Seven young Bahraini citizens training to be commercial pilots in Britain have been ordered to return to their home country and present themselves to the government’s Gulf Aviation Authority (GAA).
They fear they will be arrested and tortured after showing support for the movement for change in Bahrain.
One of the students, Hameed al Bahraini, told Socialist Worker, “We got the letters from Bahrain after we went to a protest outside the embassy in London to show support for the people who want jobs and freedom in our country.
“We have a loan of around £80,000, as the training is very expensive—the only way we could ever repay it is with pilots’ wages.
“But now the government is demanding our return, we are not going to complete our studies. Our parents are guarantors for the loan. They will now be in serious debt.”
The Bahraini government has already demanded that other students studying abroad return to the country. It has stopped scholarships.
Some students have returned, only to be “disappeared” out of the airport and not seen by friends and family.
The trainee pilots are on a 16-month course at the Oxford Aviation Academy (OAA).
The GAA sent an email to OAA, stating, “Would you kindly ask the below students to book their tickets and come back to Bahrain immediately.”
GAA then sent letters to the students, saying, “You are requested to attend a compulsory and obligatory meeting at GAA premises at 10am on Monday 25th April 2011.
“Failure to attend the meeting will result in the immediate termination of your contract signed on 13th October 2009.”
Hameed told Socialist Worker, “When we got the letters, the academy in Oxford told us our course was over and we had to leave our accommodation. They said they cannot help us. We do not feel safe to go back.”
Hameed added, “I only have one exam and two weeks training left to go before I am qualified.
“We took risks to come to a new country to train, we just want to live like normal people without fear. We have not broken any terms of our contact with OAA, nor have we broken British law.
“If we go back we are sure we will be arrested.”
The NUS has initiated a petition to sign at www.ipetitions.com/petition/support-bahraini-students.Demand justice for Sayed Mahmood Shuber, a 20 year old Bahraini being held in Adlya Criminal Investigation Directorate. Phone the Bahraini embassy on 020 7201 9170. Sayed’s ID number is 910305820