'[We] will not abandon each other'
Teachers in Halabja and Sharazur districts continue protest despite govt assurances
HALABJA — Teachers on strike in Halabja and a number of Sulaymaniyah districts said on Tuesday they would continue a five-month boycott of the classroom despite government assurances that penalties levied against them would be reversed.
Authorities had issued a decision recently that teachers on strike would be counted as absent from work and have time deducted from their account balances as civil servants in an effort to pressure educators to end their protest. Public school educators across the Kurdistan Region have held repeated protests for nearly a decade over chronically late or reduced salary payments, which the government has attributed to significant financial crises and trouble paying a bloated public-sector.
In a joint statement, the teachers from Sharazor, Said Sadiq, and Penjwen districts as well as Halabja said they would continue their protest and increase cooperation among different groups, drawing on their shared political and party affiliations.
“We will increase our coordination among ourselves and will not abandon each other until the end,” the statement said, calling for further solidarity among educators until all of their demands are met.
A number of classes across the affected districts reopened last week in a partial return to normal, however, the Kurdistan Region’s education ministry has not yet released official figures on the number of schools back in session.
Kirmanj Mohammed, one of the teachers on strike, told 964media that a decision was made during a recent meeting to resume demonstrations this week.
Mohammed acknowledged that schools in Halabja and the three Sulaymaniyah districts had partially reopened, however, he noted that some teachers continued to insist the government meet all demands and revoke all penalties.
Teachers’ key demands include on-time payment of salaries in-full, opportunities for promotion, and permanent contracts in lieu of temporary contracts.