Under the slogan “Except for Education” students call for conflict-free education [Archives:2008/1166/Local News]

June 23 2008

Essam Adduais
For the Yemen Times

SHABWA, June 18- Under the slogan “Except for Eduction” a seminar entitled “Students-Society Dialogue” was held on June 11 at the cultural center in Attaq, the capital city of Shabwa.

The seminar came as part of an awareness campaign conducted in Marib, Al-Jawf and Shawba by the coalition of three non-government organizations (NGOs) and three media outlets, Marebpress News, Al-Neda Weekly and the Yemen Times. The awareness campaign is funded and supported by the National Democratic Institute (NDI), represented by the Conflict Management Program.

At the end of the seminar, the participants recommended that a tribal reconciliation agreement should be signed between conflicting tribes in the three governorates. They also advised that such seminars should be held to educate all levels of society about the impacts and risks of revenge killings. Security and judiciary systems should be reinforced to speed up the suspended issues, they further recommended.

They also concluded that educational institutions should be safe havens, saying that a code of ethics should be signed between the tribes. The code would make attacking students, teachers, schools and faculties a crime, among other phenomena. They advised holding a student conference and guiding religious discourses to stand against revenge killings.

A huge number of people attended the seminar, including local authority leaders, local councilors, executive office personnel in the governorate, judicial and social figures, and media personnel from the three governorates.

At the commencement, Nadwa Al-Dawsari, Conflict Management Program Manager in the NDI, emphasized that the NDI strives to spread culture of dialogue and mitigation of conflicts among communities.

She also said, “The NDI is an NGO operating in more than 60 countries worldwide to enhance emerging democracies in those countries so as to build institutional capacities and democracies among political parties, civil society organizations and parliaments.”

Al-Dawsari further stressed the importance of holding seminars aimed at exchanging viewpoints to educate the public about the impacts of revenge killing and tribal conflicts. The purpose of the Students-Society Dialogue is to reach solutions which put an end to the problems faced by students due to tribal conflicts and revenge killings in the local communities.

In turn, Ali Bin Rashed Al-Harithi, Deputy Governor of Shabwa, emphasized the importance of holding such a seminar to have a correct vision to resolve the community's problems.

Al-Harithi said, “Revenge killing is a big problem, hindering development in the country. The government is striving to put an end to this issue which damages everything, including security, stability and social peace.”

He further stressed the importance of the state's role in supporting social efforts aiming at reducing revenge killing and tribal conflicts taking place in the three governorates as well as deepening bonds of affection and peace in society.

Likewise, secondary school teachers spoke out, reviewing some of the difficulties and obstacles hindering the educational process due to revenge killings and tribal conflicts. They said some schools were closed, and teachers and students did not attend schools for fear of revenge killings.

Ayoub Ali, a teacher in Shabwa, shared his story, saying that he was injured during a revenge killing. He left the school and now sits at home, handicapped.

Another student from Al-Jauf recounted, “We were six students studying together in one school, but [we] split up because of revenge killing. Revenge killing pursues us both inside and outside the governorate.”

“Tribal sheiks can do what the state can't. Their prestige gives them wide authority and influence inside their local community,” stated Hayam Al-Qurmoushi, a female officer in the BADSP.

Meanwhile, Shabwa's Oil and Minerals Faculty Dean, Fahd Khamees, stressed that revenge killing issues can be resolved by holding serious discussions and dialogues and by intensifying awareness among students and activating the judiciary and security's role.