Release Bahraini Teachers' Leader!
MAHDI 'ISSA MAHDI ABU DHEEB
TRADE UNIONISTS and supporters of political freedom are being urged to join an urgent online protest to get Mahdi 'Issa Mahdi Abu Dheeb, the President of the Bahraini Teachers Association (BTA), released from jail.
Friends say Mahdi's health is rapidly deteriorating and the authorities have refused him access to medical treatment. He was unjustly jailed for ten years for legitimately leading his union during the nation-wide protests of March 2011.
The Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI) has called for the release of all political prisoners like Mahdi - a recommendation the authorities continue to ignore. The BICI report also describes detention and torture methods that have been inflicted on Mahdi and other detainees by the authorities. His retrial is on 19 February.
According to Amnesty International, Mahdi and Jalila al-Salman (the BTA's Vice President) appear to have been targeted solely for their leadership of the BTA and for peacefully exercising their rights to freedom of expression, association and assembly.
The Bahraini authorities have cracked down on teachers and trade unionists through arbitrary arrests, military prosecution, investigation, suspensions, dismissals, salary cuts and torture. While some workers have been reinstated in response to the global outcry, the situation remains dire for most. None of the 55 trade union leaders - including six national leaders - have been reinstated.
The Education International (EI) which unites teachers' unions in many countries is calling on the Bahraini authorities to immediately release on bail Mahdi 'Issa Mahdi Abu Dheeb, President of the Bahraini Teachers Association (BTA), given his deteriorating health condition.
The EI says: "The appeal of Jalila al-Salman and Mahdi 'Issa Mahdi Abu Dheeb, Vice-President and President of the BTA, held on 11 December, was adjourned by the Supreme Court of Appeal to 19 February, consequently prolonging the detention of Mahdi. Jalila, who is currently freed on bail, reported to EI that there are serious fears regarding the condition of the BTA President's health which is reported to be deteriorating day by day since he was transferred to Jaw Prison in October.
"Officials continue to deny him the medical help he urgently needs. The request of the BTA lawyers to release Mahdi on bail, given the state of his health, was rejected by the court. The report of the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI) describes detention and torture methods that have been inflicted on Mahdi and other detainees by the authorities. The BTA lawyers asked the court to include the BICI report as evidence in the case. They also requested for the so-called „
"EI also condemns the dissolution and the arbitrary procedures against the BTA which are in clear violation of the free exercise of human and trade union rights in Bahrain, and violate Bahrain's own labour laws as well as Bahrain's obligations as a member state of the International Labour Organisation".
For more information see:
Amnesty International (21 December 2011), Health fears for Bahraini teacher
Education International (9 December 2011) Bahrain: Drop all charges against teachers, unionists and student
Briefing document (300 words) issued 27 Jan 2012