Teachers Hilaire Ayima and Claude Nzingoula have been designated prisoners of conscience by Amnesty International after they were arrested by security forces for promoting a lawful strike by the country's teachers.

The teachers have been on strike since February 25th in pursuit of a living wage. The Republic of Congo has great oil wealth as well as gold, diamonds, phosphates and other minerals. Yet it has 53% unemployment and 47% of the population living below the poverty line.

The International Monetary Fund is heavly involved with the corrupt government of Denis Sassou-Nguesso, which came to power as a result of civil war in the 1990s - toppling the elected president. He has shown himself eager to carry forward the kinds of 'reforms' they require such as privatisation and public spending cuts.

In a year, which Sassou has designated the 'Year of Education', teachers are forced to strike for weeks for a living wage and teachers are arrested for carrying out legitimate union activities. Earlier this month two leaders of the teachers' orgnasation were detained for five days and forced to make a statement on television calling on teachers to return to work.