On their Universal Day, Yemeni teachers become victims of abduction, marginalization, and poverty!

Governments worldwide celebrate #UniversalTeachersDay by honoring teachers, acknowledging their remarkable role in advancing nations, and recognizing the importance of teachers in building a knowledgeable generation capable of facing life and creating a prosperous future. The teachers’ situation is, however, entirely different in Yemen. Amid the country’s ongoing crisis, teachers have become victims of abduction, enforced disappearance, and torture in prisons, often leading to death. Unlawful death sentences are also pronounced against them in trials lacking legitimacy, based on unfounded charges.

Many Yemeni teachers have lost their jobs due to years of abduction, and those released face challenges due to displacement. This situation has placed them in difficult living conditions, forcing them to confront life’s challenges rather than engaging with the developments in education.

A teacher from Taiz, who was abducted and later released in a swap deal on December 19, 2019, shares his story:

“I am a Quran teacher and the Khaled Al-Marad’a Mosque imam. I spent a thousand days in detention. On February 12, 2017, in the afternoon, gunmen affiliated with the Houthi security forces kidnapped me from the middle of the al-Barh market. They took me to the primary court prison in Maqbana, where about 40 detainees were held. At midnight, I was summoned, interrogated, and subjected to systematic torture—beatings with hoses and sticks, and immersion in water for three days. I stayed there for two months, then transferred to al-Saleh City prison in Taiz.

There, one hears nothing but screaming and wailing. After a month and a half, I was moved to Dhamar’s prison, the ‘Community College’ prison, where I endured severe psychological torture. Because I am a “Quranic teacher,” I was transferred to cells without bathrooms and then to halls of bathrooms where we slept for three consecutive days.

 This is the situation of a teacher on the occasion of his World Day. Even after our release, we are still forgotten by all parties, enduring the hardships of abduction and difficult financial conditions.

Another teacher, Anwar Abdullah Al-Sabri, shares the painful details of his kidnapping:

“I work as a teacher in technical education. I was abducted by the Houthi group and imprisoned in the Jahmelia city prison, known as the ‘Chicken House,’ for eight months. I was kidnapped while in the public street on December 11, 2017, without any reason or charge. I was on my way to prepare for my daughter’s wedding. I was imprisoned and placed in rooms without toilets, resembling places designated for chickens. I faced daily insults, curses, threats of execution, and when today, on ‘World Teachers’ Day,’ I realize the reality of a teacher’s situation in this country.”

Yet another teacher, Sadiq Al-Muflehi, further says:

“I was abducted from the public street on December 11, 2017, without any reason or charge. I was taken to al-Saleh City prison in Taiz, where I endured severe psychological and physical torture during interrogations that continued from evening until dawn. I was blindfolded, hands tied behind my back. The investigator hit me on the head and back with a hose, and once with an electric shock. After the investigation, I was thrown into an isolation cell for nearly ten days without a bed, cover, or bathroom. I suffered from infections and skin diseases, deprived of medical treatment and clean water. I was subjected to harsh punishment as if I were a criminal, not a teacher who only knows education.”

These stories and sufferings seem endless. This is the plight of teachers amid all conflicting parties in Yemen, enduring severe violations amounting to war crimes. There is a lack of any deterrent that would stop these parties from violating teachers’ rights and keeping them away from political conflicts or otherwise. The Abductees Mothers’ Association works tirelessly to convey the issue of abductees and their severe suffering to all local and international entities, urging action to halt abduction violations and release abductees without conditions. Perpetrators of these violations must be brought to trial for deterrent punishment.