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Jordanian Authorities’ Arrests Of Teachers - Structured Impeding Of Peaceful Gatherings

Geneva – The Jordanian security services' impeding of a Teachers' Syndicate (JTS) event this afternoon in the Karak governorate of southern Jordan is a confiscation of the right to express opinion and peaceful assembly, Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Monitor said today in a statement.

About 30 teachers were arrested in the town of Al-Qatraneh, including the deputy head of JTS, Nasser Al-Nawasra, and council members Kifah Abu Farhan, Abdul Salam Al-Ayasra and Ghaleb Abu Qadis, as they headed to Al-Thaniya roundabout in Karak, where the sit-in would have been held.

Eyewitnesses told Euro-Med Monitor that the security forces intensified their presence in the area, closed all roads leading to it to prevent teachers from arriving, conducted identity checks on those present in area, detained a number of teachers and took them to a nearby governorate building.

“I intended to participate in the Karak event to reject the illegal measures against the union and our right as teachers who were referred to the deposition and retirement,” teacher Alaa Abu Tarboush, a participant in the sit-in, told Euro-Med Monitor.

“But the security forces closed all the secondary roads leading to the place, and many, including me, were unable to reach the event,” he added.

The security services did not present any legal warrant upon their arrest and did not inform the detainees of the reasons for the arrest, detained JTS member, Ghaleb Abu Qadis, said in a statement Euro-Med Monitor viewed.

Apparently, the Jordanian authorities want to thwart any peaceful movement organized by JTS that demand social and union rights, in a continuation of the authorities’ policy of restricting freedoms and paralyzing civil activity.

The authorities often resort to thwarting peaceful movements away from the media spotlight. They prosecute protest organizers and participants and take steps to prevent peaceful gatherings before they begin by closing roads, restricting access to the protest locations, and deploying security teams in official and civilian clothing to control the street.

Legal researcher at the Euro-Med Monitor, Omar Al-Ajlouni, pointed out that “the Jordanian authorities' policy of besieging union activity and detaining unionists and government employees participating in the protests violates their right to freedom of expression, peaceful assembly and labor rights guaranteed in relevant local laws.”

Al-Ajlouni added that the Jordanian constitution clearly guarantees the right of individuals to exercise freedom of expression. Article 15 of the constitution states, “The State shall guarantee freedom of opinion. Every Jordanian shall be free to express his opinion by speech, in writing, or by means of photographic representation and other forms of expression, provided that such does not violate the law.”

The case of JTS escalated on July 25, 2020 after police raided JTS headquarters in Amman and 11 of its branches across the country and detained all of its council members before releasing them over a month later.

In August 2020, Euro-Med Monitor released a report documenting the Jordanian authorities’ campaign against JTS and reviewed the chronology of the ongoing conflict between both sides, leading up to the decision to close JTS on July 25, 2020.

The report also reviewed other legal violations and arrests against the unionists and the protests that took place in response to these violations.

The Jordanian government should:

  1. immediately release all of the unionists in question and respect their right to exercise their legally guaranteed union rights, primarily, the right to express opinions and the right to peaceful assembly;
  2. end the security’s heavy-handed dealing with the JTS case and resort to dialogue to end the long-standing dispute between both sides; and
  3. refrain from using the executive or judicial authority to end the movement or forcing them to abandon their demands by intimidation and restrictions.

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