Yemen monitor, UK condemn Houthi discrimination against other groups

The persecution of members of the Baha’i community in areas of Yemen under Houthi control due to their religious beliefs is a serious violation of international human rights law. (File/AFP)
Updated 27 September 2018
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Yemen monitor, UK condemn Houthi discrimination against other groups

  • Houthi militia elements discriminate against Yemeni people who do not belong to their tribe
  • The UK also expressed deep concern by reports that the Houthi authorities in Sanaa held a mass trial of members of Yemen’s Baha’i community

DUBAI: Houthi militia elements discriminate against Yemeni people who do not belong to their tribe, Saudi state TV Al-Ekhbariya has reported, quoting a statement from the Yemeni Coalition for Monitoring Human Rights Violations.

“The Houthi militia considers discrimination a part of its religious heritage,” the human rights group said, explaining that the Iran-backed group practices violence against other sects and religions.

The statement stressed that the Houthi militias have become a threat to coexistence and social peace in Yemen.

The Houthis forced the displacement of many Yemeni families from their homes, which have been racially motivated, the group claimed.

Earlier this week, the UK also expressed deep concern by reports that the Houthi authorities in Sanaa held a mass trial of members of Yemen’s Baha’i community. The Houthis tried 24 people, including eight women and a child, and charged them with sentences that could result in death.

The Baha’i community has been harassed for years but activists say their situation is becoming increasingly dangerous under the rule of the Iranian-backed militia.

The Baha’i faith is a small monotheistic religion which began in Iran in the 1800s.

“The persecution of members of the Baha’i community in areas of Yemen under Houthi control due to their religious beliefs is a serious violation of international human rights law,” Special Envoy for Freedom of Religion and Belief, Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon, said.

“New cases of arbitrary detention and continuing reports of the abuse of detainees by the Houthis are deeply concerning, and we wholly condemn this mistreatment,” he added.

The British Foreign and Commonwealth Office said they are working closely with partners to press for the release of detained individuals and called on their partners to take a strong stance on this matter during the Human Rights Council this week.


Daesh destruction of rural Iraq hinders residents’ return: Amnesty

Updated 13 min 7 sec ago
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Daesh destruction of rural Iraq hinders residents’ return: Amnesty

  • Amnesty reported Daesh fighters burnt or chopped down orchards, sabotaged wells and stole or destroyed vital farming equipment
  • The extremists seized control of much of northern Iraq in the summer of 2014

BAGHDAD: The Daesh group’s deliberate destruction of agriculture in northern Iraq has hindered the return of hundreds of thousands of residents, Amnesty International said in a report released Thursday.
The New York-based rights group said Daesh fighters burnt or chopped down orchards and sabotaged wells by filling them with rubble, oil or other materials. The militants also stole or destroyed pumps, cables, generators, transformers and vital electricity lines.
Amnesty called on the Iraqi government to repair rural infrastructure and compensate the displaced so they can return to their homes.
Daesh seized control of much of northern Iraq in the summer of 2014. US-backed Iraqi forces gradually drove the militants from all the territory under their control, declaring victory a year ago after a costly campaign that destroyed entire neighborhoods and towns.
“The damage to Iraq’s countryside is as far-reaching as the urban destruction, but the consequences of the conflict on Iraq’s rural residents are being largely forgotten,” said Richard Pearshouse, senior crisis adviser at Amnesty.
He said the report focuses on the “deliberate, wanton destruction” around the area of Sinjar, where the extremists massacred and enslaved thousands of members of the Yazidi religious minority. About half of Sinjar’s residents have returned, with many others saying they have nothing to go back to.
Beyond Sinjar, Amnesty’s report gave sobering figures for all of Iraq.
“The conflict against IS eviscerated Iraq’s agricultural production, now an estimated 40 percent lower than 2014 levels,” it said. “Before IS, around two-thirds of Iraq’s farmers had access to irrigation — only three years later, this had fallen to 20 percent. Around 75 percent of livestock was lost, spiking to 95 percent in some areas.”
Syrian and Iraqi forces have gradually driven Daesh out of nearly all the territory it once held. But the group still maintains a presence in the Syrian desert and remote areas along the border. Many have warned it could stage a comeback if economic grievances are not addressed.
“Unless there is urgent government assistance, the long-term damage inflicted on Iraq’s rural environment will reverberate for years to come,” Pearshouse said. “When IS tore through Iraq in 2014, it thrived off rural poverty and resentments, so Iraq’s government should be concerned that something similar could happen again.”