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Vol. 75/No. 18      May 9, 2011

UK: Bahrain gov’t yanks
scholarships of protesters
MANCHESTER, England—Students from Bahrain studying in the United Kingdom have had their scholarships and monthly allowances cancelled by the Bahraini government for taking part in protests here calling for democratic and political rights in their homeland.

Bahrain is nominally a constitutional monarchy but the king appoints one of two houses of parliament. Shiites, who make up the majority of the population, face pervasive discrimination. Since February there have been large demonstrations in Bahrain demanding more freedoms and an end to Shiites’ second-class status. The regime has responded with a crackdown and in March brought in Saudi and United Arab Emirates troops to quell the protests.

Student Sulaiman Nasser said that after he participated in a recent protest for political rights, “my parents, who live in Bahrain, received a call from the Ministry of Education to tell them that my scholarship had been suspended,” he told the Militant. “We call only for justice, democracy, and equal rights. We are protesting because we want the killings and arrests to stop.”

The cancellation of scholarships came after a March 20 demonstration where 300 picketed in front of the BBC radio station here in Manchester in support of the struggle of Bahraini workers, students, and others. Protesters, many of them women, called for an end to the occupation by Saudi troops. People held handmade placards, including one that read: “UK, US, Bahrain—Partners in Crime.”

Activists say at least a dozen Bahrainis in the United Kingdom have lost their scholarships and monthly allowances for participating in the protests.

“My future is not clear to me,” said Ahmed Thabet. “I can’t support myself here because they cancelled my monthly allowance. I was planning to go back, but it’s hard for us because if we go back we are certain we’ll be arrested by the Bahrain authorities.”

The Bahrainis are urging student unions at the University of Manchester and University of Salford to support their fight.

“Continuing to protest is the only thing we can do,” said Rashid Abdulrahman. “We sacrificed too much already—we can’t go back. I am proud of what I did and I will continue.”
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