Photo: Security forces crackdown on schools, one way of how teachers were arrested in March

5 October 2011 “Since 1994 World Teachers’ Day is celebrated on 5 October. It is an opportunity for UNESCO and Education International to celebrate the profession and to promote international standards for the teaching profession.” – UNESCO[1] World Teachers Day is an opportunity to appreciate the dedication and contributions of teachers worldwide. However in Bahrain, teachers are treated otherwise by being targeted and attacked for practicing their basic rights such as going on strike in solidarity with the demands of the pro-democracy movement. Since March 2011, hundreds of teachers have been detained, tortured, dismissed and subjected to unfair transfers from their schools[2].

Bahrain’s Teachers Association President and VP, sentenced by military court to 10 and 3 years' imprisonment.

It started with the dissolving of the Bahrain’s Teachers Association which acts as a teachers union. The authorities raided the house of the president, Mahdi Abu Deeb, at dawn and when they failed to find him they interrogated his wife and children. He was arrested on April 6th in a brutal manner as he was dropped from the roof of his uncle's house when security forces found him. Jaleela Al Salman, the Vice President of BTA, was arrested on 29th March in a home raid that frightened her kids. The next day more members of the Board of Directors in the BTA were arrested. On 25 Sep 2011 a military court sentenced Mahdi Abu Deeb to 10 years' imprisonment and Jaleela Al Salman to 3 years' imprisonment. At least 5 more members of Bahrain teachers association are waiting a trial on Oct 11 (Sana Abdulrazag, Ghusoon Alsayed, Afrah Alasfoor, Ali Albana , Salah Albarry) The crackdown was not only targeted towards BTA members as more than 100 teachers have been arrested since March, 70% of them female teachers. They have all been through severe torture, humiliation and were cursed at by security forces. More than 150 teachers were sacked from their jobs and dozens were suspended by the Ministry of Education after undergoing investigations where they were humiliated and provoked. 100s of teachers were either not paid for months or were subjected to salary cuts. Many others have been summoned for military trials. Dozens have been subjected to a sudden unreasonable transfer from their schools to other schools in different areas. All decisions made are of a discriminatory nature against those consisting of the opposition, most who are Shiaa Muslims. The Ministry of Education's sectarian campaign has not stopped since March, as some teachers are currently awaiting trials, many are suspended and others are suffering from salary cuts monthly for no reason. The educational level in Bahraini schools is deteriorating, as the authorities are depriving students from hundreds of experienced and dedicated teachers who worked hard towards developing generations to come for the prosperity of the country. Today they are being treated unjustly and are replaced by unqualified teachers. BCHR demands an end to the violations against teachers in Bahrain by: • Canceling all trials that will be held • Dropping false charges against teachers • Revoking sentences made by military trials on civilians in a breach to their right in due process. • Investigation in the allegation of torture and bringing those responsible in it to justice. • Immediately releasing all detained teachers • Immediately reinstating all teachers to their jobs and stopping salary cuts, suspensions and unfair transfers. • Respecting international obligations with regard to human rights, specially right to assembly and freedom of expression.  Stories of Teachers Sufferings:

Jaleela Al Salman is a 46 year old mother of 3. She has served in the Educational sector for 24 years. She is well known for her dedication, hard work and involvement in many activities and initiatives targeted towards the enhancement of the educational sector. She has been jailed for 5 months after her home was raided by more than 15 security forces. Jaleela was subjected to torture, she explains: “I was in solitary confinement; it was very, very dirty. The walls were covered in dried blood. There was a hook hanging off the ceiling. There were no windows. I was forced to stand for almost all of the time.” She adds “Every five minutes someone would come inside my cell. I was not allowed to lie down or even to go to the toilet or have water. Because of that I had to be treated for kidney problems.” Ms. Al Salman has been sentenced to 3 years’ imprisonment and is in fear of being arrested at anytime for demanding freedom and democracy in Bahrain[3].

Ms. K is one of the teachers who were arrested from their workplace. She says that on the day of her arrest, police were everywhere in the school, going to classes lead by pro-government students who pointed out students and teachers from the opposition who were to be arrested[4]. She was called to the administration and taken from there to the police station where she was tortured and humiliated. Ms. K says that her hands were tied from the back and her eyes blind folded before they started beating and cursing her to make her confess of things she did not do. She was detained for sometime before being released only after the authorities ensured there were no torture marks on her body. However she is still treating her leg as it has not healed yet.

Hajer Khairullah is a teacher with 22 years of experience who was dismissed from work without being notified of the reason behind the dismissal. Instead of letting this affect her emotionally and psychologically, she took matters into her own hand. She invested in growing plants, which was a long hobby of hers, describing the growing process as similar to that of witnessing the growth of generations of students, saying they both need patience and care. Hajer always had a love for plants, but she mentions that since her dismissal she was drawn to growing them as they gave her hope and she saw them as a symbol of challenging the darkness. She explains that those dismissed must invest in working on effective projects, especially since they were of the best in their work and had many contributions to the Ministry of Education. She was surprised to find that the MOE dismissed those the most dedicated to teaching, describing that they were thrown away like a piece of useless garbage[5]. Read more: EI: Bahrain: EI demands release of teacher leader on hunger strike AMNESTY: Bahrain teachers given jail sentences HRW: Bahrain: Reinstate Ousted Students, Faculty BCHR: Bahrain regime continues targeting students and teachers BCHR: Teachers ordeal in Bahrain: arrested, tortured, sacked, suspended and prosecuted BCHR: Urgent Appeal: Teacher Unionist's Life at Risk in Bahraini Prison One woman’s story of the terror stalking Bahrain [1] [2] [3] One woman’s story of the terror stalking Bahrain [4] [5]