Each year in early December, Amnesty International activists and friends gather to write letters on behalf of human rights defenders around the world as a way to commemorate International Human Rights Day (December 10). Cases include Jalila al-Salman & Mahdi Abu Dheeb, teachers detained for supporting pro-reform efforts in Bahrain,
Jalila al-Salman and Mahdi ‘Issa Mahdi Abu Dheeb, former vice-president and president of the Bahrain Teachers' Association, were detained in March after their association reportedly supported a teachers' strike amid widescale pro-reform protests in Bahrain. Jalila (photo left) was reportedly held in solitary confinement and subjected to beatings for several days. She was released on bail in August, but Mahdi Abu Dheeb remains detained. Jalila al-Salman and Mahdi Abu Dheeb were sentenced by a military court in September 2011 to prison terms of 3 years and 10 years, respectively. They had been charged with a variety of offenses, including "inciting hatred towards the regime," "calling to overthrow and change the regime by force," "calling on parents not to send their children to school," and "calling on teachers to stop working and participate in strikes and demonstrations." Amnesty International believes they may have been arrested solely for exercising their right to freedom of expression and association.
According to local human rights organizations, many teachers and members of the BTA were detained, harassed and tortured or otherwise ill-treated in detention for their participation in protests earlier this year. At least 500 people have been detained in Bahrain since pro-reform protests began in February, and four have died in custody on suspicious circumstances. More than 2,500 people have been dismissed or suspended from work.If you ever loved a teacher, this is the action for you! The Pasadena chapter of Amnesty will hold its Write-a-thon on Saturday, Dec. 10, any time between 9 AM - 4 PM at Zephyr Café, 2419 E. Colorado Blvd in Pasadena (626-793-7330). Please join us to send cards to victims of human-rights abuses like the Bahraini teachers, but also to engage in friendly conversation and enjoy the delicious food at Zephyr Café. If you don't live in the area or can't make it, check the AIUSA website to find an event near you or to download letter-writing instructions to use on your own.