US voices concern for Baha’i facing death from Houthis

Iran-backed Houthi militia have been accused of mistreating members of the Baha’i faith. (File/AFP)
Updated 26 April 2019
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US voices concern for Baha’i facing death from Houthis

  • A Houthi court sentenced Hamed bin Haydara to death on “absurd” allegations
  • The United States urged Yemen’s Iran-backed Houthi militia to end the mistreatment of members of the Baha’i faith

WASHINGTON: The United States urged Yemen’s Iran-backed Houthi militia to end the mistreatment of members of the Baha’i faith, as Houthi court sentenced believer to death on “absurd” allegations.
The Baha’i community said that Hamed bin Haydara, who has been detained since 2013, will face an appeal hearing on Tuesday in the Houthi-controlled capital Sanaa.
The US State Department said it was “deeply concerned” that the Houthis have targeted dozens of Baha’is and voiced alarm over accounts that Haydara has endured “physical and psychological torture.”
“This persistent pattern of vilification, oppression and mistreatment by the Houthis of Baha’is in Yemen must end,” State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus said in a statement.

READ: Abdul-Malik Al-Houthi: A wolf in sheep’s clothes

The Baha’i community on Thursday released what it said was the response to Haydara’s appeal, with the prosecutor accusing the faith of being founded on “satanic thought.”
It said that Haydara has also been accused of seeking to create a separate Baha’i homeland on the Yemeni island of Socotra.
“The prosecutor’s arguments do not address the merits of Mr. Haydara’s appeal and instead make absurd, wide-ranging accusations that are not based in law or in fact,” said Bani Dugal, the principal representative of the Baha’i International Community to the United Nations.
He charged that the prosecutor was following the tactics of Iran’s clerical regime, which allows freedom of religion to several minorities but targets the Bahai’s, whose founder the Baha’u’llah was Iranian born in 1817.
The Baha’i faith calls for unity among religions and equality between men and women.
Baha’is consider the Baha’u’llah to be a prophet.


Turkey sends weapons to opposition fighters in Syria

Turkish-backed Syrian opposition fighters get a major boost as Ankara backs them with fresh supplies of weaponry to help them hold their ground. (Reuters)
Updated 26 May 2019
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Turkey sends weapons to opposition fighters in Syria

  • Ankara signals readiness to preserve its influence in Syria’s Idlib province in northwestern region

AMMAN: Turkey has equipped an array of mainstream Syrian opposition fighters it backs with fresh supplies of weaponry to help them try to repel a major Russian-backed assault, senior opposition officials and opposition sources said on Saturday.
Russia is backing the Syrian army’s large aerial and ground assault as it seeks to gain control of the last big stretch of opposition-held territory in the northwest of the country.
Syria’s Bashar Assad launched the assault last month, saying fighters had breached an existing cease-fire, triggering a civilian exodus by bombarding Idlib and adjacent areas. It has been the biggest escalation since last summer between Assad and the opposition fighters in Idlib province and a belt of territory around it.
Ankara stepped up supplies in recent days after failing to persuade Russia in recent meetings of a joint working group that it should end its escalation to avert a major influx of refugees pouring into Turkey, two senior opposition figures said.

FASTFACT

Ankara stepped up supplies in recent days after failing to persuade Russia in recent meetings of a joint working group that it should end its escalation to avert a major influx of refugees pouring into Turkey.

In doing so Turkey signaled its readiness to preserve its influence in northwestern Syria, where it has beefed up its troop presence in a dozen military bases that were set up under a de-escalation deal with Russia, a senior opposition commander said. Turkish officials were not immediately available for comment.
Overnight, a Turkish military convoy arrived in a base in northern Hama near opposition-held Jabal Al-Zawiya, where Russian and Syrian jets have been pounding for weeks, a fighter and a witness said.
The delivery of dozens of armored vehicles, Grad rocket launchers, anti-tank guided missiles helped roll back some army gains and retake the strategically located town of Kfar Nabouda.