Jordan’s crackdown on teachers condemned by HRW

Jordanian riot police in Amman. (AP)
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Updated 31 July 2020

Jordan’s crackdown on teachers condemned by HRW

  • Jordan’s Center for Human Rights demanded the release of teachers’ union leaders who were arrested on Saturday and called for the right to assemble to be preserved

AMMAN: Jordan’s government is facing criticism from human rights groups over its handling of a teachers’ protest in the country.
The global watchdog Human Rights Watch (HRW) and the Jordanian Center for Human Rights condemned the government’s response to the dispute shortly after teachers’ union offices were shut down and a comprehensive gag order was placed on all reporting about the situation, including on social media or sharing social media comments.
Police raided the Jordan Teachers Syndicate headquarters in Amman, shuttered 11 of its branches across the country and arrested all 13 syndicate board members on July 25.
HRW issued a statement criticizing the government’s handling of the conflict.
“Shuttering one of Jordan’s few independent labor unions following a protracted dispute with the government and on dubious legal grounds raises serious concerns about the government’s respect for the rule of law,” said Michael Page, the group’s deputy Middle East director.
“The lack of transparency and the ban on discussing this incident on social media only reinforces the conclusion that the authorities are violating citizens’ rights.”
Amjad Adaileh, minister for media affairs, told Arab News that the government respects the rights of citizens but must enforce Health Ministry orders to avoid large gatherings.
“While we can’t comment on the proceedings of the judiciary and we commit to respect whatever decision it makes, the government is also responsible for executing the general health directives and related defense orders regarding social distancing in order to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.”
Adaileh said the government will not permit any gatherings that threaten to block major traffic arteries or prevent access to essential services.
“However, we accept to help protect demonstrators who abide by health regulations and demonstrate with distance in outdoor settings.”
Jordan’s Center for Human Rights demanded the release of teachers’ union leaders who were arrested on Saturday and called for the right to assemble to be preserved.
Asma Khader, a former Jordanian government spokeswoman, told Arab News that the escalation of tensions is unfortunate.
“The right to protest and to establish a union is a constitutional right as is the right to education,” Khader said.
Protests in Amman drew global media attention amid claims that demonstrating teachers and journalists had been beaten by police.
However, local media was silent because of the official gag order.
Adam Coogle, HRW’s deputy Middle East director, told Arab News that the ban on media reporting is aimed at halting public discussion on the teachers’ union shutdown and the arrest of its leaders.
“Preventing press reporting raises questions about what the authorities may be trying to hide,” he said.


Libya’s GNA govt detains 35 Egyptian fishermen

Updated 22 min 35 sec ago

Libya’s GNA govt detains 35 Egyptian fishermen

  • The GNA is still holding the fishermen without a clear accusation to justify their detention

CAIRO: The fate of at least 35 Egyptian fishermen hangs in the balance after they were arrested by the Tripoli-based Government of National Accord (GNA) on Nov. 2 last year.  

The families of the fishermen have appealed to the Egyptian government to step up their efforts to secure their freedom as Cairo has been working on their release since November.

Little is known about the fate of the fishermen in Libya other than their location, after it was leaked to Egyptian authorities that they were held in the Turmina Prison, which is affiliated with the GNA.

The head of the Fishermen’s Syndicate in Kafr El-Sheikh, Ahmed Nassar, said they had not been able to communicate with the fishermen since last November and after their disappearance they came to learn that the GNA authorities had detained them.

The GNA is still holding the fishermen without a clear accusation to justify their detention. Nassar said that the fishermen were not fishing in Libyan territory without a permit.

Nassar explained that the fishermen were working on Libyan boats. Alongside them were a number of colleagues working on boats that belong to the Al-Wefaq government. They were not approached by anyone unlike their detained colleagues who were arrested and sent to prison without being charged with any crime.

The Fishermen’s Syndicate chief said that people had called on the Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs as well as the government, and the consular section had also been contacted about the matter.

Many of the detained fishermen come from Kafr El-Sheikh, while others come from Abu Qir in the governorate of Alexandria.

The fishermen had been supporting families of up to eight members.

Egyptian authorities say they are exerting great efforts to bring the fishermen back safely, while the fishermen’s families continue to demand safety and justice for the men.