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Female students in Sana’a protest the detainment of university president Dr. Aqlan

Dozens of female students demonstrated in front of the University of Science and Technology (UST) in Sana’a on Saturday, in protest of the continued detainment of university president Dr. Hamid Aqlan by the Houthis. Armed men working for the Houthis abducted Dr. Aqlan over one month ago, on February 13, from his home in Sana’a, a source at UST told Al-Masdar Online. 

Al-Aqlan was targeted by the Houthis in an apparent attempt to pressure the administration of the university to hand over its financial and electronic data systems. The administration of UST is based in and controlled from Jordan, and therefore the Houthis do not have full access to all its records.

“Since taking control of the university, the Houthi militia has been trying to force the students to pay fees, but this has been categorically rejected by all students,” one of the students who participated in the demonstration said. The protesters are demanding that the Houthis allow the university to return to normal and the administration be allowed to operate freely before they pay their fees. 

Activists circulated on social media a video of the student demonstrators calling for "the immediate release of the university president" and chanting “No to paying fees until the system returns.” 

The UST administration previously called on all students to not pay any money until the Houthis stopped interfering in the university. The Houthis escalated by raiding the university and taking over all its facilities, and assigned their members to various administrative positions within UST. However, they remain unable to open the automated system that stores the students' documents and data.

A Houthi figure named Saleh Al-Sha’er, known as the "judicial guard," took control of the university, which is one of Yemen's largest private universities, at the beginning of 2020. Al-Sha’er is an officer working with the Houthis, and accused of confiscating and looting money and property belonging to many different opponents of the Houthis.


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