Symposium discusses intellectuals’ role in democratic reform [Archives:2007/1052/Local News]

May 21 2007

SANA'A, May 19 ) Over the period May 15 – 17, Human Rights Information and Training Center organized a symposium themed the Role of Intellectuals in Democratic Reform. Over 60 Yemeni and Arab intellectuals and thinkers, representing different political and human rights institutions, attended the symposium.

Head of Human Rights Information and Training Center Ezz Addin Al-Asbahi pointed out that this symposium comes within the frame of democratic dialogue supervised and organized by his center. The program is mainly meant for creating dialogue channels among representatives of societies, whether civil society organizations, political parties, Members of Parliament, or media men.

Al-Asbahi added that the symposium aimed at restoring the leading role of intellectuals who can set a vision for leading people out of democracy crisis because intellectuals are able to see the future and provide the solutions to people's problems.

One of the participants of the syposium, which connected three sectors including official parties, civil society organizations and Parliament, dealt with the role of intellectuals and the obstacles that stand before him in his try to perform his own role.

Moreover, in their papers presented during the first session, Qadri Ahmed Haider and Ahmed Al-Aswadi discussed the obstacles that hinder Yemeni intellectuals from contributing to the enhancement of the democratic tendencies.

In the second session, which addressed the role to be played by civil society organizations as to boosting the democratic transfer in Yemen, different papers were presented by Abdulbari Taher, Ahmed Naji Ahmed, Ali Al-Sarari and Mubark Salmeen, who dealt with the experiences of some institutions aiming to enrich the society's thinking and reinforce the democratic practices.

At its conclusion, the participants stressed the importance of adopting dialogue and spreading civil society culture among intellectuals and people in order to ensure a suiting atmosphere for achieving the democratic reforms.

They also issued a statement in solidarity with Palestinian thinker Azmi Bisharah who was sent by Israeli authorities to life-time term in prison, asking the international community, United Nations, and Arab regimes to stand against the suppressive practices of Israel.

The challenges before the democratic transformation were included under three headings: challenges facing intellectuals, challenges facing civil society organizations, and challenges of societal environment.

As to those challenges facing intellectuals, the list included the complexity of today's life which forces most intellectuals to busy themselves with their issues and foregt about democracy issues. Further, some intellectuals do not join political parties under the pretext that the political environment is not prepared yet.

Civil society organizations suffer the lack of democratic practices together with the spread of fanaticism and the lack of communications between leaders and society's affiliates. They also lack technical expertise and strategic visions, together with the absence of permanent financial resources.

Regarding the societal environment, the participants believe that an individual is a reflection of his society and the tribe is more powerful than state. Further, people suffers the lack of awareness with dominance of illiteracy, that hinders the democratic transformation. Poverty is another factor before the democratic transformation as most Yemeni citizens are hunting after their living.