Amnesty International: Mounting fears for Bahraini teachers held after protests
Submitted by admin on 27. July 2011 - 20:49. -->
Left: Jalila al-Salman and Right: Mahdi ‘Issa Mahdi Abu Dheeb
27 July 2011
Bahrain’s authorities must immediately release two teachers held since they led a strike in March if they are being held solely for their involvement in peaceful protests, Amnesty International said today amid claims one of them was tortured.
Jalila al-Salman and Mahdi ‘Issa Mahdi Abu Dheeb were among several board members of the Bahrain Teachers’ Association (BTA) arrested in Manama after the group called for a teachers’ strike amid wide-scale pro-reform protests in March.
Their colleagues have since been released, but the two – the group’s former president and vice-president – are still facing trial on charges that include “inciting hatred against the regime” and “calling to overthrow and change the regime by force”.
“None of the statements made in relation to the teachers’ strike advocated violence of any kind. If these teachers are being held solely because they led a peaceful demonstration, they must be released immediately,” said Malcolm Smart, Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Director.
“We are very concerned about reports that Jalila al-Salman was beaten in custody – Bahraini authorities must immediately set up a full, impartial and independent investigation into these allegations and bring to justice anyone found responsible.”
Following the unrest in Bahrain in February and March, the Minister of Human Rights and Social Development dissolved the BTA’s board and replaced them with government appointees.
More than 40 security officers raided Jalila al-Salman’s house in Manama on 29 March. At first, she was reportedly taken to the Criminal Investigations Directorate and held in solitary confinement and subjected to beatings for about a week.
She was then transferred to a detention centre in ‘Issa Town, just south of the capital, where she remains. Her family learned of her whereabouts two months after her arrest, but have only been allowed to visit her on two occasions, under strict surveillance.
Both Jalila al-Salman and Mahdi ‘Issa Mahdi Abu Dheeb appeared before a military court several times in June before their cases were transferred to a civilian court and postponed until further notice.
According to local human rights organizations, many teachers and members of the BTA were detained, harassed and tortured or otherwise ill-treated for their participation in protests earlier this year.
Hundreds of people across Bahraini society have been detained since mid-March, when authorities cracked down on pro-reform protests. Scores of detainees, including medical professionals and prominent opposition activists, were brought before military courts for leading the protests and in some cases calling for a change of government.
Roula al-Saffar, the head of the Bahrain Nursing Society, has been held for more than 100 days and is the only other woman besides Jalila al-Salman who is still being detained in relation to the protests. She is among a group of health professionals accused of committing felonies during the protests, including theft of medicines, stockpiling arms and giving anti-government statements to the media – accusations that they strongly deny.
“Bahrain’s authorities must release all detainees who are still being held merely for exercising their legitimate right to freedom of expression during protests earlier this year,” said Malcolm Smart.
“Anyone charged with an internationally recognizable criminal offence must be promptly given a fair trial in a civilian court and without resort to the death penalty.”
Document - Bahrain: Teachers arrested for striking in Bahrain
UA: 227/11 Index: MDE 11/040/2011 Bahrain
Date: 26 July 2011 Date: 14 January 2011
teachers arrested for striking in bahrain
The former president and vice-president of the Bahrain Teachers ’ Association (BTA) have been detained since the end of March . They are now facing trial and Amnesty International believes they are likely to be prisoners of conscience .
Jalila a l - Salman and Mahdi ‘ Issa Mahdi Abu Dheeb, together with several other board members of the BTA, were arrested in March and April 2011. While their colleagues were released, they were brought to trial before the National Safety Court of First Instance (a military court) on 15 June on charges which include “inciting hatred towards the regime”, “calling to overthrow and change the regime by force”, “calling on parents not to send their children to school” and “calling on teachers to stop working and participate in strikes and demonstrations”. After further hearings on 22 and 29 June - their trial was transferred to a civilian court and postponed until further notice.
Jalila al-Salman’s house in Manama was raided on 29 March by more than 40 security officers. She was reportedly taken to the Criminal Investigations Directorate (CID) in Manama where she remained for about a week during which she was reportedly beaten, including with objects, and held in solitary confinement. She is believed to have been transferred to the custody of the military and held there for around two months, before being transferred again to a detention centre in ‘Issa Town in Bahrain, where she is currently held. Jalila al-Salman’s family were not aware of her whereabouts until soon after her transfer to the detention centre in ‘Issa Town and have only been allowed to see her there on two occasions. The second of these visits was on 16 July, and was under very strict surveillance.
Amnesty International has reviewed statements issued by the BTA. One of them, published on 13 March, called on teachers and employees of the Ministry of Education to go on strike, and on parents not to take their children to school during large-scale demonstrations in Bahrain. Amnesty International has also listened to speeches delivered by Mahdi ‘Issa Mahdi Abu Dheeb that made similar appeals. It has, however, seen no evidence that either of them advocated violence of any kind in these or other activities. Consequently, although the organization does not have the full details of the evidence presented so far in the trial, it believes that they are likely to be prisoners of conscience detained solely for exercising their legitimate rights to freedom of expression, association and assembly as leading members of the BTA.
Please write immediately in English or Arabic :
Expressing concern that Jalila al-Salman and Mahdi ‘Issa Mahdi Abu Deeb are being detained solely for exercising their rights to freedom of expression, association and assembly as leading members of the BTA and calling for their immediate and unconditional release if this is the case;
Urging the authorities to protect them from torture or other ill-treatment and immediately set up a full, impartial and independent investigation into the alleged ill-treatment of Jalila al-Salman, to make its results public, and bring to justice anyone responsible.
PLEASE SEND APPEALS BEFORE 2 SEPTEMBER 2011 TO :
Shaikh Hamad bin ‘Issa Al Khalifa
Office of His Majesty the King
P.O. Box 555
Rifa’a Palace, al-Manama, Bahrain
Fax: +973 176 64 587
Salutation: Your Majesty
Prince Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa
Office of the Prime Minister
P.O. Box 1000, al-Manama, Bahrain
Fax: +973 175 33 033
Salutation: Your Highness
Minister of Justice and Islamic Affairs
Sheikh Khalid bin Ali Al Khlaifa
Ministry of Justice and Islamic Affairs,
Shaikh Khalid bin Ali bin Abdullah Al Khalifa
P.O. Box 13, al-Manama, Bahrain
Fax: +973 175 31 284
Salutation: Your Excellency
Also send copies to diplomatic representatives accredited to your country.
Please check with your section office if sending appeals after the above date.
teachers arrested for striking in bahrain
After the February-March 2011 unrest in Bahrain, the Minister of Human Rights and Social Development dissolved the board of the BTA and other associations and substituted the board members by government-appointed members. Local human rights organizations have reported that many teachers and members of the BTA have been subjected to torture, detention and harassment for their participation in peaceful protests. All teachers have reportedly been released except the two mentioned above.
Hundreds of people have been detained in Bahrain in connection with anti-government protests since mid-March when Bahraini armed and security forces crushed the protests. Scores of detainees, including medical doctors and prominent opposition activists, were brought before military courts for leading the protests and in some cases for calling for regime change. On 29 June the King of Bahrain issued a decree transferring all cases being examined by military courts to ordinary civilian courts.
Name: Jalila al-Salman and Mahdi ‘Issa Mahdi Abu Dheeb
Gender m/f: Jalila al-Salman - female
Mahdi ‘Issa Mahdi Abu Dheeb - male
UA: 227/11 Index: MDE 11/040/2011 Issue Date: 26 July 2011