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Jordan: Education International condemns dissolution of teachers’ union and detention of leaders

[Update] Education International is calling on workers and unionists to urge the Jordanian authorities to immediately stop harassing the leaders of the Jordanian Teachers Association (JTA) and threatening its very existence. At least 18 JTA teacher unionists were arrested in Irbid, Jordan on Monday 15 February.

The teachers had announced their intention to peacefully demonstrate against the dissolution of their organisation and the judicial harassment targeting the 13 board members of the teacher organisation. 
 
In an excessive and disproportionate use of force, the police circled and locked the area around the Culture roundabout where the offices of the union branch for Irbid province are located to prevent the protest march from taking place. They arrested teachers who tried to gather despite the police presence. 
 
Amongst the arrestees are two JTA board members, Ghaleb Abu Qadi and Mutassim Al-Bashtawi, as well as the head of the union branch in Irbid, Sharaf Obeidat. 
 
EI renews its call for solidarity with the JTA and the teachers of Jordan. We call on all EI member organisations to take action now: 
 
Background
 
On 31 December, the Amman Magistrate's Court authorised the dissolution of the JTA and the detention of all 13 teacher association board members for a year. The detained union leaders have been released on bail while the JTA Board appeals the judicial decision.
 
According to Education International, the dissolution is illegal and due to an improper interpretation of the legal provisions. The sentence against the board members is also unfair, because they were prevented from presenting evidence against the charges. 
 
LabourStart petition
 
Education International urges you to sign the LabourStart petition requesting that teachers and education workers in Jordan can exercise their fundamental rights fully.
The Jordanian authorities must refrain from harassing the leaders of the JTA. In addition, Education International believes that this legitimate professional organisation should not be dissolved for the sole reason that its demands are inconvenient for the authorities. 
 
Education International reaffirms that workers should be allowed to enjoy freedom of association and their right to collective bargaining as guaranteed by the national constitution as well as international treaties to which Jordan is a party.
 
Ongoing harassment of education unionists
 
Unfortunately, these actions are just the latest developments in a series of actions undertaken by Jordanian authorities against teacher unionists. 
 
For example, in October 2020, Jordan’s authorities imposed a ban on a JTA public press conference called to discuss the situation of education in Jordan and the conditions experienced by teachers. The press conference also sought to reach out to JTA members as the organisation had been forcefully closed for two years. The ban was implemented with security forces delivering an order from the Governor of Amman to prohibit the union’s press conference.
 
In August 2020, after a concerted global campaign highlighting their situation, JTA board members were freed from jail, having been imprisoned since July. The JTA leaders had been arrested by security forces on 25 July, and Education International had urged the Jordanian authorities to release the unionists.