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Activist arrested, beaten after criticising minister

(ANHRI/IFEX) - 18 May 2010 - The Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI) condemns the arrest of union and labor leader Mohammed Al–Sunaid, who is also the chairman of the day laborers' committee in the Jordanian Ministry of Agriculture and presenter of the radio program "Awlaad Al Balad". Al-Sunaid was taken to the state security court and charged with participating in an unlawful mob, resisting security and insulting the Minister of Agriculture while attending a lawful sit-in with a group of workers concerned about arbitrary dismissal.

Al-Sunaid and a group of workers held a sit-in at the centre for Partnership for Democracy in Madaba city in the presence of the Minister of Agriculture on 10 May 2010 in order to denounce the arbitrary dismissal from their jobs on 2 May. They carried some slogans that criticized the Minister of Agriculture. Security forces broke up the demonstration and arrested Al-Sunaid and others. Al-Sunaid was taken to a police station in Madaba city, and beaten. He was unconscious for some time, and then he was put on trial before the state security court on fabricated charges.

Al-Sunaid has a long history of defending the rights of workers in addition to serving as a presenter for the radio program "Awlaad Al Balad". The program is aimed at spreading awareness of labor laws and legislation and discussing labor issues and rights.

ANHRI says that the claims of the Jordanian government that freedom of expression is unlimited are contradictory to the detention of a media syndicate member who criticized a minister. The arrest of Al-Sunaid is aimed at silencing him, as he always defends laborers' rights against the Jordanian government's abuse of these rights. This is a dangerous violation of freedom of opinion and expression that cannot be overlooked.

ANHRI is calling on the Jordanian government to cancel this exceptional trial and drop all the fabricated charges against Al-Sunaid. It also demands that authorities open an investigation concerning the activist's beating and that they hold the perpetrators accountable.

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