Houthi ‘abuses’ stir Human Rights Watch concerns

Houthi militants react as they ride on a truck after Yemen's former president Ali Abdullah Saleh was killed, in Sanaa, Yemen, on December 4, 2017. (REUTERS/Khaled Abdullah)
Updated 08 December 2017
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Houthi ‘abuses’ stir Human Rights Watch concerns

DUBAI: Human Rights Watch (HRW) said Thursday it was concerned that Yemen’s Houthi militias were carrying out “abusive practices” against former allies — loyalists of slain ex-President Ali Abdullah Saleh — and civilians.
The Houthis gunned down Saleh on Monday, and the Iran-backed insurgents have since consolidated their grip on the capital.
“The Houthis should remember that the killing of Ali Abdullah Saleh does not negate their obligations under international law, nor to civilians in areas under their control,” HRW’s Yemen researcher Kristine Beckerle told AFP.
Beckerle said the actions of the Houthis fit a pattern — documented by HRW since the group took over Sanaa in 2014 — of arbitrary detentions and forcible disappearances against critical voices, notably activists and journalists.
“Troubling reports from Sanaa over the last few days indicate the Houthis are again engaging in these abusive practices,” she said.
Members of Saleh’s political party said the Houthis have rounded up hundreds of suspected loyalists, including his family members. Reports of summary executions could not immediately be confirmed.
Tribal chiefs in at least four provinces have been summoned to pledge allegiance to the Houthis, and the crackdown has also targeted local journalists.
Saleh’s body remained at a military hospital in Sanaa while the Houthis and members of his party sparred over burial plans, sources close to the family said.
The sources said the Houthis had demanded that Saleh’s body be buried in a family ceremony at his home village of Sanhan, south of Sanaa, while the family was insisting that the Houthis hand over the body without any conditions.
On Wednesday, the Committee to Protect Journalists as well as Reporters Without Borders urged the Houthis to immediately release 41 staff of Yemen Today, a pro-Saleh television station.
Meanwhile, the Saudi-led coalition scored its first major gains in Yemen since Saleh was killed when local fighters captured an area on the Red Sea coast from Houthi militias, residents said on Thursday.
Residents said southern Yemeni fighters and allied local forces captured Al-Khoukha district located some 350 km southwest of Sanaa after heavy fighting over Wednesday night which also involved coalition forces. At least 25 people were killed.
Residents said fighters known as the Southern Resistance, together with other local forces and backed by coalition advisers from the UAE, launched attacks on Al-Khoukha on Wednesday.


Iraqi police arresting protesters in the south — activists

Updated 16 July 2018
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Iraqi police arresting protesters in the south — activists

  • The government rushed to contain the protests with promises of thousands of jobs, mainly in the oil sector
  • Basra is home to about 70 percent of Iraq’s proven oil reserves of 153.1 billion barrels

BAGHDAD: Iraqi security forces in the southern oil-rich province of Basra have started arresting protesters who took part in the week-long demonstrations there to demand more jobs and better services, activists said Monday.
Protests in the city of Basra, the provincial capital and Iraq’s second-largest city, are not unusual in scorching summer weather but they boiled over last Tuesday, when security forces opened fire, killing one person and wounding five.
Within days the rallies spread to other provinces. In some places, protesters broke into local government buildings and burned the offices of some political parties.
The government rushed to contain the protests with promises of thousands of jobs, mainly in the oil sector, and an urgent allocation of 3.5 trillion Iraqi dinars ($3 billion) for electricity and water projects. It blamed “infiltrators” for the damages.
The arrests started on Sunday night, with police chasing protesters down main roads and alleys following demonstrations in the city of Basra, and also in the countryside and around oil fields, two activists told The Associated Press.
The activists could not give a specific number for those arrested, saying only “hundreds.” They spoke on condition of anonymity, fearing for their safety. Officials were not immediately available to comment.
The activists said Internet was back on after a two-day shutdown, but a heavy deployment of security forces outside the local government building in Basra prevented protesters from gathering there Monday.
Police also closed off surrounding streets with barbed wire.
Meanwhile, authorities reopened the country’s second-busiest airport, in the city of Najaf, following a two-day shutdown after a mob broke into the facility on Friday, damaging the passenger terminal and vandalizing equipment.
Transportation Minister Kadhim Finjan Al-Hamai was at the Najaf airport to announce the reopening on the Iraqi state TV as an Iraqi Airways plane landed behind him. He said 18 local and international flights were to land on Monday.
The shutdown had caused “heavy losses” to the government, the airport and airline companies, he said without elaborating.
Kuwait Airways, the Royal Jordanian and Iran’s Aviation Authority suspended their flights to Najaf on Sunday, citing security concerns. The United Arab Emirates’ FlyDubai canceled Saturday’s flights to Najaf and said it was suspending its flights until July 22.
Iraq’s vital Um Qasr port on the Arabian Gulf, and two main border crossings — Safwan with Kuwait and Shalamcheh with Iran — were closed to both passengers and goods as protesters had blocked the main roads leading to the sites.
Basra is home to about 70 percent of Iraq’s proven oil reserves of 153.1 billion barrels. It is located on the Arabian Gulf bordering Kuwait and Iran, and is Iraq’s only hub these days for all oil exports to the international market.