Mahdi Abu Dheeb, the President of the Bahraini Teachers Association (BTA), has now spent more than a year behind bars for doing nothing more than leading his trade union.
His union, with the support of Education International, has launched a global petition calling on UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon to intervene in his case.
Mahdi was unjustly jailed for ten years for legitimately leading his union during the nation-wide protests of March 2011. His health continues to deteriorate and the authorities have refused him access to medical treatment.
Late last year, the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI) called for the release of all political prisoners like Mahdi - a recommendation the authorities continue to ignore. The BICI report also describes detention and torture methods that have been inflicted on Mahdi and other detainees by the authorities. On 2 April 2012, Madhi appeared before court and showed the judge clear signs of torture by electrocution. His next hearing date is 30 May 2012.
According to Amnesty International, Mahdi and Jalila al-Salman (the BTA's Vice President) appear to have been targeted solely for their leadership of the BTA and for peacefully exercising their rights to freedom of expression, association and assembly.
The Bahraini authorities have cracked down on teachers and trade unionists through arbitrary arrests, military prosecution, investigation, suspensions, dismissals, salary cuts and torture. While some workers have been reinstated in response to the global outcry, the situation remains troubling for many.
The petition is calling on the UN to press the Bahraini authorities to reinstate and compensate, all expelled and dismissed workers, particularly education workers, and release BTA president Mr.Mahdi Abu Deeb and cancel the sentences of the military court against him and his deputy Jalila Al-Salman.
For more information see:
Amnesty International (21 December 2011), Health fears for Bahraini teacher
Education International (9 December 2011) Bahrain: Drop all charges against teachers, unionists and student