Education International has joined other trade unions and human rights groups to demand that the authorities in Bahrain release the leaders of the Bahraini Teachers’ Association (BTA) from prison. The BTA President, Mahdi Abu Dheeb, and Vice President, Jalila al-Salman, were sentenced to ten and three years’ imprisonment on 25 September.
Since their arbitrary arrests in April, alongside other BTA leaders, Mahdi Abu Dheeb has been subjected to alleged mistreatment. He began a hunger strike on 11 September to protest against his continuing detention and the incarceration of his colleagues.
Handing down its ruling on 25 September, the Bahrain National Security Court's first chamber found Mahdi Abu Dheeb and Jalila al-Salman ‘guilty’ of: ‘Exploitation of the Association of Teachers to incite crimes such as calling for teachers’ sit-ins; disruption of the educational process in the Bahraini Kingdom by demonstrations and sit-ins in front of schools; calls on parents not to send their children to school; promotion of an overthrow of government; inciting hatred by broadcasting false news, and gathering in public places to disrupt public order and the educational process in the Kingdom.’
As this is a ruling in the first instance, an appeal is possible, and all options remain on the table.
EI and its partners call for the immediate and unconditional release of Jalila al-Salman and Mahdi Abu Dheeb, the respect for fundamental rights and freedoms of teachers, students and their unions.
The international community is clear that the persecution of teachers and students in Bahrain must end and a reform process must be started to enable freedom of expression and freedom of association.
You can help by sending an online message to the Bahraini authorities now!