Houthis ‘depriving millions of Yemeni children of education’

Students attend a school in Sanaa. (Reuters)
Updated 18 April 2017

Houthis ‘depriving millions of Yemeni children of education’

JEDDAH: Millions of Yemeni children risk missing out on proper education due to the Houthi militias’ refusal to pay the salaries of hundreds of thousands of schoolteachers in the rebel-controlled areas, the Yemeni government said on Monday.
“Of the more than 300,000 teachers in the country, over 130,00 in the rebel-held territory have not been paid salaries in months,” Yemeni Education Minister Abdullah Lamlas told Arab News.
“Since the government has decided to relocate the central bank from Sanaa to Aden, Houthi militias have been using the teachers as pawns, refusing to pay their salaries and thus undermining the entire education process and endangering the future of the new Yemeni generation,” he said. 
He added that over the past two years, Houthi militias and forces loyal to ousted President Ali Abdullah Saleh have denied Yemen’s children the right to education and placed them in harm’s way by recruiting them by force.
He said the coup militias also changed the school curriculum to instill sectarian ideology into the students’ minds.
“Houthis have deprived more than 2.5 million students of the right to education, in addition to shelling, raiding schools and turning them into military posts and weapons deposits. They destroyed more 1,700 schools since they have turned against the legitimate government,” said Lamlas.
He added that the Education Ministry is making efforts to develop a program to sustain a comprehensive rehabilitation of students.
The coup militias printed over 11,000 pamphlets carrying the views of their leader Hussain Al-Houthi and the group’s slogans, which they distributed in schools controlled either by the militias or by forces loyal to Saleh, independent Yemeni sources reported.
Meanwhile, a UN report warned this month that the two years of war may have deprived an entire generation of Yemeni children of education, putting them at greater risk of early marriage, in case of girls, or of being recruited as child soldiers in a conflict that has killed at least 10,000 people.
Months of unpaid salaries have exacerbated the situation of over three-quarters of the country’s impoverished teachers. It also means that up to 4.5 million children might not finish the school year, UNICEF representative for Yemen Mertixell Relano told a press conference on Monday in Sanaa.
“At the moment, we have more than 166,000 teachers in the country that have not received a salary since October last year. This is more or less 73 percent of the total number of teachers in the country,” Relano said. “Those children that are not in school, they are at risk of being recruited (for military service), or the girls might be at risk of being married earlier,” she stressed.
The crisis began last year when the internationally recognized government shifted Yemen’s central bank out of Sanaa, which is controlled by the Houthis.
The government says the Houthis looted the bank and that it is trying to make all payments despite the Houthis obstructing transfers, a charge the group denies.
Seven months of salaries are in arrears, public sector employees in Houthi-controlled parts of the country say, making commuting to work and making ends meet difficult. 


Turkey’s rulers plot law changes to block breakaway parties’ power grab

Updated 28 May 2020

Turkey’s rulers plot law changes to block breakaway parties’ power grab

  • President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s AKP is working on a plan to stop parliamentary deputies from transferring to other parties

ANKARA: Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) is looking at ways to change electoral laws in order to block challenges to power from two new breakaway political parties.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s AKP and its nationalist coalition partner the MHP are working on a plan to stop parliamentary deputies from transferring to other parties — a move that has fueled rumors of an imminent snap election in the country.

Under Turkish election rules, political parties must settle their organization procedures in at least half of the nation’s cities and hold their first convention six months ahead of an election date.

Any political party with 20 lawmakers in Turkey’s parliament is entitled to take part in elections and be eligible for financial aid from the treasury for the electoral process.

The leader of the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), Kemal Kilicdaroglu, has hinted at the possibility of transferring some CHP lawmakers to the newly founded parties to secure their participation in elections.

Turkey’s ex-premier, Ahmet Davutoglu, and the country’s former economy czar, Ali Babacan, both longtime allies of Erdogan, recently left the AKP to establish their own opposition groups, and have come under pressure from the AKP and MHP to leave their parties out of the race.

Babacan has been critical of Erdogan’s move away from a parliamentary system of governance in Turkey to one providing the president with wide-ranging powers without any strong checks and balances.

“The AKP is abolishing what it built with its own hands. The reputation and the economy of the country is in ruins. The number of competent people has declined in the ruling party. Decisions are being taken without consultations and inside a family,” Babacan said in a recent interview.

He also claimed that AKP officials were competing against each other for personal financial gain.

Babacan, a founding member of the AKP, was highly respected among foreign investors during his time running the economy. He resigned from the party last year over “deep differences” to set up his DEVA grouping on March 9 with a diverse team of former AKP officials and liberal figures.

Berk Esen, a political analyst from Ankara’s Bilkent University, believes Babacan’s recent statements have angered Erdogan.

“As a technocrat, Babacan gains respect from secular circles as well as the international community, which Erdogan clearly lacks. Despite being in office for 13 years, Babacan has not been tainted by corruption allegations and is known as the chief architect of Turkey’s rapid economic growth during the AKP’s first two terms,” he told Arab News.

“The legislation that the AKP-MHP coalition is working on may prevent deputy transfer only in case early elections are scheduled for the fall. Otherwise, the newly established parties will most likely build their organizations across the country and become viable for elections by summer, if not the spring of 2021.”

If Davutoglu and Babacan were successful in capturing disillusioned voters, they could prevent the ruling coalition getting the 51 percent of votes needed to secure a parliamentary majority.