A Bahraini man holds a slogan during a demonstration of Shiite employees
A Bahraini man holds a slogan during a demonstration of Shiite employees who were dismissed from their jobs over pro-democracy protests in front of the ministry of labour in Isa Town, south of the capital Manama. © - AFP
A Bahraini man holds a slogan during a demonstration of Shiite employees
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Ali Khalil, AFP
Last updated: December 21, 2011

Fired Bahrain Shiites demand jobs back

Dozens of Bahraini Shiite employees fired over pro-democracy protests rallied on Wednesday demanding a return to work, a day after authorities said 181 would be reinstated.

Doctors, some contesting sentences of five to 15 years, nurses, teachers, oil and aluminium workers and civil servants gathered outside the labour ministry, an AFP correspondent said.

Many Shiite employees were either dismissed or suspended indefinitely in the wake of a brutal crackdown on a Shiite-led month-long protest in February and March.

According to Bahrain's labour union, 377 civil servants were dismissed, and 171 out of 449 suspended remained so. At the government-owned Alba aluminium company, 405 were suspended.

"They've dismissed the elite of this country," said consultant orthopaedic surgeon Ali Alekri, wearing his doctor's gown and carrying a Bahraini flag.

He faces a 15-year jail sentence and is among a group of 20 medics sentenced to between five and 15 years by a semi-military court before their cases were referred to a civil court for a retrial.

The charges against the medics include occupying the Salmaniya Medical Complex a few kilometres (miles) from Pearl Square, focal point of the anti-government protests.

The charges also include arms possession.

Twenty-eight other medics face misdemeanour charges for joining protests.

Authorities said on Tuesday that the case of dismissed civil servants would be closed with the reinstatement of 181 employees on January 1.

The Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry, which last month released a scathing report on government misconduct during the spring crackdown, reported 1,624 complaints from people alleging they had been sacked or suspended over the protests.

The complaints were made by employees in both the public and private sectors.

A national commission formed by the king to implement the inquiry's recommendations met on Tuesday and said that "critical steps" were being taken to reinstate dismissed employees and university students, and rebuild demolished Shiite places of worship, an official statement said.

It said that all workers not referred to the general prosecutor will return to their jobs.

But those laid off are less optimistic than the commission.

"If there was a serious initiative to reinstate employees I should be among the first to return," said Zainab Attiya, 34, who headed the labour ministry's centre for employment and training before being dismissed after she was detained for 25 days.

She was prosecuted on charges of inciting hatred, but her case was closed.

Roqiya Al-Sayed, a nurse at Salmaniya for five years, was on holiday when she received a dismissal letter for not turning up to work, she said.

"I have no hope. I've asked repeatedly and they keep telling me: go and get a job in the private sector," she said.

Gynaecologist Haitham Rahma said he has never been involved in politics or joined protests, but he was still dismissed.

"I've never been against the government," he said, charging that maybe colleagues who envied him and wanted his post might have "fabricated" evidence against him.

Dismissed Alba workers have heard nothing about returning.

"No promises so far," said Younis al-Mubarak, adding that most knew they had been fired when their electronic access cards no longer worked.

"They want to humiliate the people," said Jamila Al-Watani, who was the legal consultant at the government's environment department.

"Yes, I took part in protests. This is my crime," said Watani.

"We will return one day... It is our right."

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