ITUC OnLine: A protest delivered to the Bahrain Embassy in Brussels today by international, European and Belgian trade union organisations calls on the authorities in the Gulf state to stop their violent campaign against the country’s trade union movement, to reinstate over 1,000 workers sacked and to drop false charges against union leaders, journalists and human rights defenders.
“The Bahraini authorities have launched a vicious crackdown on peaceful and legitimate civil society organisations, including the trade union movement. There are real threats to the personal safety of people who are simply calling for legitimate reform and social justice. The government’s attempts to promote division and avoid change by misusing the power of the state are wrong and unsustainable. We are calling on them to stop repression, release all detained trade unionists, teachers, journalists, students and workers. The only way to end this impasse which threatens the country’s future is to open genuine dialogue for progress, and stop the repression,” said ITUC General Secretary Sharan Burrow.
Embassy officials refused to talk to the delegation delivering today’s protest, which, led by ITUC General Secretary Sharan Burrow, included the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC), Education International (EI), the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), the Belgian trade union centres ACV/CSC, ABVV/FGTB and ACLVB/CGSLB, as well as the Tunisian trade union centre UGTT.
Attacks on the trade union movement in Bahrain
On behalf of the International Trade Union Confederation, Education International, the International Federation of Journalists, the Belgian trade unions ACV/CSC, ABVV/FGTB and ACLVB/CGSLB, with a total membership of more than 176 million workers around the world, we want to express our deepest concern at the on-going attacks on the Bahraini trade union movement.
Dismissals of workers for participating in demonstrations and marches, calling for democracy and reforms have increased and are clearly focusing on the leaders of trade union organizations.
Real fears continue to prevail regarding the personal safety of trade union leaders. This includes the leadership of the General Federation of the Bahraini Trade Unions, the leadership of the Bahraini Teacher Association and at least 68 journalists, working for two leading Bahraini newspapers and human right’s defender.
They all are being accused by your government and parliament of leading a conspiracy to overthrow the regime. All these false accusations are only an excuse to target the independence and the integrity of the trade union movement.
We urge you to:
- Ensure the immediate and unconditional release of all detained trade unionists, teachers, journalists, students and workers;
- Put an end to all acts of harassment against trade union leaders and activists;
- Reinstate all fired workers and guarantee the return of all trade union representatives to their jobs and allow them to resume their trade union functions;
- We urge you to re-establish a climate of respect for press freedom which the right of the public to accurate information requires and to release all detained journalists;
- We request that you engage in a respectful dialogue to bring about a peaceful and fair solution to the issues and legitimate claims of the Bahraini people;
As a member of the ILO, Bahrain is bound by international treaties, and we remind you that your government must fulfil its obligations and respect trade union rights and fundamental liberties such as freedom of expression and freedom of association.