A Bahrain appeals court upheld verdicts against two teachers on Sunday for organizing a teachers' strike early last year to support anti-government protests [JURIST news archive]. At their first hearing in front of a military tribunal, the pair were convicted of using their positions as vice-president and president of the Bahrain Teachers' Association (BTA) to attempt to overthrow the Bahraini government through a teachers' strike that halted the educational process and "incited hatred" against the regime. No evidence [AI backgrounder] has been presented that they used or advocated violence of any means. Mahdi 'Issa Mahdi Abu Dheeb was sentenced to five years in prison while Jalila al-Salman was given a six-month sentence. Abu Dheeb has been detained for 18 months. Al-Salman was in confinement for five months but was released on bail. However, al-Salman has alleged torture while being detained.
Amnesty International (AI) [advocacy website] considers both prisoners of conscience as long as they are detained and has called for their convictions to be overturned [press release]. The pair plan to appeal to the Bahrain Court of Cassation.
Bahrain has faced international criticism for its crackdown against dissidents since anti-government protests began last year. Last week Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] urged Bahrain's court of appeals to overturn [press release] the conviction of human right advocate Nabeel Rajab [JURIST news archive]. HRW contends that there is no evidence of Rajab participating in violence and that his conviction is a violation of his right to peaceful assembly. Earlier this month the Bahrain Court of Cassation upheld jail sentences [JURIST report] for nine medics convicted for their involvement in Bahrain's pro-democracy uprisingAccording to BNA, the medics were working at Salmaniya Medical Complex [official website], and, during the time of the uprising, "took over the complex, detained and imprisoned kidnapped persons, and transformed the hospital to a place of illegal gathering and strikes, in violation of laws." Last month government officials pledged to fulfill [JURIST report] the 158 recommendations included in the UN Universal Periodic Review [materials] regarding human rights abuses against political opposition. HRW called on Bahrain to follow through with their promises, but raised doubts as to whether the government is fully committed to reform.