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Report: 1,000 teachers arrested in Jordan union crackdown

Jordanian police close the streets reaching to area of the prime minister's office on 29 July, 2020 in Amman, Jordan [Jordan PIx/Getty Images]
Jordanian police in Amman, Jordan on 29 July, 2020 [Jordan PIx/Getty Images]

Approximately 1,000 teachers in Jordan have been arrested in a crackdown on the country's Teachers' Syndicate since the union was shuttered by the authorities last month, a report by the Guardian claims.

Jordanian security forces, according to estimations by lawyers cited in the report, have targeted and arrested nearly 1,000 union members who protested the closure order.

Demonstrations started last month after the police closed the Teachers' Syndicate's offices across Jordan, barred the union from operating for two years and arrested 13 of the organisation's elected council.

Jordanian officials have claimed the closure was an independent decision made by the judiciary over alleged financial crimes committed by the union's leadership.

However, some observers have said the closure order could be seen as part of a wider crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood, which was officially banned in Jordan a week before the Teachers' Syndicate was shuttered.

READ: Jordan to isolate city near Syria after coronavirus spike

According to sources cited by the Guardian, the Teachers' Syndicate leader and approximately a third of the elected council are thought to be members of the Jordanian Muslim Brotherhood.

The union, which boasts 100,000 members, is one of the largest and most diverse in the country, representing Jordanian and Palestinian teachers from all walks of life.

However, the union's large size and nationwide reach has made the Jordanian government wary of the group's ability to organise mass protests.

Prior to the global coronavirus pandemic, the union had successfully protested in favour of a wage increase for teachers.

The pay rise, however, was frozen by the government in April as Jordan went into total lockdown. The union was reportedly preparing to renew protests, calling on the government to reverse the decision.

Meanwhile, Human Rights Watch (HRW) has said it has concerns the Jordanian security forces have used emergency laws, ostensibly passed to help the government combat coronavirus, as a shield to crackdown on dissidents and journalists.

Michael Page, HRW's deputy Middle East director, termed Jordan's crackdown a "cynical exploitation of arbitrary measures such as gag orders and arrests" and warned the country would not be able to resolve the existing economic and political problems by repressing dissent.

READ: Jordan delays resuming international flights after COVID-19 surge abroad

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