Jordan: Banned union press conference the latest crackdown by government on teachers’ rights

published 27 October 2020 updated 4 November 2020

Education International condemns the banning of a Jordanian Teachers’ Association (JTA) public press conference scheduled for 26 October. The ban was imposed by Jordan’s authorities, with security forces delivering an order from the Governor of Amman to prohibit the union’s press conference. The JTA press conference was called to discuss the situation of education in Jordan and the conditions being experienced by teachers. The press conference also sought to reach out to JTA members as the organisation has been forcefully closed for two years.

The JTA’s Defence Committee informed Education International that this act is just the latest in a series of government crackdowns on freedoms. These freedoms include freedom of opinion and expression guaranteed by the country’s constitution and enshrined in international and regional human rights instruments signed and agreed by Jordan.

According to JTA, the ban on the press conference is a clear violation of the rights of all Jordanian citizens and a pretext to silence peaceful dissent.

Raids and arrests

On 24 July, the police raided the JTA headquarters in Amman and 11 of its branches across the country, closed them and arrested the 13 board members on dubious legal grounds.

On 23 August, the JTA board members were released from jail, thanks to Education International’s campaign highlighting the situation. Other contributing factors included actions taken at international level that placed significant pressure on the Jordanian authorities to release the JTA officials.

Ongoing attacks

The authorities have prevented or forcibly dispersed ongoing peaceful protests, arresting almost 500 teachers and activists. They have also issued a gagging order on all reporting about the situation, including sharing content or commenting on social media.

For the union, the government has exploited the state of emergency caused by COVID-19 to subdue public outrage over the JTA’s arbitrary closure.