In April 2011, Mahdi Abu Dheeb, a school teacher in Bahrain and then president of union the Bahrain Teachers' Association, was arrested for encouraging members of the union to strike.

Along with his colleague Jalila al-Salman, Mahdi proposed a teachers' strike to support widespread protests at the time, calling for governmental reform. Both Mahdi and Jalila were arrested soon after.

Jalila was freed a couple of years ago, but Mahdi remains in prison. He is a prisoner of conscience.

Tortured in detention

Mahdi was arrested at his uncle’s house on 6 April 2011. He was taken for interrogation by police to a secret location: his family didn’t know where he was for over three weeks.

Mahdi was then subjected to 64 days in solitary confinement. According to the UN, subjecting to more than 15 consecutive days in isolation amounts to torture.

When he was interrogated, Mahdi says the police beat him. Mahdi’s daughter, Maryam, told us that her father had two broken ribs and was suffering from severe neck and back pain when she saw him after his time in detention.

Charged with attempting to overthrow the system

After Mahdi and Jalila had called for their union to strike, they were arrested by Bahraini police on charges including

  • Halting the educational process
  • Inciting hatred of the regime
  • Attempting to overthrow the ruling system by force
  • Possessing pamphlets
  • Disseminating fabricated stories and information.

We have never seen any evidence of these charges being true.

Mahdi and Jalila were tried before a military court in September 2011. They were found guilty, and Mahdi sentenced to 10 years in prison – which was reduced to five years after an appeal. Mahdi has already served half of his reduced sentence.

Jalila was dealt a three year sentence, later reduced to six months. She was released in November 2012.

Prisoner of conscience

Because he is in jail solely for expressing an opinion, Mahdi is a prisoner of conscience.

Mahdi is not in jail for criminal activity. He is imprisoned because he exercised his right to speak freely, and his right to freedom of assembly. All of us should be able to peacefully demonstrate with others as part of a democracy, to express our views and raise issues that are important to us.

There is no evidence that Mahdi or Jalila ever called for violent protests, or used violent tactics themselves.

What we want to see

We are calling on Bahrain to release Mahdi immediately and unconditionally.

In addition, we are also calling for

  • Medical treatment for Mahdi. Mahdi sustained serious injuries while in detention, including broken ribs. His daughter says that the prison authorities have played ‘a cat and mouse game’ in allowing him treatment he urgently needs.
  • A full investigation into Mahdi’s claims that he was tortured in police custody. We want authorities in Bahrain to investigate Mahdi’s allegations of torture and ill-treatment, and bring those responsible to justice.

If you would prefer to write to the authorities instead, please direct all appeal to Bahrain's Ambassador to the UK, care of Amnesty UK. We'll collect all of your appeal letters and petition signatures and hand them in via a delegation of Amnesty, TUC and teaching union representatives.

Feel free to write your own message, or download our template letter below.

Template letter to the Bahraini Ambassador to the UK (Word)

Please address all appeals to:

H.E. Miss Alice Samaan
Embassy of the Kingdom of Bahrain, London
c/o Amnesty International UK
Amnesty International UK Section
The Human Rights Action Centre
17 - 25 New Inn Yard
London
EC2A 3EA