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Bahrain: Harassed Bahraini teacher unionist awarded significant international Prize

The 2015 Arthur Svensson Prize to leaders of Bahrain Teachers Association

For the sixth consecutive year Norwegian unions award the ArthurSvensson International Price for Trade Union Rights. The priceprovides powerful recognition

of the work that the prize winnersdo, in countries where union work all too often is dangerous. Theprize money amounts to NOK 500 000, -

Imprisoned and tortured for encouraging strike

The 2015 Arthur Svensson Prize is awarded to the BahrainTeachers Association (BTA) by leader Mahdi Abu Dheeb and deputyJalila al-Salman. They were imprisoned in 2011, tortured andhumiliated because they encouraged strikes among teachers.

The leader Mahdi Abu Dheeb was in 2011 sentenced to five yearsin prison. His health condition worsens steadily. He does notreceive essential and critical medical aid.

Jalila al-Salman was released after nearly six months inprison, but still suffers from a job ban and restrictions on herrights to speech.

Outside the spotlight

Freedom of expression and freedom of association are suppressedin The Kingdom of Bahrain. The people is denied basic rights.Opposition against the Government is cracked down. Publicemployees, especially within health, education and municipalitieshave the last years been suspended or fired on suspicion ofpolitical acitivity. Several have been arrested, and there havebeen torture-related deaths in prison.

This has especially affected teachers and their union. Theteachers union was "dissolved" by the government. Government keepsan iron hand to control teachers and students, damaging democracy,which also leads to weaken educational institutions and underminepeople's right to learn. This is ongoing outside media attentionand in the dark of the world spotlight.

Mahdi Abu Dheeb and deputy Jalila al-Salman are also listed onAmnesty International list of convictions prisoners.

Recognition of their struggle for trade union rights

The Arthur Svensson committee and the Norwegian labour movementbelieve it is important to reinforce the spotlight on theconditions that teachers and students in Bahrain are sufferingunder.

The committee also underline the importance of their strugglefor basic trade union rights in a very suppressing regime.

In 2013 The Rafto Prize was awarded to The Bahrain Centre forHuman Rights. Malala Yousafzai was in 2014 awarded the Nobel PeacePrize for her fearless fight for the importance of school andeducation.

Now, in 2015, representatives of the teaching profession inBahrain receive the Arthur Svensson Prize from the Norwegian labourmovement.

For further comments, please contact:

Leif Sande, president of Industri Energi/head of Arthur Svenssoncommittee, mob: + 47 90 11 07 01

Ragnhild Lied, president of Union of Education Norway, mob: + 4790 01 80 28

Petter Aaslestad, president of The Norwegian Association ofResearchers, mob: + 47 91 52 05 35

Anne Finborud, president of the Norwegian Union of SchoolEmployees, mob: + 47 99 35 60 60

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