Jordan's hottest week of the year didn't only witness boiling temperatures, but also streets. As thousands of Jordanian teachers took to the streets protesting a government surprising decision to close their syndicate for two years and arresting board members. More surprising was the complete absence of local reporting on protests which shocked Jordanian commentators.
The Jordanian Government has arrested members of the Jordanian Teacher's Union last Saturday as part of suppressing its opponents who demanding reform and social justice..... Police ended this teachers peaceful demonstration by force! #مع_المعلم pic.twitter.com/uv2b9WjIht— Mahmoud Al Hweitat (@mahmoudhweitat) July 29, 2020
Hours before the teachers' protest was supposed to assemble near the prime minister's office in Amman, anti-riot police flooded the nearby streets and blocked roads leading to the protest's planned location. Consequently, organizers sent an online call for teachers to group in a close-by area.
Police forces continued to push protesters away and reportedly beat and arrested about 300 participants for several hours and only released them after the protesters left.
journalist, Omar Akour, was also beaten on the head with a club, despite telling police he was a journalist, Akour fell to the ground after being struck, where another policeman kicked him. Police smashed his cellphone, destroying the footage he filmed.https://t.co/NQDkwSeFcp— Daoud Kuttab داود كُتّاب (@daoudkuttab) July 30, 2020
| @AP reporting on #Jordan's protests in @washingtonpost:— Fadi Al-Qadi (@fqadi) July 29, 2020
"Jordanian Police beat and arrest protesting teachers... Clad with clubs, police beat some of the protesters, several of whom fell to the ground.."pic.twitter.com/PdVHg9DLlf
(Video via @alurdunyya) https://t.co/a9fD2Bftmu
Yet, social media users pointed at the complete absence of local media outlets, which didn't report any news related to the demonstration. Most international media, however, had covered it despite police attempts to remove all photos and footage taken by journalists.
Foreign media outlets are talking about the teachers protest in Jordan while local media outlets aren’t. This is what happens when the state controls the media and intimidates and threatens independent writers/journalists/platforms #مع_المعلم pic.twitter.com/haAVMhNkFe— Samar Saeed/سمر سعيد (@Samarsaeed) July 30, 2020
Translation: "Al Mamalaka and Roya TV have been banned from covering teachers' protests today under threat of prosecution."
Translation: "They did everything so the world doesn't get to see this. Now this is a headline in the US biggest newspaper"
Despite a government warning of "groupings of more than 20 people" citing Coronavirus restrictions prior to the demonstration, many social media users noted that a similar government approach was taken last September when teachers had called for a protest to announce a month-long strike in demand of salary-increases; suggesting that "it has nothing to do with COVID-19 and that the government doesn't tolerate strong civil society organizations voicing out public demands."
The teachers' latest protest came only days after a government crackdown against teachers' syndicate citing "financial corruption and affiliation with illegal entities."
#Jordan‘s closure of the Teacher’s Union and the harsh crackdown that followed reflect just how insecure the Jordanian gov has become when faced with opposition. Yesterday’s shameful show of power by the police against protesting teachers confirms this. https://t.co/LRQDcrEpHI pic.twitter.com/EsuD6AUbES— Sara Kayyali (@skayyali1) July 30, 2020
Several local analysts have argued that the real motive behind the crackdown is "to teach the civil society a lesson to never challenge the government again," especially after teachers' month-long strike last fall had forced the government to agree to a pay deal in an attempt to end the country's longest strike.
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