The NASUWT, the largest teachers’ union in the UK, has today presented its International Solidarity Award to Mahdi Abu Dheeb, President of the Bahrain Teachers’ Association (BTA), at its Annual Conference in Manchester.
The award was presented to Mr Abu Dheeb in recognition of his commitment to fighting for the rights of teachers and for quality education in Bahrain.
Mr Abu Dheeb was released last year after being imprisoned in 2011 by the Bahraini authorities for simply exercising his right to freedom of assembly and demanding reforms to Bahrain’s educational system.
While in prison Mr Abu Dheeb was subjected to repeated abuse and torture.
The NASUWT worked closely with the BTA and other partners, including Amnesty International and Education International, to press for Mahdi’s release and to call on the Bahraini authorities to respect human and trade union rights.
Chris Keates, General Secretary of the NASUWT, said:
“Mahdi has faced years of repression, violence and the loss of his liberty simply for standing up for the rights of teachers and challenging the ruling orthodoxy.
“His story is a stark reminder that trade unionists around the world continue to be targeted in their fight for freedom of expression, social justice and human rights.
“Despite all that he has suffered, he continues to bravely defend human and trade union rights. His courage and determination is an inspiration.
“The NASUWT is continuing to work with the BTA to ensure that the rights of teachers and children from all backgrounds in Bahrain are respected equally and that trade unions are able to represent their members without fear of attack or repression.
“We are delighted to offer Madhi our continued solidarity by presenting him with this award.”
Mahdi Abu Dheeb said:
“Six years ago I was arrested for calling for a strike to protect our teachers, our children, our schools in Bahrain.
“As prisoners we knew we had solidarity from all over the world. One of the first organisations which I knew supported me and worked for me was the NASUWT.
“When you know that people from the UK are supporting you, you never feel alone…and that makes you stronger and that is what happened to me and my colleagues.
“The way the NASUWT supported me made the concepts of solidarity, of democracy, of freedom, something tangible that we could touch and feel.
“I am very thankful to be here today.”
NASUWT Press Office contacts:
Ben Padley 07785 463 119
Lena Davies 07867 392 746
Simon Houltby 07920 711 069
Notes to editors
Pictures of Mahdi receiving his award are attached. Credit Ian Littlewood. Caption should read: L to R Fred Brown, NASUWT President, Mahdi Abu Dheeb, BTA President, Patrick Roach, NASUWT Deputy General Secretary
The NASUWT’s Annual Conference is being held at Manchester Central from 14-17 April.
The NASUWT International Solidarity Award recognises the bravery and commitment of individuals and organisations around the world who work to promote human rights and to defend the rights of teachers.
The Award highlights and celebrates the commitment of individuals to trade union values of solidarity, equality and democracy, and challenging violence, injustice, bigotry and hatred.
Previous recipients of the International Solidarity Award are:
· Aung San Suu Kyi (2012)
· Jalila al Salman (2013)
· Ahmed Jassam Salih (2014)
· Korean Teachers Union (2015)
· Egitim Sen (2016)
The NASUWT’s National Executive has adopted seven guiding principles for conferring the Award to individuals whose contribution is to:
(i) Defending human rights
(ii) Defending trade union rights of teachers
(iii) Working for quality education
(iv) Demonstrating values of solidarity, equality and democracy
(vi) Challenging violence, injustice, bigotry and hatred
(vii) Working in countries outside the UK.