After public pressure from students and campaigners The University of Edinburgh has decided to end a proposed a deal with Bahrain’s Ministry of Education.
The deal was announced by The Bahrain News Agency at the beginning of January but The University of Edinburgh came under immediate pressure for going into partnership with an oppressive Government.
In a short but succint statement a spokesman said, “The University of Edinburgh has concluded that we shall not proceed with this work.”
The move had received widespread condemnation from rights groups, accusing the University of entering into a programme with a dictatorial regime that was guilty of attacks against higher education students both inside and outside Bahrain.
“Whilst we believe in the need for education this is not the right time for a well respected institution to be endorsing the criminal policies of Bahrain’s Ministry of Education,” said Dominic Kavakeb of the Bahrain Justice and Development Movement. “In the past few months Bahrain has targeted student activists, sacked staff and students who sympathised with the protests and even removed scholarships of overseas Bahraini students.”
Students at The University of Edinburgh were also alarmed by the move and applied pressure to end the deal.
“We welcome the University Principal’s decision to withdraw the proposed offer, and hope that the University operates within a tight ethical framework at all times.” Said the President of Edinburgh Students’ Association Matthew McPherson.
Along with local Student Unions’, The National Union of Students was also in the process of discussing the issue before todays announcement.
“This shows that when students organise against dictatorships and crimes against humanity they can win,” said Mark Bergfeld, a member of the National Executive Committee of The National Union of Students.
Last March, the exposure of links between London School of Economics and Gaddafi’s regime in Libya led to the resignation of the LSE Director Howard Davies.
Coupled with todays news from Edinburgh, British Universities will think twice before going into deals with Governments and Regimes accused of grave human rights abuses.