Teachers in Sulaimani and Halabja provinces have been on strike since late September. Photo: Rudaw
SULAIMANI, Kurdistan Region – The Kurdistan Regional Government’s (KRG) Ministry of Education will take legal action against teachers who do not end their strike and return to their classrooms, the minister said in a statement dated Thursday and made public on Saturday. Teachers have responded, vowing to continue their strike action.
“Teachers who do not attend school will be dealt with in accordance to pertinent legal and executive guidelines,” reads the statement from Dr. Pishtiwan Sadiq.
He said that the ministry supports “the rightful demands of its teachers and employees and has been trying its utmost to improve their living conditions.” However, he asserts that teachers could still make their demands heard while resuming classes “so that students are no longer deprived of education.”
Striking teachers issued a statement Saturday evening vowing to continue their strike action. “We are going to hold an extensive demonstration in front of the West Education department on Monday,” Council of Dissatisfied Teachers said in a statement sent to the media.
They stressed that their demonstrations are peaceful and said they will not compromise on their demands.
The teachers added that threats made to the teachers were an attempt to intimidate them. “Threats directed by the powers against the salaries of teachers are again an illegal act against the teachers,” reads the statement.
Teachers from Sulaimani and Halabja provinces have been on strike for over two months, demanding their reduced and often delayed salaries. The strike has virtually shut down the education system for over 700,000 students.
The ministry had previously warned that, should the strike go beyond December 1, they may not recognize the school year for students in areas affected by the strike.
The strike took a negative turn last weekend when the cars of two of the strike organizers were set on fire.
During the week, a number of striking teachers were arrested.
“The security forces arrested 15 to 20 teachers, most of them in front of their houses. Large numbers of the organizers of the striking teachers’ demonstrations were not able to sleep last night,” said Adil Hassan, a member of the Dissatisfied Teachers, on Thursday.
“We will continue with our demonstrations and will continue boycotting going to schools until the government fulfills our demands,” he added.