Mine blast injures Yemeni army chief-of-staff

In this file photo, Yemeni soldiers from the Popular Resistance Committees, supporting the UN-recognized government, are seen in Sirwah, west of Marib city on June 30, 2017. (AFP)
Updated 06 January 2018
0

Mine blast injures Yemeni army chief-of-staff

ADEN: The chief of staff of the Yemeni army has been injured by a land mine that went off while he was visiting the northern Al-Jouf province, where heavy fighting between government forces and Houthi fighters is underway, a senior government official said.
The official said Brig. Gen. Taher Al-Aqeeli suffered minor injuries in the explosion, which happened on Friday while he was inspecting government positions in Khub wa Al-Sha’af, the largest district in Al-Jouf province.
Forces loyal to exiled President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi’s government captured most of the district in heavy fighting with the Houthis last month.
Anti-Houthi forces, backed by a Saudi-led coalition, have intensified an offensive against the Iran-aligned group that controls most of northern Yemen since former President Ali Abdullah Saleh was killed after he switched sides in Yemen’s nearly three-year-old civil war.
The Houthis, who killed Saleh after they surrounded his compound in Sanaa, accused the former president of trying to sow sedition in the country. Saleh’s General People’s Congress party accused the Houthis of trying to monopolize running the country.
The Houthis said Al-Aqeeli and several of his aides were injured in the blast, describing Aqeeli’s injuries as serious.
Hadi appointed Al-Aqeeli last September, replacing Major General Mohammed Al-Maqdeshi, who was appointed as a presidential adviser.


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
0

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.