Mahdi Abu Dheeb

Education International is calling on affiliates and members to demand medical treatment for teacher union leader Mahdi Abu Dheeb, who is imprisoned in Bahrain. He is the leader of the outlawed Bahraini Teachers Assocation (BTA) and was imprisoned in 2011, following brave actions by Bahraini teachers demanding democracy in the country. His health is poor and the authorities are refusing to allow him to have the medical attention and medication which he needs.

At the time of the uprisings in the Middle East known as the Arab Spring, teachers were in the forefront of the protests and many suffered imprisonment and torture for taking part. There were reports of children being pulled from buses by security forces helped by the Saudi military and beaten up if they did not have the picture of the King of Bahrain in their textbooks. Meanwhile Western governments – like the US and the UK – who pay lip service to democracy when it fits with their interests - continue to do business with Bahrain. The Financial Times reports that a defence pact between Bahrain and the US, has been extended to 2016 . It reports a senior US official as saying: “Bahrain is a long-standing partner and ally, and we are publicly and privately committed to that partnership.”

Meanwhile, union leaders fighting for democracy are put in peril of their lives in Bahraini prisons.