Teacher unions attacked in Bahrain and Yemen

published 25 March 2011 updated 31 March 2011

While teacher unions are determined to continue to voice demands for more freedom and rights in the region, EI keep receiving worrying reports about attacks against teachers and unionists.

In Yemen, the government responded with violence to the peaceful protesters asking for democracy and respect of fundamental workers’ rights in Sana’a and other parts of the country on Friday 18 March. The international and local media have reported that the attack on peaceful protesters in “Taghier Square” in Sana’a resulted in at least 52 deaths and hundreds of wounded, including teachers. EI has been informed by its affiliate, the Yemen Teachers Syndicate (YTS), that 5 teachers were killed (Abdullah Amed Alhumaikani, Ali Ahmed Alfalahi, Muhamed Hussien Althalaya, Naji Musleh Nasm and Awad Alsarihi) and 40 others were injured.

In Bahrain, the house of the President of the Bahraini Teacher Association, Mr. Mahdi Issa Abu Thaib, was raided by twenty members of security forces in the middle on the night on Sunday 20 March. His wife and children were interrogated for two hours. EI has also been informed that other union leaders of the teacher association were summoned by the Ministry of Education for interrogation. Teacher unionists now fear to be arrested.

Those acts of intimidation of teacher unionists are a hostile reaction to the participation of teacher unionists in the peaceful protests that started on 14 February on the Pearl Square in Bahrain; and on the strike call made on 14 March to raise concern about the physical security of academics, education workers and students in education institutions.

EI protested to the relevant governments against the excessive use of force and asked for the respect the fundamental rights and freedoms of teachers, students and unionists. EI also requested the authorities to engage in a respectful dialogue to bring about a peaceful solution, and a fair resolution of the issues and legitimate claims of their peoples.