Amnesty decries Houthi prosecution of Bahais in Yemen

Members of the Baha’i faith protest outside a state security court in Sanaa, Yemen. (File photo / AP)
Updated 18 September 2018
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Amnesty decries Houthi prosecution of Bahais in Yemen

CAIRO: An international rights group on Tuesday decried the prosecution of 24 Yemeni Bahais, including women and a teenager, by a Houthi rebel court on espionage charges.
Lynn Maalouf, Amnesty International’s Middle East director of research, said the group fears the Bahais could receive the death penalty amid “flagrantly unfair proceedings.”
The trial opened on Saturday and has been adjourned until Sept. 29. A lawyer following the case said the process was swift and most of the defendants were tried in absentia because only five were in custody. He spoke on condition of anonymity because of fear of retribution.
Iran banned the Baha’i religion, which was founded in 1844 by a Persian nobleman.
The Iranian-backed Houthis have occupied northern Yemen since 2014, after which the legitimate government fled the country and sought military intervention by a Saudi Arabian-led coalition. Houthis have waged an all-out campaign against all political and religious opponents and held thousands in detention, where torture is rampant.
The Houthi group’s leader has targeted Bahais in public speeches describing them as “satanic” and several Bahais have been detained, tortured and held incommunicado, according to the community’s UN representative.
A top figure was sentenced to death over charges of collaboration with Israel. In 2016, over 60 women, men and children participating in an educational gathering organized by Bahais were arrested as part of a mass crackdown on the religious community.
Bani Dugal, principal representative of the Baha’i International Community to the United Nations, expressed concern in a statement and said the charges were “extremely alarming and mark a severe intensification of pressure.”
He also said that the Houthi targeting of Bahais is “eerily reminiscent of the persecution of Baha’is in Iran in the 1980s during which leaders of the Baha’i community were rounded up and killed.”


Iraq says more than $60 mn stolen from Mosul after governor sacked

Updated 22 April 2019
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Iraq says more than $60 mn stolen from Mosul after governor sacked

  • Officials from the Nineveh province had embezzled a total of $64 million in public funds

BAGHDAD: More than $60 million dollars in public funds were embezzled by Mosul officials close to the province’s sacked governor in the wake of last month’s ferry sinking, Iraqi officials said Monday.
Iraq’s anti-corruption Integrity Commission said officials from the Nineveh province, of which Mosul is the capital, had embezzled a total of $64 million in public funds.
They included nearly $40 million set aside to rebuild the city, which was ravaged by three years of Daesh group rule followed by months of fierce fighting to oust the jihadists.
The money was stolen in the aftermath of a tragic ferry sinking in March that left more than 100 people dead and prompted parliament to unanimously fire governor Nawfel Akoub, who has since gone on the run.
In its Monday statement, the Integrity Commission said officials “close to Akoub” had stolen the funds but did not accuse him personally.
It said 14 officials were detained earlier this month after its probe found that “cheques and wire transfers of public funds had been made out to the personal accounts of senior officials.”
Of the missing money, “just six million dollars” were recovered by the government, a commission member told AFP.
Parliament had been investigating accusations of profound corruption among Nineveh officials, and their results came to light amid outrage over the Mother’s Day ferry sinking.
Some officials have been arrested but Akoub remains at large, thought to be hiding out in Irbil, the capital of Iraq’s Kurdish region.
Graft is endemic across Iraq, which ranks among the world’s worst offenders in Transparency International’s annual Corruption Perceptions Index.
Since 2004, a year after the US-led invasion that ousted Saddam Hussein, a total of $228 billion has vanished into the pockets of shady politicians and businessmen, according to parliament.