Teachers association suspends four-week strike in Jordan

A public school teacher takes part in a protest as part of strike in Amman, Jordan, on Thursday. (Reuters)
Updated 04 October 2019

Teachers association suspends four-week strike in Jordan

  • The strike began on Sept. 8 with the teachers in Jordan demanding that the government respect its promise to give teachers a 50 percent pay raise

AMMAN: The elected council of the Jordan Teacher Association announced late on Thursday the suspension of the four-week strike and the return to regular teaching on Sunday. Association spokesman Nouriddin Nadim simply told the press that the “strike is suspended in compliance with the decision of the administrative court.”

Nadim said that he hoped that the government will respond with a similar gesture to help resolve the conflict. 

“The teachers association has responded positively to the court decision and we have closed this file. Now the government has until Saturday night to respond to the teachers’ demands and if they don’t we will call for a new strike starting Sunday morning.”

The strike began on Sept. 8 with the teachers demanding that the government of Jordan respect its promise to give teachers a 50 percent pay raise. Teachers also asked for an apology from the government and an investigation into the events of Sept. 5, when teachers were prevented from holding a protest demonstration outside the prime minister’s office.

The Jordanian government approved a modest pay raise last week. Simultaneously the administrative court declared on Sept. 29 that teachers should immediately suspend the strike but that the court will hear the case at a later stage. 

The teachers waited until they were duly served with the decision and then submitted an appeal, but the law is clear that adherence to the decision is needed first. The association met for two hours on Thursday afternoon and reluctantly approved the suspension of the strike and the withdrawal of the legal objection. 

“We are suspending the strike even though our demands have not been met and we are very unhappy at what happened,” an association representative said.

Sources told Arab News that the decision of the association’s top council was made after reliable intermediaries assured the teacher’s association that the government was willing to make an important offer to the association before Sunday. A legal adviser to the council to Arab News that the decision was made to abide by the law and to safeguard the possibility of one day calling for another form of protest, including a strike.

Ahmad Awad, the founder and director of the Phenix Center for Economic and Informatics Studies, told Arab News that the teachers have won in their battle regardless of the results, and it represents a shout to all workers in the public and private sectors to fight for their rights. “The day after the strike is going to be better than the days before this strike. This should also be a lesson to future governments in how to deal with workers and their associations in an appropriate way,” he said.

Thouqan Obeidat, a veteran educator and a respected education strategist, said that the end of the strike without any resolution will not solve the problem because teachers will return in bad spirits.

“If during this weekend things loosen up and the teachers get a reasonable rise, the situation will go back to normal. This doesn’t mean that the teachers will be geniuses or that the educational system will be vastly improved because fixing education needs many solutions and they are not all monetary, but certainly if the teachers return without any change they will be devastated and the educational system will be in ruins,” he said.

Darfur victims say for sake of peace Bashir must face ICC

Updated 20 October 2019

Darfur victims say for sake of peace Bashir must face ICC

  • Jamal Ibrahim saw his sisters get raped by militiamen in Darfur

CAMP KALMA: For Jamal Ibrahim, whose sisters were raped by militiamen in Darfur, only the handover of Sudan’s ousted dictator Omar Al-Bashir to the International Criminal Court can bring peace to the restive Darfur region.
“Two of my sisters were raped in front of my eyes by militiamen who stormed through our village, setting our houses on fire,” Ibrahim, 34, told AFP at Camp Kalma, a sprawling facility where tens of thousands of people displaced by the conflict in Darfur have lived for years.
“Bashir and his aides who committed the crimes in Darfur must be handed over to the ICC if peace is to be established in the region.”
Ibrahim, who is from Mershing in the mountainous Jebel Marra area of Darfur, said his village was attacked by Arab militiamen in March 2003 soon after conflict erupted in the region.
The fighting broke out when ethnic African rebels took up arms against Khartoum’s then Arab-dominated government under Bashir, alleging racial discrimination, marginalization and exclusion.
Khartoum responded by unleashing the Janjaweed, a group of mostly Arab raiding nomads that it recruited and armed to create a militia of gunmen who were often mounted on horses or camels.
They have been accused of applying a scorched earth policy against ethnic groups suspected of supporting the rebels — raping, killing, looting and burning villages.
The brutal campaign earned Bashir and others arrest warrants from The Hague-based ICC for genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity.
About 300,000 people have been killed and 2.5 million displaced in the conflict, the United Nations says.
Bashir, who denies the ICC charges, was ousted by the army in April after months of nationwide protests against his ironfisted rule of three decades.
He is currently on trial in Khartoum on charges of corruption, but war victims like Ibrahim want the ex-leader to stand trial at the ICC, something the northeast African country’s new authorities have so far resisted.
Ibrahim said his father and his uncle were shot dead when militiamen, riding on camels, rampaged through their village.
“We fled from there... and came to this camp. Since then we have not returned to our village,” Ibrahim told an AFP correspondent who visited Camp Kalma last week.
Established near Niyala, the provincial capital of South Darfur state, Camp Kalma is one of the largest facilities hosting people displaced by the conflict.
It is a sprawling complex of dusty tracks lined with mud and brick structures, including a school, a medical center and a thriving market, where everything from clothes to mobile phones are sold.
Hundreds of thousands of Darfur victims live in such camps, subsisting on aid provided by the UN and other international organizations.
In Camp Kalma, hundreds of women and children queue up daily to collect their monthly quota of food aid.
“Often the officials here tell us that we must return to our village, but we can’t because our lands are occupied by others,” said a visibly angry Amina Mohamed, referring to Arab pastoralists who now occupy large swathes of land that previously belonged to people from Darfur.
“We won’t accept any peace deal unless we get back our land. We will leave this camp only when those who committed the crimes are taken to the ICC.”
Even as instances of violence in Darfur, a region the size of Spain, have fallen in recent years, there are still regular skirmishes between militiamen fighting for resources and livestock.
Sudan’s new transitional authorities have vowed to bring peace to Darfur and two other conflict zones of Blue Nile and South Kordofan.
A Sudanese delegation led by generals and government officials is currently holding peace talks in the South Sudan capital of Juba with two umbrella rebel groups that fought Bashir’s forces in these three regions.
On Wednesday, the chief of Sudan’s ruling sovereign council, General Abdel Fattah Al-Burhan, announced a “permanent cease-fire” in the three regions to show that authorities are committed to establishing peace.
But residents of Camp Kalma are not convinced, with hundreds of them staging a protest against the talks in Juba.
Musa Adam, 59, who hails from the village of Dilej but has lived in Camp Kalma for years, is in no mood to forgive Bashir.
Seven members of his family were shot dead by militiamen when they raided his village in 2003, Adam said.
“I know those militia leaders... I am ready to testify at the ICC against them as a witness to their crimes,” he said.
“Until these criminals are taken to the ICC, we cannot have peace in Darfur.”