Wednesday, May 25, 2011

No Academic Freedom in Bahrain

Withdrawal of Hundreds of Students from Bahrain University 
May 24 2011

(English translation provided by Middle East Wire)

The tensions at Bahrain University rose following the withdrawal of hundreds of students from the current trimester in protest against what they referred to as being the increase of the security measures on Campus. This happened following the resumption of the courses last week after a two-month halt caused by the security disturbances which expanded to the university in mid-march, during the protests witnessed in the country to demand political and constitutional reforms. A student who pulled out from the education faculty said to under condition of anonymity that all the gates were closed except for one that is controlled by security men and checkpoints, which caused traffic jams and prevented the students from attending their morning lectures.

She added that all the students were “forced” to sign a “loyalty pledge to the command to be able to pursue their studies,” continuing that the document featured conditions and instructions imposing restrictions on participation in any student activities and prohibiting participation in political ones. As for student Mahmoud from the IT faculty, he said to that the university’s administration separated the parking lot from the buildings and the different faculties and buildings from each other with an iron fence, which made it difficult for the students to move around. As for student Fatima, she said she was forced to pull out due to the stringent security measures on the checkpoints spread inside and outside the university…, mentioning that the policewomen subjected the female students to searches by making them go through metal-detectors.

Another student who requested anonymity due to fears of being arrested – as she said – described to the university campus as being a military barrack. She claimed that through these measures the university administration was targeting the students belonging to the opposition,” which subjected these students to humiliation…” In this context, the head of the Bahrain Youth Association for Human Rights, Muhammad al-Masqati, said that over two thousands students dropped out due to the increase of the security measures. Moreover, 150 students were ousted and the studies of 170 students abroad were discontinued because they expressed their opinions during the protests or via social networking websites. He added to over the phone that Bahrain University was “no longer fit for studying due to the security measures.”

He consequently believed that students could not study under such pressures, indicating that his association had received complaints about mistreatment on the checkpoints and pursuit via the newly-installed cameras throughout the campus. He assured that his association will address some concerned international organizations to inform them about what was happening, especially since the government had signed the special pact related to cultural, economic and social rights. For its part, the university did not comment on these measures and the increasing withdrawals, but deputy chairman Youssef al-Bastaki said that the measures were adopted to enhance security on campus… He added in statements to Bahrain television that the students will sign loyalty vows to the country and its command, and will be registered again once they pledge to abstain from carrying out any action which might undermine security on campus.

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