An international appeal has been launched for the release of three leaders of public sector unions, including Mary Zamora, former president of the Ecuadorian National Union of Teachers.

The three were jailed for purportedly libelling the President Rafael Correa, when they questioned a decision he made to use the armed forces to release him from police hospital in 2010 - a decision which resulted in loss of life.

Rafael Correa was hailed by many, including the teachers' union, when he came to power in 2006 because he represented a break with the neo-liberal, IMF dominated policies of the past, which had resulted in the impoverishment of the people and free rein to oil companies across indigenous lands. However since that time, although he has enacted some redistributive policies, he has not only attacked indigenous leaders fighting for the rights of their people, he has also introduced a series of punitive 'reform' measures in education.

The teachers' union had put to his government a series of proposals for improving the education system, but rather than listening to the voice of the profession, his government proceeded with a course of denigrating teachers and forcing them to undertake meaningless and punitive evaluation procedures based on tests. As a result his government has been at loggerheads with the teaching union. To read more about the background to these developments, go here.

The jailing of the teachers' leader, as well as the leader of the medical and oil workers unions, is of a piece with the government's attacks on democratic rights, not least the Public Service Law which was passed in 2010, which severely restricts collective bargaining and freedom of association for public sector workers.

Please add your voice to the campaign to release the three trade unionists.