Stripping perceived opposition supporters of their jobs would mark an expansion of the crackdown by targeting people’s livelihoods as a warning to others not to return to the streets.
The New York-based rights group said more than 2,000 workers and union activists were dismissed from jobs at government ministries, schools, hospitals and firms that include the state-run Bahrain Petroleum Company.
“The dismissals may have violated Bahraini labor laws as well as international standards, in particular those prohibiting discrimination on the basis of political opinion,” the rights group said in a statement calling on Bahraini authorities to investigate and reinstate unlawfully dismissed workers.
Human Rights Watch also said Bahrain’s Education Ministry has fired 111 employees since April and the government also disbanded the Teachers Association.
Last month, the Geneva-based International Labor Organization sharply criticized the dismissal of workers and urged Bahrain to reinstate them.
In May, a major U.S.-based labor group asked Washington to suspend a free trade pact with Bahrain in response to the purging of union leaders accused of supporting pro-reform protests.
Bahrain’s Shiites account for about 70 percent of the kingdom’s population, but they claim systematic discrimination, including being blocked from top military and political posts. Their revolt in February – inspired by other Arab uprisings around the region – has been by far the biggest domestic challenge to any Gulf ruler in decades.
At least 32 people have died and hundreds of protesters, opposition activists and Shiite professionals like doctors and lawyers have been detained during five months of demonstrations and crackdowns. Dozens of them have been tried in a special security tribunal, including eight prominent opposition figures who were convicted of anti-state crimes last month and sentenced to life imprisonment.
The so-called national dialogue began July 2. Earlier this week, the delegates of the main opposition party, Al-Wefaq, threatened to pull out of talks because they said the government is not willing to discuss political reform.
Read more: http://www.dailystar.com.lb/News/Middle-East/2011/Jul-16/Human-rights-groups-push-Bahrain-to-investigate-worker-dismissals.ashx#ixzz1SDwINPLH
(The Daily Star :: Lebanon News :: http://www.dailystar.com.lb)