Education International
Education International

Djibouti: teacher unionist released from prison after global support

published 18 February 2016 updated 23 February 2016

Teacher unionist and human rights defender Omar Ali Ewado is once again a free man after he was released from prison on 14 February following an appeals court decision that dismissed charges against him.

Ewado, the Deputy General Secretary of the Union of Primary School Teachers and President of the Human Rights League of Djibouti (Ligue djiboutienne des droits humains, or LDDH), began serving a three month sentence at the end of last year on trumped up charges. His arrest came on the heels of a published report detailing a list of victims who disappeared following a security forces-led massacre on 21 December, 2015.

“This dismissal of charges is a victory,” hailed Syndicat des Enseignants du Premier Degré (SEP) General Secretary Ahmed-Kadar Nour. He credited Ewado’s release to the mobilisation of Education International (EI) and its African Regional Office, the Comité Syndical Francophone de l'Education et de la Formation (CSFEF-Francophone  trade union committee  for education and training), and LabourStart.

In thanking the organisations, Nour spoke of their responsiveness, haste and constant support during the imprisonment period of “my deputy, colleague and comrade Omar”.

Thousands, including EI affiliates, signed the LabourStart petition urging public authorities to set Ewado free.

Vowing to put an end to what he called “the regime’s objective of intimidation, coercion and deprivation of freedom,” Nour deplored the imprisonments as “a handicap for freedom-defending organisations and unions”.

Although Ewado’s release is being celebrated, his imprisonment, and others like it, has left union activists uneasy and fearful of the government’s tactics.