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Jordanian police beat and arrest protesting teachers

AMMAN, Jordan (AP) — Jordanian anti-riot police clashed with protesting teachers in the capital Amman on Wednesday, with several demonstrators being beaten with clubs and arrested.

Hundreds of protesters headed toward the prime minister’s office were met by hundreds of riot police who pushed the crowd back as they chanted “peaceful, peaceful,” and called for the prime minister’s resignation.

Clad with clubs, police beat some of the protesters, several of whom fell to the ground after the clash. Dozens were arrested, according to an Associated Press video journalist at the scene.

The journalist, Omar Akour, was also beaten on the head with a club, despite telling police he was a journalist, a declaration that was ignored. Akour fell to the ground after being struck, where another policeman kicked him. Police smashed his cellphone, destroying the footage he filmed of the clashes.

Police had blocked off the area leading to the prime minister’s office and authorities had warned before the protest that any gatherings of over 20 people, in violation of coronavirus restrictions, would draw a stern response.

The protesters turned out to oppose the arrest of 13 members of their syndicate. The arrests came after Amman’s deputy attorney general suspended the members of the Jordan Teachers Association council from service and ordered the closure of the syndicate and its branches for two years over criminal and corruption charges.

The members were arrested after threatening to stage protests over a salary dispute.

The Jordanian government had agreed to increase teachers’ salaries by 50% after a month-long strike in September of last year. But after restrictions related to the coronavirus outbreak hit the economy, the government postponed the salary hikes, drawing scorn from the teachers. They accused the government of failing to honor the agreement.

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