for each school.
Al-Wasat learned that the new part of Al-Ahd Al-Zaher Girls Secondary School is called Al-Tadhamon Girls Secondary Schools, whereas the other part of Saar Girls Secondary School is called Al-Shurooq Girls Secondary School with a separate entrance from the first school. Sources confirmed that Al-Shurooq Girls Secondary School accommodates students of Commercial and Humanities sections, whereas the students of Scientific section are at Saar School itself, pointing out that the new school (Al-Shurooq) does not have proper facilities and that they took advantage of the space allocated for teachers parking to install a wooden canteen for students. The sources also mentioned that the teachers who are at the school will be distributed on the two schools and the names that will be received from the Ministry of Education directly. The sources said that a meeting was held between the administrations of Saar and Al-Shurooq schools with the teachers. Both administrations were informed that the decision of the distribution of teachers will come from the Ministry, and that no one has the right to object or appeal against the decision. The reason for dividing the two schools into 4 schools and assigning an independent administration for each one is not known.
The schools in Bahrain are not distributed according to sects, but are mixed schools for Sunni and Shiites. The criterion of area of residence is the key factor in student’s admission to a certain school. The deliberate segregation between students on sectarian basis took place after February 2011. Isa Town area has mixture of the two sects (Sunnis and Shiites) and therefore Sheikh Abdullah Secondary School encompasses all, but the ministry cancelled the criterion of residence address on the basis of which the student was accepted, transferred all the Shiite students residing in Shiite areas to Al-Jaberiya Boys Secondary School in the remote city of Manama and deprived them of enrollment at Sheikh Abdullah Secondary School in Isa Town which is very close to their areas.
A field study …
Rehabilitation through education …
The committee responsible for rehabilitation of victims of violence under students’ category relied on the strategy of conducting personal interviews on a general segment within the targeted group. More than one hundred students were abused and the final result showed the extent of harm that the students suffered which is evident in the chart.
EMBED MSGraph.Chart.8 \s
(Switzerland – Bern 23 / March / 2013)
The psychological and behavioral consequences of the violations students suffered and their social impact:
Loss of the overall concept of feeling secure by the student:
- Physical insecurity: Students do not feel safe physically because they are subjected to beating, torture and detention especially with hundreds of students being seriously injured including many who suffer permanent disability as a result of the attacks on schools, suppression of protestation activities and keeping students at checkpoints for long hours. Furthermore, a number of those who were killed during peaceful protests in Bahrain are students and the target group in this report. Examples are: (Martyr Ali Baddah (16 years old) run over by the regime forces – Martyr Ali Al-Sheikh (14 years) – Martyr Ahmad Al-Qattan (16 years) etc.
- Psychological insecurity: Many students do not feel comfortable nor have mental tranquility. The student believes that he/she has become a target of the authority particularly with the storming schools by the police and civilian forces, detention of students (males and females) and teachers in addition to turning the atmosphere in some schools similar to military barracks, surveillance cameras, fences and barriers. Many students left education for this reason and it affected the standard of numerous students.
- Loss of Social Security (15): Social Security is actually the sense of security on self and wealth, and the and lack of fear. It is the recognition by student of his/her existence, integrity and his/her stature in the community. This is what students clearly missed at the schools where they lost assurance on their lives and properties, and this is what forced them to leave school in big numbers. This was very obvious at the University of Bahrain, where more than 400 students (male and female) withdrew from the university due to lack of security in all its forms especially socially.
- Loss of cultural and political security: Students particularly miss the respect of rights to freedom of expression and are fought by the authority because of their religious, cultural and sectarian affiliation. This is reflected on the expulsion of a number of students and depriving them of their fundamental rights.
- Loss of security of the surroundings and the environment: The atmosphere in many schools is no longer suitable for education in as much as it is an atmosphere of barriers, closed doors, chained buildings and surveillance cameras as well as the streets leading to schools. That is what makes the school atmosphere scary and worrisome for the student.
- Dropping out: This is a direct result of the violations which poses a great danger leading the country to blackout and illiteracy after a large number of male and female students preferred to leave school be afraid of kidnapping, imprisonment or murder by the authority or its supporters.
- Unwillingness to education and lack of motivation: Lack of security and tranquility, the feeling of being targeted and the lack of objective criteria by the authority, whether in scholarships, university admissions or employment and which obviously had a negative impact on the students’ motivation towards learning, eliminated the love of learning in many of them, implanted the sense of despair and loss of hope, and a large number believed that academic certificates are worthless, while other criteria relating to religion, sect and political affiliation are more important for a regime that endorses discrimination in dealing with its citizens.
