20 seconds for Bahrain…
I thought I’d start my first stronger unions blog by highlighting a union that is about to get a lot weaker if we don’t urgently speak up for them: the Bahraini Teachers’ Association (BTA).
The Bahraini government has left their leaders – Jalila al-Salman, and Mahdi ‘Issa Mahdi Abu – to rot in jail ever since arresting them, along with other union members back in March during the popular uprisings. Jalila began a hunger strike in protest at her continued incarceration on 3 August 2011.
Amnesty International concluded, after their usual forensic rigour, that Jalila and Mahdi:
are likely to be prisoners of conscience, detained solely for exercising their legitimate rights to freedom of expression, association and assembly as leading members of the BTA.
It is a tactic that the government have applied across the country, sacking some 2000 workers, jailing many and trying to dismantle the union movement.
Educational International have launched an urgent action appeal calling for their release. Signing it will probably be the best 20 seconds you spend all week. They are in serious trouble. And Bahrain is home one of the very few strong and independent union movements in the region, and one that unites workers across religious boundaries – at least for now.
We also need to speak up because others deliberately aren’t. While the UK Government is quick to attack Syria, and rightly so, it is painfully silent on Bahrain, presumably the price it is paying for securing the Saudi green light for its intervention into Libya (the Saudi’s have heavily back the Bahraini government). So time to spend those 20 seconds…