The NASUWT, the largest teachers’ union in the UK, has congratulated the leaders of the Bahrain Teachers Association (BTA) who have been awarded the 2015 Arthur Svensson Prize in recognition of their fight to organise and represent the interest of teachers in the face of extreme repression from the Bahraini authorities.
Mahdi Abu Dheeb, President of the BTA and Jalila al-Salman, Vice President, have been named the 2015 winners of the annual prize today by Norwegian trade unions in recognition of their struggle for trade union rights.
Mahdi will receive his award in absentia as he continues to be detained by the Bahraini authorities for his trade union activities. He has been in prison for over four years where he has suffered repeated abuse and torture.
The NASUWT has been campaigning for Mahdi’s freedom and to secure respect for trade union rights in Bahrain, working closely with Jalila, who was herself imprisoned for six months and still suffers from restrictions on her freedom of speech and employment.
Chris Keates, General Secretary of the NASUWT, said:
“The NASUWT warmly congratulates the BTA on this award. It is a much deserved recognition of its immense contribution to the fight for free and fair trade unions and to securing quality education for children and young people in Bahrain
“This award will help to maintain the pressure on the Bahraini authorities to end their completely unjustified detention of Mahdi, who has spent the last four years in prison on false charges for simply exercising his right to freedom of assembly and demanding reforms to Bahrain’s educational system.”
Dr Patrick Roach, Deputy General Secretary of the NASUWT, said:
“Despite the attempts to silence and repress them, the courage and commitment to justice, equality and democracy shown by Mahdi, Jalila and the membership of the BTA has never faltered and today’s award is just recognition of their strength.
“The NASUWT denounces without reservation the unacceptable treatment, abuse and continued torture of Mahdi by the Bahrain authorities.
“The NASUWT will not rest until Mahdi is released and teachers in Bahrain have the right to organise their union without interference or intimidation.”
Notes to editors
2015 marks the sixth annual Arthur Svensson International Price for Trade Union Rights which is awarded by Norwegian trade unions. The prize provides recognition of the work that the prize winners do in countries where union work all too often is dangerous.
The prize ceremony took place in Oslo this morning and was attended by Jalila al-Salman.
More information on the prize can be found at http://www.svenssonprize.com/archive/the-2015-arthur-svensson-prize-to-leaders-of-bahrain-teachers-association/
The NASUWT presented Jalila al-Salman with its International Solidarity Award at its Annual Conference in 2013.