Our colleague, Mahdi Abu Dheeb, president of the Bahrain Teachers Association, is still in prison despite an international campaign for his release. He was jailed in 2011 along with deputy chair Jalila al-Salman, who has since been released. 

Teachers were routinely persecuted and interrogated after the teachers union called a strike in the country in the aftermath of the events across the region known as the Arab Spring. A report at the time stated:

"Teachers have been facing severe degradation, not only being subjected to arrests, humiliation, insults, torture, and sacking but also have been subjected to an aggressive working environment not knowing what will happen next.

"The Ministry of Education has been sending probe committees to schools or calling them to the ministry for interrogation. There are teachers who have been through up to 4 interrogations where they were questioned about participating in peaceful protests, going to the Pearl roundabout, being members of the teachers’ union or any political society for that matter, going on strike, and participating in sit-ins in front of schools or the ministry premises.

"Theconsistent interrogations and the aggression in the schools towards them being looked at as criminals and treated as traitors being reported on by their colleagues and schools’ management has created a difficult environment to work in and it was made even tougher awaiting to be called for yet another interrogation or to be told that they have been sacked."

Bahrain is a major ally of both the US and the UK. The US has its fifth naval fleet based there. It is a dictatorship where the punishment for insulting the King is up to five years imprisonment. All dissent is ruthlessly crushed - last year, police fired tear gas into a peaceful demonstration of school children during the time of protests against the staging of Formula 1 grand prix in the country.

In an open letter to the King of Bahrain Mahdi Abu Dheeb wrote:  "All I want from this is reform, real reform and not just those promises you [the king of Bahrain] gave the people without actually making them happen. Real reform is what helps our country avoid injustice, tyranny, discrimination and stealing wealth... We, the people, grew tired with the deteriorating living circumstances, [the lack of] constitutional rights and political freedom. That is why we went out to demand real reform and dedicated ourselves to peacefulness and good behavior." 

The human rights organisation Amnesty International is demanding the release of Mahdi Abu Dheeb, who is suffering from ill health, partly as a result of the treatment meted out to him, and is denied the medical treatment he needs. Go to the Solidarity and Action page of this website to protest his treatment.