Freedom of speech in Bahrain
Sir, – On foot of your paper’s excellent article by Mary Fitzgerald (“Why Bahraini human rights matter in Dublin”, Education Today, May 8th). We write to help broaden the issue to include the plight of the many teachers, academics and students who face charges related to exercising their basic rights to freedom of speech and right of assembly during the recent pro-democracy rallies in the Kingdom of Bahrain.
In particular, we wish to address the vicious treatment of both the president and vice-president of the Bahraini Teachers Association. Recently, they were sentenced by a military court following their support for the rights of their unions’ members to take part in the pro-democracy demonstrations. Both men have been subjected to torture during their period of detention and while the matter has now been referred to the Bahraini Supreme Court, their hearing has been postponed on four occasions without explanation, the most recent on May 2nd. Mahdi Abu Dheeb is still in detention and his health is suffering as a result.
Ireland can and should support academic and business endeavours in the Gulf, but, equally must take a stand when civil and human rights are abused by the authorities in these states.
We call on the Bahrain authorities to: 1. Grant Mahdi Abu Dheeb the right to bail in accordance with international human rights law; 2. Respect the right to freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly; 3. Implement, without delay, all the recommendations made by the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry, BICI; 4. Drop the suspension of all teachers and academics; 5. Reinstate the teachers dismissed and the students expelled, as well as restore their salaries and scholarships. – Yours, etc,