Exposed: The Houthi charge sheet: killing civilians, recruiting child-soldiers

Houthi rebels and forces loyal to deposed President Ali Abdullah Saleh recruit children aged 9, 10, 11 and 12 to fight. (Reuters)
Updated 04 January 2017
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Exposed: The Houthi charge sheet: killing civilians, recruiting child-soldiers

CAIRO: A report alleging human rights violations in Yemen by Houthi rebels has recorded 949 cases of damaged public property and 2,673 instances of private property damage, the Saudi Embassy here reported on Tuesday.
The damage varied between complete and partial by bombardment from Houthi militants and loyalists of deposed President Abdullah Saleh against civilian homes and government and private facilities, according to a statement released on Tuesday by the embassy.
The statement also said that Houthi rebels attacked and looted facilities. They also occupied some civilian buildings to be used as military barracks.
The report recorded 3,027 cases in which Houthi militias and Saleh loyalists allegedly undermined the powers of the state — which included financial, administrative imbalances, intervention in the tasks, issuance of appointments outside the framework of law, exclusion of some civil servants from their jobs and their positions, creating private prisons and checkpoints — and other acts of looting and tampering with public money during the first half of 2016.
The statement said the Houthis and Saleh militias are using heavy weapons against populated areas. As a result, more than 1,529 people were killed, including 102 women and 221 children in the governorate of Taiz.
Saudi Arabia and coalition forces are keen to use targeted, sophisticated and high-cost smart weapons to avoid civilian loss of life.
Saudi Foreign Minister Adel Al-Jubeir said on Sept. 7 during a speech at Chatham House Institute: “There is a lot of criticism to our (military) operations in Yemen, but the matter that is not understood by many people is that we run it with the utmost care and caution.”
He pointed out: “We have a highly professional air force and high-precision weapons. We try as much as possible to avoid causing any civilian casualties, and when accidents occur or questions arise, we do the necessary investigation and then work on changing the mechanisms we follow in order to avoid repetition. But the same criticisms do not address the Houthis and Saleh rebels who recruit children aged 9, 10, 11 and 12. They indiscriminately shell towns and villages, imposing blockades on them. They are starving people and stealing the humanitarian aid to use it as a bargaining tool in order to make political progress.”
He added: “We are working under Article 51 of the Charter of the United Nations Security Council Resolution (2216), which condemned the Houthis for their role in the seizure of the government and calls on them to withdraw from the territories they occupied and requires them to hand over their weapons. But they flagrantly violated all these demands, and yes I do not see any criticism to them.”
The embassy’s statement stressed that the achievements of “Restoring Hope” and “Decisive Storm” operations could not be ignored. The coalition has succeeded in liberating more than 80 percent of the land of Yemen and handed it over to the legitimate government.
The “Decisive Storm” managed to destroy the Houthi air force and more than 95 percent of ballistic missiles captured by the militias, in addition to destroying 98 percent of tanks and armored vehicles seized by them.
The Arab coalition has also secured the international shipping lines across Bab Al-Mandab Strait, which led to the elimination of alleged Iranian influence in Yemen and the end of the threat posed by the Houthi militias against the Kingdom.


Iran govt faces angry online backlash over activists’ abuse claims

Since protests began in December, Iranians have had their internet access disrupted and have lost access to the messaging app Telegram. (Reuters)
Updated 18 February 2019
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Iran govt faces angry online backlash over activists’ abuse claims

  • The Arab minority in southwest Iran has long claimed that it faces discrimination from the central government

GENEVA, LONDON: In early January, labor activist Esmail Bakhshi posted a letter on Instagram saying he had been tortured in jail, attracting support from tens of thousands of Iranians online.
Bakhshi, who said he was still in pain, also challenged the intelligence minister to a public debate about the religious justification for torture. Late last month, Bakhshi was rearrested.
Sepideh Qoliyan, a journalist covering labor issues in the Ahvaz region, was also rearrested on the same day after saying on social media that she had been abused in jail.
Bakhshi’s allegations of torture and the social media furor that followed led Iranian President Hassan Rouhani to call for an investigation, and the intelligence minister subsequently met with a parliamentary committee to discuss the case, a rare example of top officials being prompted to act by a public backlash online.
“Each sentence and description of torture from the mouths of #Sepideh_Qoliyan and #Esmail_Bakhshi should be remembered and not forgotten because they are now alone with the torturers and under pressure and defenseless. Let us not forget,” a user named Atish posted on Twitter in Farsi on Feb. 11.
“When thousands of people share it on social media, the pressure for accountability goes up,” said Hadi Ghaemi, executive director at the New York-based Center for Human Rights in Iran. “Sham investigations won’t put it to rest. Social media is definitely becoming a major, major public square in Iran.”
Tehran prosecutor Abbas Jafari Dolatabadi said last month, without naming Bakhshi, that allegations of torture online constitute a crime.
His comments follow growing pressure from officials to close Instagram, which has about 24 million users in Iran. Iran last year shut down the Telegram messaging app, which had about 40 million users in the country, citing security concerns.
“Today you see in cyberspace that with the posting of a film or lie or rumor the situation in the country can fall apart,” Dolatabadi said, according to the Iranian Students’ News Agency. “You saw in recent days that they spread a rumor and announced the rape of an individual or claimed suicide and recently you even saw claims of torture and all the powers in the country get drawn in. Today cyberspace has been transformed into a very broad platform for committing crimes.”
The arrests of Bakhshi and Qoliyan are part of a crackdown in Ahvaz, center of Iran’s Arab population. Hundreds of activists there pushing for workers’ and minority rights, two of the most contentious issues in Iran, have been detained in recent weeks.
The Arab minority in southwest Iran has long claimed that it faces discrimination from the central government.