Monday, July 30, 2007
The Children’s Parliament
(from left to right: member of The Children's Parliament, employee at Democracy School, member of The Children's Parliament)
Yesterday, the 29th of July I traveled to the Ministry of Justice and the Ministry of Interior with the Children’s Parliament and Democracy School Director, Dr. Jamal. The purpose of both meetings was to ask questions concerning specific youth in prisons and how the police conduct arrests in Sana’a. The number of boys and girls in attendance was equal with approximately 20 youth in total.
After a series of round table introductions in the Ministry of Justice, several members of the Children’s Parliament stated the purpose of the meeting and engaged the Minister in open dialogue concerning one youth in a prison that we visited a few days earlier. During this discussion, I witnessed the minister jotting down note, which he would later use as a reference point in his answers. Also, two media cameras continued to circle the table throughout the entire meeting. Personally, I was surprised that the cameraman did not serve as a distraction to the children, most of whom were only in high school or younger. However, the youth remained focused on the task at hand, having the minister answer each and every question they posed. The minister responded to the questions in approximately 30 minutes as the students wrote down notes; the pen and paper provided by the ministry. Since there was no translator I am not positive on the content of the questions and answers, but I could see that the youth were not completely content with the answers provided.
Overall, both meetings took place in very formal settings. The children were seated at a long table and the minister sat at the head of the table in a suit. There was a visible, physical distance between the youth and the minister, but also a distance between the questions asked and the answers provided. It appeared that every answer by the minister simultaneously provoked another set of varying questions. Since each meeting only lasted only an hour not every question could possibly be answered.
Even though the youth may have been expecting more out of the two visits, I was very impressed by the way they handled themselves and the opportunities granted to them by the Democracy School. As far as I am aware, there is no group similar to the Children’s Parliament in the United States. These chosen youth representatives routinely attend government functions, discuss controversial issues, and all the while maintain stellar grades in school. During my stay in Yemen I have seen several films and newspapers documenting human right’s violations. However, I strongly believe that the youth in the Children’s Parliament will one-day become the leaders of this country and not address these problems through merely words, but fix them.
Posted by DukeEngage Yemen 2007 at 7/30/2007 12:39:00 AM