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BCHR concerned about Bahrain's election to UNESCO education bureau

(BCHR/IFEX) - 29 January 2012 - On 25 January 2012, Bahrain was elected Vice-President of the UNESCO International Bureau of Education (IBE), despite the country's record of human rights violations and the targeting by the Ministry of Education of members of the educational sector, including students, teachers, and professors. The Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR) condemns the UNESCO's decision to turn a blind eye on human rights and educational violations in Bahrain, especially as one of the main roles of the organisation is to protect and nurture individual human rights. This act does not serve to elevate the cause of human rights, rather it expresses support for a regime that is consistently targeting educators and students for exercising their right to freedom of expression. BCHR demands that Bahrain's membership in the UNESCO IBE be frozen, and contingent on the authorities taking steps to put an end to the targeting of members of the education sector.

The Bahraini government has been systematically violating human rights since the start of the pro-democracy movement on 14 February 2011. Its brutal mass attack on pro-democracy protesters has resulted in the killing of 62 protesters, the sacking of more than 2,000 workers, the arrest and detention of more than 1,000 political detainees and many critical injuries. The medical and educational sectors have been the most affected by the government's systematic crackdown on the opposition. The educational sector has especially been attacked on a large scale with the targeting of teachers, students and university professors. The following is a list of the ongoing violations against the educational sector in Bahrain:

University students:
• More than 500 university students were deprived from their studies by expulsion or suspension
• Around 26 students are yet to be reinstated to their schools
• Tens were arrested and hundreds are currently awaiting trial
• At least 6 students are in jail and sentenced to 15 years' imprisonment

University professors:
• More than 20 university professors were sacked and suspended for going to the Pearl Roundabout and many are currently waiting to be sentenced
• Others were arrested and tortured in detention

School teachers and students:
• The Bahrain Teachers Association was dissolved by the government
• Teacher unionists were arrested, tortured and sentenced to up to 10 years' imprisonment, and 7 of them are currently awaiting trial
• Schools were raided by security forces, where students and teachers were tortured on school campus and violently arrested
• Hundreds of teachers were arrested, detained and tortured
• More than 100 teachers were sacked from their jobs, only to be reinstated after more than 7 months and their positions were downgraded for participating in pro-democracy protests
• Hundreds of teachers were unjustly subjected to salary cuts
• Many students were expelled or suspended for political writings in their textbooks such as "Down Down Hamad"

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION
Related stories on ifex.org
  • Teachers, doctors and rights activists sentenced, some to life in prison

    Bahrain's widely boycotted by-elections on 24 September and 1 October were the background setting for multiple military court hearings that condemned dozens of journalists, activists, teachers and doctors to long prison terms. They were targeted for speaking out in favour of reforms during demonstrations in February or simply for doing their jobs, report the Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR) and other IFEX members. Among those arrested during the elections were 45 female protesters, some of whom have been reportedly tortured.



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