22 May 2012 In the past few months, violations of students' rights in Bahrain have continued by the regime. University students have been imprisoned for over a year after being sentenced to 15 years in sham trials. The Bahraini authorities are subjecting more students to illegitimate trials, just recently sentencing two students to 5 years imprisonment based on confessions extracted under torture. Furthermore, at least 4 students are facing difficulties in getting back to their studies, due to travel ban. Bahraini and Saudi authorities placing a travel ban on students At least four students are not being allowed to resume their studies due to travel ban. Zainab Maklooq (24), Alaa Sayed (24) and Zahraa Zabar (23) are three medical students at Al-Damam University (AKA King Faisal University). They used to reside in the university’s housing and would visit Bahrain only on weekends whenever possible, giving them little or no time to have any kind of involvement in the political situation in Bahrain. After the crackdown on 21 March 2011, the Director of Al Dammam University housing informed them that an order came from the Higher National Security Council for their immediate deportation from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA). They were asked to take their personal belongings with them. The head of the University’s Office Manager was waiting for them and drove them personally in his private car, to the King Fahad causeway and handed them to Bahraini security forces who were waiting for them. According to the students around 50 masked police officers received them. At that point, they lost all contact with their families. They were put in a mini-bus where they were shouted at, ridiculed and insulted with no regard to Zainab for example, who was 3 months pregnant. They underwent long harsh investigations and were imprisoned for 23 days for made-up charges of “criticizing governments’ symbols”, “inciting hatred towards the regime”, “organizing protests at the university” and “contacting foreign TV channels and disseminating misleading information”. Despite the fact that there was no evidence, their lawyer’s request for their release was denied and they were taken to the Military Court. After three court hearings, their case was acquitted on 21 June 2011. Despite the fact that their case was acquitted, they were banned from going back to Saudi Arabia by the Saudi’s authorities. They were told that they are not welcomed. The students have exerted all efforts and contacted the Ministry of Interior, Supreme Council of Women, Bahraini Embassy in Riyadh, Saudi Embassy in Bahrain, King Fahad causeway authorities, amongst many others. They have also been in contact with their university which did not either confirm or deny whether they were expelled. Zainab and Alaa are in their sixth year of studies, only a few months away from graduating medical school, while Zahraa is in her fifth year. It has been a year since the students were deported from Saudi Arabia. They are still working hard to get back to their university. They have contacted several universities but they were informed that they have to repeat at least 3 years of study.

New expulsion from study

Mahmood Habib is another medicine student on a scholarship to the University of King Faisal in Saudi Arabia. He was in his 6th year of studies – which is the last year – and was due to take his final exam. However, he was not allowed by the university administration. Mahmood was not informed of the reasons behind his ban and was asked to wait. During that, he was called for investigation by the university. The investigation panel told him that complaints were submitted by some of his colleagues accusing him of inciting hatred towards the Bahraini regime during a presentation. Mahmood requested to be given the chance to prove that those allegations were not true and bring witnesses. At the end of the investigation, he was told that he was being suspended. He contacted the University’s president, Scholarship Office in the Ministry of Education, Bahraini Cultural Council and other official parties but there was no answer. He was recently informed of being permanently expelled from the university, although he was never accused or charged with any offense.

New sham trials one year after UOB thug attack

On 7 May 2012, Mohammed Al Fardan and Sayed Amjad Al Alawi were sentenced to 5 years’ imprisonment with charges relating to their supposed involvement in the March 13 government-sponsored thug attack on the University of Bahrain (UOB). They were accused of beating up a student whose video was released by MOI 8 months after the events. Khalid Al Sadri, the student who allegedly was beaten, stated to the New York Times that “he did not know any of the students who were sentenced” and “Now one of my attackers is back with me in class”, which raises doubts and suspicions on the basis of which Mohammed and Sayed Amjad were arrested and sentenced.

Appeals of students sentenced 15 years imprisonment postponed

There are 5 other students sentenced by military court to 15 years’ imprisonment, who are still detained: Jawad Al Mahary, Shawqi Radhi, Jassim Mohammed AlMukhodher, Jassim Al Hulaibi, Yousif Ahmed. Despite evidence presented by their lawyers proving either that they were not present in the university on March 13 2011 or not taking part in the clashes based on several witnesses' testimonies, they have been detained for well over a year now. Their appeal has been postponed more than once, delaying justice and unlawfully holding them captive. According to lawyers, the court was also provided with photos of well-known figures from the university incident who were holding weapons, including metal bars and clubs. Even though the criminal procedure law allows the court to accuse new defendants when their relation to the case is proved, the judge did not respond to some of the lawyers’ requests. In sum, the actions taken by the judges are proven to be of a discriminatory basis. Although evidences are clear against government-sponsored thugs, no actions have been taken to hold them accountable for their crimes. Meanwhile, students specifically from the Shia sect are being illegitimately put behind bars and sentenced up to 15 years’ imprisonment with no evidence. Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR) appeals upon human rights and educational organizations to call the Bahraini authorities to immediately: - Release of all detained students who were unlawfully detained on back of the protest in 2011. - Reverse all sentences based on sham trials - Take actions to remove the ban and reinstate the Bahraini students studying in Saudi Arabia - Demand the Ministry of Education to stop all discriminatory actions against students.