Bahrain: Ongoing Human Rights Violations in the Trial of Leaders of the Teachers Association in Bahrain

12.12.11

Beirut, December 12, 2011 - On Sunday, December 11, 2011, the Supreme Court of Appeal held its first hearing to consider prison sentences issued by a military tribunal against two human rights defenders. On September 25, the Court of National Security has sentenced Mr. Mahdi Abu Deeb, President of the Teachers Association of Bahrain to 10 years in prison. His deputy, Mrs. Jalila Al-Salman, was sentenced to 3 years in prison. According to Bahraini law, both Abu Deeb and Salman should be tried in a civil court, not a military tribunal.

In yet another human rights violation, the Bahraini authorities brought human rights defender Mr. Mahdi Abu Deeb to the court, handcuffed wearing light prison dress, on a cold winter day. The authorities did not allow him to wear more clothes to get warm and waited until the start of the hearing to get his hands uncuffed.  

Once the hearing started the defense team consists from  lawyers, Ms. Jalila Al-Sayed for activist Mahdi Abu Dib and Mr. Mohammed Al-Jishi for activist Jalila Al-Salman, started to present their requests which focused on the case of defender Mehdi Abu Dib and included: to challenge the constitutionality of the Court of National Security that has made the verdicts,  the annexation of Bassiouni’s report, which refers to the torture that has been practiced against Mr. Mahdi Abu Deeb and includes number of paragraphs that illustrate methods of detention and torture, as evidence in the file of this case, a request for the cancellation of confessions and similar to doctors and medics, as they were taken from both activists under the threat of torture, and finally Mrs. Jalila Al-Sayed talked about the ill-treatment of her client in the prison which includes preventing him from protecting his ears against the cold despite the presence of inflammation in both of them and referring to the lack of medical care, which negatively affects his health, demanding his release under any guarantee that the judge deems appropriate.

The judge later postponed the hearing to February 19, 2011, and ordered the the annexation of Bassiouni’s report in the file of the case, keeping in prison human rights defender Mahdi Abu Deeb.

It is worth mentioning, that on March 29, 2011, Jalila Al-Salman, the vice president of the Teachers Association, was taken from her home to an unknown location. On April 6, 2011, security forces arrested Abu Deeb, along with other teachers. They were all held for weeks, being isolated from the outside world and not allowed to contact their families or their lawyers. On August 21, 2011, Al-Salman was released, while Abu Deeb was held in arbitrary detention until now.

The Gulf Centre for Human Rights calls on the Bahraini government to immediately release Mehdi Abu Deeb and to revoke the sentence issued against him and his colleague Jalila Al-Salman and to respect the trade union’s freedom to work. The Gulf Centre for Human Rights calls on the respective authorities to stop arbitrary procedures against the Teachers Association of Bahrain and allow it to work freely and reinstate the dismissed teachers to their previous jobs and the abolition of all administrative penalties issued against them and their colleagues.

For more information, please contact:

Bahrain:  Nabeel Rajab (Arabic and English)                        +973-396-333-99

Lebanon: Khalid Ibrahim (Arabic and English)                     +961-701-595-52

The Gulf Centre for Human Rights is an independent centre and has been  registered in Ireland. The Centre works to strengthen support for human rights defenders and independent journalists in Bahrain, Iraq, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and Yemen.