Houthi minister’s war strategy: Send schoolchildren to battlefield

A child (front) joins members of the Shi'ite Houthi movement celebrating during an occasion in Sanaa, Yemen, on September 9, 2017. Houthi's youth minister has proposed using child soldiers in the country’s ongoing civil war. (REUTERS/Khaled Abdullah)
Updated 21 October 2017
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Houthi minister’s war strategy: Send schoolchildren to battlefield

JEDDAH: The youth minister of Yemen’s Houthi rebels has proposed using child soldiers in the country’s ongoing civil war.
On Friday, Hassan Zaid, minister for youth and sport in an administration set up by the Iran-backed rebels and not internationally recognized, suggested suspending school for a year and sending pupils and teachers to the front.
“Wouldn't we be able to reinforce the ranks with hundreds of thousands (of fighters) and win the battle?” Zaid wrote on Facebook.
The Yemeni government described Zaid’s proposal as a “fascist procedure.”
“This is further proof that this militia is a war-mongering group that pays no regard to the values of the Yemeni people,” Rajeh Badi, Yemeni government spokesman, told Arab News on Friday. “While students should be encouraged to consistently engage in the education process, this top Houthi official calls for suspending school and sending them to the war zone.”
Badi stressed that the Houthis pose a threat not only to the stability and security of Yemen and the Yemeni people, but also to that of the region and the world at large.
“The world, and human rights organizations that have been turning a deaf ear and a blind eye to ongoing Houthi violations of Yemeni civil rights, must realize the savage nature of this fascist militia who has been using Yemeni children to fight for them,” he said.
Yemen has been devastated by a war between the Houthis, who control the capital, Sanaa, and the internationally recognized government of President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi.
A teachers' strike in rebel territory, in protest at salaries going unpaid for around a year, delayed the start of the school year by two weeks. When schools did open, on Sunday, classrooms were largely empty.
Social media users responded angrily to the minister's post.
“What if we let the students study and send the ministers and their bodyguards to the front?” one wrote. “That would give us victory and a prosperous future.”
Zaid seemed bemused by those who complained about his proposal.
“People close the schools under the pretext of a strike and when we think about how to take advantage of this situation, they take offense,” he said.
UNICEF estimates 13,146 schools, or 78 percent of all of Yemen's schools, have been hit by the salary crunch, while nearly 500 schools have been destroyed by the conflict, commandeered by armed factions, or repurposed as shelters.


Iran must disclose fate and location of hundreds of Ahwazi Arab prisoners: Amnesty International

Updated 28 min 10 sec ago
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Iran must disclose fate and location of hundreds of Ahwazi Arab prisoners: Amnesty International

LONDON: Amnesty International called on Tuesday on Iran to disclose the fate of hundreds of Ahwazi Arabs, who they say are being held without access to their families or legal representation.
The human rights group said in a report published Tuesday that it believes a number of Ahwazis have been executed in secret.
Ahwazi exiles told Amnesty that 22 men, including activist Mohammad Momeni Timas, had been killed.
The statement also said that since Sept. 24, up to 600 Ahwazi Arabs had been detained in a wave of arrests following an attack on a military parade in Ahvaz, Khuzestan province, that killed 24 people.
“If confirmed, the secret executions of these men would be not only a crime under international law but also an abhorrent violation of their right to life and a complete mockery of justice, even by the shocking standards of Iran’s judicial system,” Philip Luther, Amnesty International’s Research and Advocacy Director for the Middle East and North Africa said.
“It is difficult to imagine that these individuals could have received a fair trial within merely a few weeks of their arrests, let alone had the opportunity to appeal death sentences.”Ahmad Heydari, a 30-year-old ceramics shopkeeper arrested within a few days of the attack in Ahvaz, is also reported to have been killed.
Amnesty said his family heard no news of his fate or whereabouts until Nov. 11, when they were given his death certificate by the Ministry of Intelligence in Ahvaz, and told he had been executed on Nov. 8.
Officials said they were not handing over his body for burial and told the family they were not allowed to hold a memorial service for him.
Amnesty called on the Iranian authorities to reveal the whereabouts of all the detainees “without further delay” and “provide information about what legal procedures have taken place to date.”
“While the Iranian authorities have a duty to bring to justice anyone suspected of criminal responsibility for the attack in Ahvaz in fair trials, they must not use this as an excuse to carry out a purge against members of Iran’s persecuted Ahwazi Arab ethnic minority,” Luther said.