Mon Sep 26, 2011
A military court in Bahrain has sentenced the head of the country’s Teachers Association to ten years in prison and his deputy to three for supporting anti-government protests.
Union chairman Mehdi Issa Mohammed Abu Deeb and his deputy Jalila Mohammed Reza al-Salman were convicted on Sunday by the court of national safety of “inciting hatred of the [Persian] Gulf kingdom’s monarchy and calling for its overthrow during protests earlier this year”.
They were also found guilty of using the union to “instigate acts that are considered criminal like calling for sit-ins by teachers, obstructing teaching, holding protests near schools… and calling upon parents not to send their children to school,” Bahraini human rights activist Maryam al-Khawaja wrote in an e-mail to Press TV.
Abu Deeb, 49, who was arrested in April, started a hunger strike on September 11 to demand his release and for all false charges against him to be dropped. Abu Deeb, who suffers from diabetes and high blood pressure, is reported to be in critical health condition.
The court also sentenced Hadi Ahmeh Hasan Mekki to three years in prison for “witnessing an attack on two policemen and refusing to report the incident” as well as an additional 12 months in jail for attending anti-regime protests.
Three others were also jailed for three years for harboring Shaikh Mohammed Habib Al Saffaf, a clergyman. Al Saffaf, also known Al Meqdad, who was earlier sentenced to life imprisonment, is accused by the Manama regime of involvement in a plot to overthrow the monarchy.
The verdicts came a day after the kingdom held by-elections boycotted by the opposition to replace 18 lawmakers, who resigned from the parliament to protest the violent crackdown on anti-regime demonstrators.
On April 7, the Ministry of Social Development dissolved the Bahrain Teachers’ Association (BTA), accusing the union of “issuing statements and speeches aimed at inciting teachers and students against the government and disrupting educational establishments.
Bahrainis have been holding anti-government rallies since mid-February, demanding an end to the Al Khalifa dynasty’s 40-year rule.
Scores of people have been killed and hundreds more have been arrested in the brutal crackdown on peaceful protesters in Bahrain, home to a huge American military installation for the US Navy’s Fifth Fleet in the Persian Gulf.