- Insurgency and permanent sense of oppression and targeting: Despite all the rules that cripple students, and target them directly and indirectly many of them decided to defy the rules in general. Due to immaturity of many of the students they defied all rules even the basic regulations of education such as early attendance, absenteeism, lack of respect for teachers and quarreling. Many students are apprehensive against all decisions declared by the school or the Ministry of Education, and sense of targeting has become the forefront of everything and a lot of students feel that they are always oppressed.
- Hostility: This is counterproductive due to maltreatment and diverse violations, where many of the students became hostile in dealing with their colleagues or teachers, and used different types of hostility being verbal or physical.
- Dispersion and poor memory and forgetfulness: This problem was obvious on a number of students especially the children of victims of violence (martyrs) or their relatives, friends and classmates, or some of the students who were subjected to kidnapping, imprisonment and torture. Symptoms of dispersion, permanent distraction, forgetfulness and memory impairment appear on a number of students and the impact is evident on their academic grades and some had been forced to leave school.
- Tension and preoccupation of mind for many events for most of the day: This is due to the fear caused by the violations especially the attack on the school and the collective punishment of the students using the suffocating gas. Symptoms are very clear when checkpoints are placed in areas or public roads, or news of arrests spreads and raids occur in regions of the students in addition to the days that the protestation activities are declared.
- Feeling fatigue, tired and exhausted: Symptoms of such feelings appear on some of the students who suffer from sleep-related problems, especially students who are chased by the security forces.
- Loss of self-confidence and hesitation: This is clearly reflected in many of the students’ carelessness about their moral and humanitarian value and that they are targeted and living in fear and anxiety.
- Frustration and depression: This is an obvious reflection of the discrimination policy especially in cases of scholarships, study choices and employment which are based on religious and political affiliation.
Sense of threat and loss: Many students feel that their presence at schools primarily puts their lives in danger and their freedom. They understand that they are always threatened so they tend to leave education and hence failure and loss.
The report’s recommendations
Paragraph (1723) of the report of Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI) in relation to the students and its recommendations states: « To reinstate all students who have not been criminally charged with an act of violence and to put in place a procedure whereby students who were expelled on legitimate grounds may apply for reinstatement after a reasonable period of time»(17)
With this in mind the Committee’s report concludes with a number of recommendations that would contribute to the reorganization process of teaching-learning in Bahrain to its right path, namely:
- Work to stop all violations against the right of a student in the Kingdom of Bahrain.
- Holding accountable all who had a role directly or indirectly in the occurrence of these violations.
- Reinstate all students suspended from school to their classes.
- Release the arrested students being from schools or universities category.
- Stop verdicts issued against university students and provide moral compensation for their delayed graduation.
- Prepare a rehabilitation plan for all the students who are affected psychologically and physically to return them to their schools.
- Addressing all international institutions and bodies to stop the violations of children rights made against the student in Bahrain.
- Spreading the culture of impartial distribution of scholarships and forming a national commission from all segments of society in order to achieve the principle of equal opportunity and justice.
- Work to lay standards and regulations in line with the international laws that criminalize all violations of human rights in general and child rights in particular.
- Work to stop all forms of discrimination based on political and religious affiliation that the students are subjected to in Bahrain, especially in respect of scholarships and academic disciplines.
The school which got poor rating because of insecurity.
The European – Bahraini Human Rights Organization monitored university students who were sentenced between 6 months and a full year in 2011 on the background of the events of the University of Bahrain, which the country has witnessed on 13th March, 2011, during which the university administration allowed civilians to enter carrying weapons such as knives and trapping students inside the university after they were beaten by the Bahraini regime militias.
Some of the students against whom the verdict was executed:
- Hussein Al-Aradi – verdict: 6 months
- Ali Hayki – verdict: 6 months
- Abdullah Saeed – verdict: 6 months
- Hussein Ali Makki – verdict: 6 months
- Hussein Abdullah Ahmad – verdict: 6 months
EBOHR statement about Mohamed a victim of the human rights violations carried by Bahrain authorities at UOB: 18
3.مقابلة مع والدة أحد معتقلين جامعة البحرين.
Al Jazeera International’s Interview with a Detainee’s Mother on UOB blog 19
- الحكم على طلبة جامعيين بالسجن 15 سنة والمحاكمات مستمرة.
20 Bahrain University students sentenced to 15 years imprisonment and ongoing sham trials
- تقرير هيومن رايتس وتش عن الطلبة والأكادميين المفصولين.
Human Right Watch report about dismissed students and academics21