Jordan arrests 1,000 teachers as government crackdown on trade union using coronavirus restriction measures

Jordan arrests 1,000 teachers as government crackdown on trade union using coronavirus restriction measures
In the past few weeks the Jordanian government has launched a campaign members of the country's largest teachers' union.
2 min read
19 August, 2020
A woman raises a Jordanian national flag as she stands amidst public school teachers [Getty]

Jordanian authorities have arrested an estimated 1,000 teachers in a brutal crackdown, using coronavirus lockdown tactics to do so.

The arrests have been occurring in the past couple of weeks as the kingdom cracks down on the largest independent trade union, called the Jordan Teachers’ Syndicate, the Guardian reports.

The union, which had all its branches shut down by the police for two years, boasts 100,000 members who appear to have been targeted by law enforcement in the recent arrests.

Its 13 elected council members were arrested on charges not revealed to the public, and emergency laws passed by the government in order to curb the spread of coronavirus are being used to detain thousands of teachers who have taken to the streets to protest, the union’s legal representatives revealed.

“All orders were issued by prosecutor general who are members of the judicial authority and they practise their jurisdiction independently as per the law and constitution,” said Amjad Adayleh, the government’s spokesman, in a statement to the Guardian.

Asem Al-Omari, a lawyer advising the Teachers’ Syndicate said the government was anticipating financial problems related to covid-19 and its impact on the economy, and were using the arrests as a pre-emptive for political opposition.

He said: “If you face a minefield, it’s better to explode them separately, instead of having them all explode at the same time.”

Police crackdown on protesters

Last week Jordanian police detained teachers who continued their protests over lack of provisions and not honouring a pay-rise deal brokered last year.

Rallies took place on Sunday in Irbid, Mafraq, Ajloun and Tafila, and in front of Husseini Mosque in the capital city.

Police were reported to be exceptionally violent in Irbid, attacking teachers and making arrests.

Among the those detained was teacher Waqed al-Omari, who appeared in a picture handcuffed.

Activists on social media shared a previous photo of him and demanded the resignation of Prime Minister Omar Razzaz.

Authorities also arrested Anadolu Agency’s Jordan correspondent Laith al-Junaidi before he was released hours later.

The head of the Center for the Protection and Freedom of Journalists, Nidal Mansour urged the media ministry to protect journalists.

Teachers in Jordan have for long complained of a lack of provisions and police violence when protesting. After agreeing with the government for a payment bonus, Amman backtracked, blaming coronavirus.

The teachers' strike was one of the most hard-hitting strike actions taken by the public sector in years.

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