Sat Jul 9, 2011
The Bahraini regime has systematically targeted famous athletes as well as university students for practicing their legitimate right to peaceful protests, a rights group says.
The Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR) says that more than 150 athletes have been targeted with arrests, military trials, prison sentences as well as suspensions from sport activities for expressing their dissatisfaction with the Bahraini Al Khalifa regime through peaceful protests.
The crackdown came as Naser Bin Hamad Al Khalifa, the king’s son and the head of the Higher Council for Youth and Sports ordered the formation of an investigation committee into the alleged anti-regime activities of the athletes.
The friends and relatives of the Bahraini footballers say the players were beaten up and subjected to long interrogations and humiliation in custody.
“The men who were beating them were not Bahraini. They didn’t care who they were,” a friend of the players told Times on the condition of anonymity.
The Bahrain Center for Human Rights have also expressed deep concerns for continuing and escalating systematic targeting of university students by the regime as well as the Ministry of Education.
So far, some 400 students have been reportedly expelled in less than two months, the BCHR said.
Local rights groups added that many of the students are Shia Muslims.
Since mid-February, Bahraini protesters have been holding anti-government protests demanding an end to the rule of Al Khalifa dynasty which they say has instituted despotic governance, discrimination and the suppression of any dissent.
The US-backed regime, which has ruled the Persian Gulf country for over 40 years, has met the popular protests with a brutal crackdown that has left scores dead and many more arrested.