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.”


Australia recognizes west Jerusalem as capital of Israel

Updated 15 December 2018
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Australia recognizes west Jerusalem as capital of Israel

  • The prime minister is also committed to recognizing a future state of Palestine with east Jerusalem as its capital when the city’s status is determined in a peace deal
  • The embassy will be moved to west Jerusalem, and defense and trade offices will also be established

SYDNEY: Australia now recognizes west Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said Saturday, but a contentious embassy shift from Tel Aviv will not occur until a peace settlement is achieved.
Morrison is also committed to recognizing a future state of Palestine with east Jerusalem as its capital when the city’s status is determined in a peace deal.
“Australia now recognizes west Jerusalem — being the seat of the Knesset and many of the institutions of government — is the capital of Israel,” Morrison said in a speech in Sydney on Saturday.
“And we look forward to moving our embassy to west Jerusalem when practical, in support of and after final status of determination,” he said, adding that work on a new site for the embassy was under way.
In the interim, Morrison said, Australia would establish a defense and trade office in the west of the holy city.
“Furthermore, recognizing our commitment to a two-state solution, the Australian government is also resolved to acknowledge the aspirations of the Palestinian people for a future state with its capital in east Jerusalem,” he added.
Both Israel and the Palestinians claim Jerusalem as their capital.
Most foreign nations have avoided moving embassies there to prevent inflaming peace talks on the city’s final status — until US President Trump unilaterally moved the US embassy there earlier this year.
Morrison first floated a shift in foreign policy in October, which angered Australia’s immediate neighbor Indonesia — the world’s most populous Muslim nation.
The issue has put a halt on years-long negotiations on a bilateral trade deal.
Canberra on Friday told its citizens traveling to Indonesia to “exercise a high degree of caution,” warning of protests in the Indonesian capital Jakarta and popular holiday hotspots, including Bali.
Morrison said it was in Australia’s interests to support “liberal democracy” in the Middle East, and took aim at the United Nations he said was a place Israel is “bullied.”