Yemeni Teachers Between Forced Disappearance and Death by Torture

Since 1994, the world has celebrated Teachers’ Day on October 5th of every year as a gesture of appreciation to teachers and educators around the world. This international celebration comes as a way to generate the necessary support and needs for the coming generations in terms of education. More than 100 nations recognize and celebrate this day, including Yemen. Yet, for the past five years, the only type of recognition of World Teachers’ Day Yemen has witnessed was social media posts by activists. Moreover, many violations, committed by Houthi armed group and military organizations in the southern areas of the country, against educators and their rights have been recorded and monitored. According to the reports prepared by Abductees’ Mothers Association and other international and national organizations, those violations were mainly; withholding their financial dues, forced disappearance, abduction, torture, and death by torture.

A report made by Yemeni Teacher Union stated that more than 1500 teachers and educators have been killed since the war started four years ago. 2400 others have been wounded by different type of missiles which have caused, in some cases, permanent injuries. The union documented 32 cases of teachers forced disappearance committed by Houthi armed group. Those teachers were often abducted from their homes or schools. Nobody has ever seen or heard from any of them since the abduction, and their families have not gotten any answers from Houthis regarding their fate.

Abductees’ Mothers Association documented dozens of teachers abduction cases, seven of whom are still in incarceration including; Sa’ad Al-Nuzaili, head of Teachers Union in Sana’a, Helal Okrout, head of Althawra School District, Fahd Al-Salami, the headmaster of Alnahdha School, Hazem Al-Harf, the headmaster of Alqyam School, and Khaled Al-Nahari, the headmaster of Alfateh School. The association has previously stated that many teachers and educators had been victims of abduction and torture, sometimes to death, such as Sulaiman Ali Hamoud Al-Boura’ai, a forty-year-old educator, who had been abducted from his house in Al-Hudaydah on February 8th, 2016, and was subjected to brutal torture for 35 days resulting in his death in March 2016.

Saleh Al-Beshri, a 35-year-old teacher, was the first abductee to be killed by torture. He was a school inspector and a member of Teachers Union. He was abducted on February 11th, 2015. He was brutally tortured by placing him on a wooden board, tying his mouth, hands, and legs, and severely beating him using cables and thick bats until he died on the third day of torture. His house was blown and destroyed by Houthi armed group, and his family was displaced.

Abductees’ Mothers Association, through its rallies and official statements, has condemned the violations committed by Houthi armed group and military organizations against teachers and educators in Yemen. It calls upon national and international human rights organizations, including Arab League Educational, Cultural, and Scientific Organization, to stand up against the violations teachers face, and work to improve their financial status, to release all abductees and forcibly hidden individuals, and to bring the violators to justice.