In May 2011, more than 500 students at the University of Bahrain and Bahrain Polytechnic were reportedly subjected to mass expulsion and/or suspension, in retaliation for their role in an on-campus protest at the main Sakhir campus of the University of Bahrain the prior March.
According to reports, photographs taken of a March 13, 2011 protest on the campus of the University of Bahrain showed roughly 400-500 students involved. On or about May 18, on the basis of these photographs, University of Bahrain authorities reportedly ordered the expulsion of 427 students, and ordered another 34 students suspended. On or about June 13, 2011, Bahrain Polytechnic authorities reportedly took similar action, expelling 54 students, and suspending another 12.
The following August, university and government officials reportedly reversed the expulsions of 389 of the University of Bahrain students and 33 of the Bahrain Polytechnic students; the suspensions of the 38 the University of Bahrain students were also reversed. However, those students reportedly would be required to retake their spring semester.
Scholars at Risk is concerned about the mass expulsion of university students in apparent retaliation for nonviolent expression and association – conduct which is expressly protected under international human rights instruments including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. State and university authorities have a responsibility not to interfere with the rights to freedom of expression and association, so long as those rights are undertaken peacefully and responsibly. Retaliatory discharge aimed at limiting expression and association undermine academic freedom and democratic society generally.