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Iran Press TV

Jordan exploiting coronavirus pandemic to quell protests against opposition crackdown: HRW

Iran Press TV

Thursday, 27 August 2020 4:23 PM

Human Rights Watch (HRW) says Jordanian authorities are taking advantage of the coronavirus pandemic to suppress ongoing public protests against the detention of leading members of the opposition-run teachers' union.

"The Jordanian government, despite promises to the contrary, is exploiting the state of emergency to crack down on public outrage over the arbitrary government closure of the Teachers' Syndicate," Michael Page, deputy director in the Middle East and North Africa division at the New York-based rights organization, said on Thursday.

He added, "Jordan should not use the pandemic as a pretext to repress expressions of public concern over these arbitrary measures."

HRW called on the Amman government to immediately lift its ban on public protests and protect Jordanians' right to free assembly in line with public health concerns.

It also urged Jordanian authorities to release anyone held arbitrarily in administrative detention and revise the law to end such abusive practice.

"Jordan's public health justification for banning all protests is a transparent pretext to silence peaceful dissent, but this crackdown could actually spark broader outrage against authorities' abusive decisions," Page said.

Last week, HRW condemned Jordanian authorities over a sweeping gag order, harassment and arrests to limit media coverage of public protests.

The Jordanian government on July 25 arrested leaders of the 100,000-strong union, raided its offices and suspended its activity for two years, in what was considered a major crackdown on a group that has become a leading source of dissent.

Prosecutors charged Nasser Nawasreh, the acting head of the syndicate, with incitement as well as financial and administrative wrongdoing.

The Jordanian Teachers Syndicate went on strike last year, and closed its offices across the country for a month.

In recent weeks, its leaders have accused the government of failing to stand committed to a deal struck last October that ended the strike.

The agreement included a 50 percent pay rise this year, which authorities now say cannot afford due to the economic fallout of the coronavirus pandemic.

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