Letter to Dr. Mike Diboll from the University of Bahrain

Today I begin publishing correspondence relating to the dispute between myself and my former employers, the University of Bahrain.

The rationale for this is:

  1. The correspondence shows the UoB to be in gross violation of international norms of academic freedom and best practice
  2. Exposing the UoB’s dealings with me might help others in Bahrain who have been victimized by the UoB but cannot speak out
  3. Exposing the UoB’s dealings with me should stand as a warning to any individual or Higher Education Institution contemplating a relationship with state-sector Bahrain institutions
  4. Publication of correspondence relating to my case might help all victims of the UoB obtain just compensation for their suffering, an important part of any meaningful reconciliation process in Bahrain.
I begin by publishing the 22nd June letter sent to me in response to my May 18th resignation letter. I’ve written to the UoB and the Ministry of Education four times since receiving this letter, and to the British Ambassador to Bahrain once, and have never had the courtesy of a reply.
The letter published below states two reasons for the UoB not accepting my resignation (and therefore depriving me of a substantial sum in end-of-contract settlements):
  1. Surveillance of my Internet activity (page 2)
  2. Unauthorized absence from campus (page 2)
The first reason is a clear violation of academic freedom, and helps to confirm complaints from Bahraini students and faculty regarding surveillance of an interference with their personal communications. For the record, my posts during the February-March 2011 uprising fall well within the bounds of fair comment, rather than the “sectarian and political activity” mentioned on page 2.
In response to the second reason, my absence was in accordance with FCO advice at the time. Further, I shall tomorrow publish further details of the medical notes relating to my absence. I’ll note for the time being that the Bahrain Ministry of Health to whom I was supposed to report was at that time actively complicit in the detention and torture of patients and medical staff.


5 thoughts on “Letter to Dr. Mike Diboll from the University of Bahrain

    • Thanks, Linda. The treatment I received from the UoB was indeed a disgrace, and an utter transgression of the professional norms followed by any university worthy of the name.

      All I can say is that if this is how I was treated, who as a British citizen have a home country to return to, imagine the treatment that was dealt out to Bahraini faculty and students. It is my sincere hope that in exposing the UoB by publishing their documents in relation to me, others who cannot do so will in the long run be helped.

      I also hope that these documents will serve as a warning to any British academic or higher education institution that wooed by PR and smooth-talk might consider a relationship with the current Bahrain regime and its institutions.

      I knew the previous Ambassador, Jamie Bowden, quite well. He is a decent and humane man with considerable MENA region experience and area knowledge.

      He offended the Khalifa regime when he met with officials from Al Wefaq in 2010, the regime protested over his “interference”, and demanded he was replaced. I suspect he saw what was coming, as did all informed people in Bahrain during that politically fraught year that saw the marginalisation of the Crown Prince’s reform movement.

      His replacement, Iain Lindsay, seems to confuse the role of HM Ambassador with that of regime PR man. While he’s very much concerned to use the current crisis as a sales opportunity for UK PLC, he’s a lot less hot on supporting the needs of individual Britons vis-a-vis the regime.

      I do intend to write to Lord Avebury on a number of matters.


  1. BAHRAIN: A microcosm that typifies the intensifying dilemma of the Arab regimes
    Dr. Mike Diboll’s timely prose on Hard Lessons in Bahrain (The Chronicle Review April 13, 2012, pp. B4-B5) truly encapsulates the lingering dilemma which is not only faced by the academics and the populace in Bahrain, but is also endured by the academics and grassroots populations in most countries in this region. Without a sustainable level of fundamental socio-political development and economic parity where all citizens are empowered, no amount of money and transplantation of modern educational reforms or technology can truly create self-reliance in these societies. A skeptic might refute Diboll’s hell-raising as his own personal vendetta after he reluctantly resigned from his professorial post in Bahrain. However, the proliferation of Bahrain’s impasse is deeply rooted in its apartheid policies.
    Amnesty International reports that since February 2011, well over 50 people, almost all Shiites, have been killed in Bahrain and thousands have been imprisoned, tortured, summarily tried in military tribunals and convicted as political prisoners of conscience. It was ultimately Saudi Arabian Special Forces that entered, via the Fahd Causeway, into the small emirate in order to quench dissent in Bahrain; nonetheless, their effort only bolstered the protesters’ resolve. A so-called “Fact Finding Report” commissioned by the self-proclaimed king and perceived by international observers as pro forma, was watered down and then thrown into the bin of oblivion. Though the al-Khalifa ruling family hastily canceled their luxurious PR driven Formula One sponsored Grand Prix last year, they reinstated it this week against all advice and in the dire hope of dodging the domestic revolution and by portraying the island as safe and secure. Bahrain apart for a moment, what was pleasantly striking in Diboll’s article, is his use of the term, “Persian Gulf”, which is the internationally accepted name since the Persian Achaemenian Dynasty, and as recorded by Herodotus, circa 535 BCE.
    The archipelago of Bahrain (less than 300 square miles, that’s half the size of Oahu, Hawaii) consists of one major and thirty two smaller islands, located at the southern shores of the Persian Gulf and next to the Arabian Peninsula, historically known as Najd and Hijaz [Saudi Arabia, named after the Saud clan installed by the British, who have been in charge of this peninsula for only one hundred years]. This archipelago was historically the fourteenth Iranian province through 1971. Before the British fleet left the Persian Gulf in 1971, they administered a pro forma referendum to impel the fate of Bahrain as an emirate (sheikdom), again, the old British tactic of divide to rule from afar; Bahrain only declared itself a kingdom in 2002. In response to the protest by the Shah of Iran in 1971, the British recognized the sovereignty of three islands in the Persian Gulf, namely, Abu Musa, the lesser and greater Tombs, to Iran, as a symbolic consolation prize.
    Bahrain’s population of 666,666 is comprised of 75% Moslem Shiites of Iranian ancestry, and 25% ruling Sunnis, the Al-Khalifa clan, mostly transplanted from Najd and Hijaz in the 19th century. In fact, there are an additional 500,000 migrant workers and their children who are practically serving the less than 200,000 Sunnis and have no rights whatsoever. The estimated GDP of $35 billion dollars is controlled by the Sunnis, while the majority Shiites and the half a million subservient migrant workers only hold 5% and 0.5% of the national wealth, respectively. So, the historical citizen majority of Bahrain has remained as the subservient secondary and tertiary citizen minorities. As Diboll points out , the waste of non-renewable natural and human resources in the region will continue, unless the true aspirations for freedom, equality, and justice yearned by all people first lead to a transformative and transparent system of democratic government for Bahrain as well as other countries in Southwest Asia and north Africa. A new era of peaceful tranquility and cooperation will then be ushered in for this region.

  2. Pingback: Loyalty for sale: how GCC governments buy expats’ silence. « Brighton Taxi by Miranda Diboll

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