An armed group belonging to the Southern Movement reportedly took over and shut down several schools in the Southern governorate of Lahj on Monday last week. The assailants allegedly entered the facilities, forced students out of the halls and classrooms, and closed the surrounding shops by force of arms in order to carry out a “general strike.”
The affected schools were the Radfan schools for boys, the al-Zahra school for girls, the Laboza secondary school for boys, the al-Somod school for girls, and the Radfan faculty of education in al-Habilain province of Lahj.
They threatened teachers and students, fired their weapons into the schools and reportedly created panic among victims and bystanders. Students were threatened with death if they continued studying, and shopkeepers were forced to keep their stores closed as the strike continued until 11 o’clock.
After the events, the men departed on their motorcycles, brandishing their weapons in front of citizens and students.
The strike likely came as evidence of disputes and differences among the movement, where competing leaders and factions each want to prove their right in making decisions. The strike was imposed in al-Habilain, while similar efforts have failed in the other directorates such as Habil Jaber, al-Halimain and al-Malah, in which schools and trading shops remained open from the early morning.
The Ministry of Education in the province has demanded the parents of the students to assume the responsibility to stand with schools’ administrations against those who disturbed the peace. The ministry threatened to close the schools in the directorate in protest against the violation of the sanctity of schools and in order to preserve the safety of teachers and students.
In the meantime, parents expressed their sorrow about the security situation, which resulted in disturbing the education process and the intimidation of young students.
The parents contacted by the National Yemen also confirmed their denunciation and condemnation of these acts as “heinous” and “a violation of the the law by a few rioters and thugs.”
They emphasized their inability to catch and stop them because they control the street and terrorize citizens under the name of the movement.
The parents demanded the security agencies to use force against bandits, terrorists and enforce security and to protect schools and public facilities, as well as the lives and property of citizens who are subjected to many such abuses, in their words.