Saudi UN envoy slams Houthi fabrications against coalition

Mothers of Yemenis kidnapped by Houthi militias protest in Sanaa.
Updated 14 May 2017

Saudi UN envoy slams Houthi fabrications against coalition

WASHINGTON/JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia’s permanent representative at the UN, Abdullah Al-Mouallimi, said the human aspect in the Yemen war is most important for the Arab coalition waging military operations to restore government legitimacy there, contradicting propaganda circulated by the Houthi militias.
Speaking at a symposium at the Arab Gulf Countries Institute in Washington, Al-Mouallimi refuted as “fairy tales” Houthi allegations against the coalition about the war in Yemen.
He rejected the Houthi stance that the war erupted in March 2015, while in reality it started in September 2014.
He also described as false that the Houthis represent a large percentage of the Yemeni population, but instead represent only 2 to 3 percent.
Al-Mouallimi said that the coalition has not laid a sea siege on the country, barring food supplies from reaching Yemenis as claimed by the militias. He noted that food shortages exist in areas under Houthi control and relief sent to these areas does not find its way to the needy.
Al-Mouallimi also denied Houthi allegations that the coalition is not concerned about the damage done to the Yemeni infrastructure and key facilities. He said Saudi Arabia and other GCC countries have pledged more than $4 billion of continued aid to Yemenis, in addition to allocating $10 billion for Yemen’s reconstruction.
Al-Mouallimi said the Houthis will be defeated and the Yemeni people will restore their destiny under an internationally recognized leadership, a government elected with the help of Saudi Arabia, GCC countries and members in the coalition.
Hamdan Al-Shehri, a political analyst and international relations expert, told Arab News Saturday that the Houthi militias are cooperating with Iran, which is playing a dirty game by utilizing its media to spread Houthi lies to present them to the world as the underdog.
He said: “The international community should not be fooled by the Houthi and Iranian propaganda. The facts on the ground speak for themselves. The Yemeni citizens in the Houthi-controlled areas are suffering and are being oppressed and deprived of their basic needs, while the Houthi militias continue to confiscate the humanitarian aid and distribute it among themselves or sell them to the citizens to cover the expenses.”
A report by Yemen’s National Human Rights Commission issued in March pointed to crimes against unarmed civilians including indiscriminate shelling of residential compounds and popular markets, using artillery and Katyusha rocket launchers.
The report described grave violations of international human rights law and crimes against humanity, saying the perpetrators must be punished.
It cited 11 incidents in which Houthis and forces loyal to deposed President Abdullah Saleh carried out massacres, including the targeting and killing of displaced people from Tawahi, with militias dropping mortars on unarmed civilians fleeing in small boats.
According to the report, human rights teams recorded the killing of nearly 11,000 Yemeni civilians, including 679 women, 1,002 children and 9,160 men, over the past two years by Houthi gunfire and shelling.
The majority of victims were killed in 2015, the report said, confirming that Houthi and Saleh militias had been deliberately targeting civilians.
Previously, Abdul Raqeeb Fatah, the Yemeni minister of local administration and president of the Supreme Committee of Relief, accused the Houthis and Saleh’s militias of willfully starving the Yemeni people by detaining the 34 ships carrying relief, humanitarian and medical aid provided by GCC countries. He said that Houthi militias prevented ships from entering seaports of Hodeidah and Saleef.
In a statement to the Yemeni Press Agency, he said the Yemeni people have been deprived of 496,000 tons of foodstuff, 146,000 tons of oil and 275,000 tons of iron and cement.
“Despite repetitive calls to drop weapons and resort to the negotiations table with the legitimate government, this (Houthi) militia refuses to engage in a political process based on the UN Resolution 2216 and the GCC initiative and the outcomes of the Yemeni national dialogue. The international community and the United Nations have not been up to their duties either by implementing the relevant resolutions or by pressuring the militias to abide by the relevant international legitimacy and the will of the Yemeni people,” said Al-Shehri.
He added that the previous US administration opted to stay out of the Yemen conflict, unlike the Trump administration, which is willing to be more active to end the Iranian intervention in the region and put an end to the Iranian expansionist designs.
Maj. Gen. Yahya Asiri of the Saudi Defense Ministry said that the humanitarian aspect is the most important objective and that the coalition forces take maximum care to protect civilians. They keep updated lists of places, people and things that must not be targeted, he added.
Asiri said the Houthis continuously disrupt relief and humanitarian efforts and attack the Saudi border, but the Armed Forces in most cases deter the attacks through pre-emptive operations.
He said Houthis have launched as many as 49 missiles into Saudi territories and planted dozens of mines along the Kingdom’s southern border, in addition to many sea mines.
He added that the Arab Coalition respects all pertinent UN decisions on the issue, including Resolution 2216, and the truce agreements, while the Houthis constantly fail to live up to binding commitments, and have committed as many as 4,500 violations of the cease-fire agreements.


Fresh allegations about mistreatment of Kurds in Turkey

Updated 29 September 2020

Fresh allegations about mistreatment of Kurds in Turkey

  • Opposition party submits parliamentary question on torture after villagers allegedly thrown from military helicopter

ANKARA: The mistreatment of Kurds in Turkey is under the spotlight again following allegations of torture and food poisoning.

Three politicians from the pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party (HDP) who were recently arrested said they were hospitalized with food poisoning during their detention, while Amnesty International has demanded the government investigate allegations that two Kurds were thrown out of a military helicopter.

The government accuses the HDP of ties to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) and thousands of its members have been prosecuted for the same reason, including its leaders. The HDP denies such links. The PKK is designated a terrorist group by Turkey, the European Union and US.

The HDP politicians, including Ayhan Bilgen who is mayor of Van province, fell ill after eating food served at Ankara police headquarters.

Bilgen was not immediately taken to hospital, nor was he allowed to talk to his legal team until after HDP lawmakers had talked with government officials to have him hospitalized.

The trio are under arrest as part of a probe into violent protests that took place in Kobane in 2014. Their detention period was extended on Monday by another four days.

Amnesty International has urged the government to investigate allegations that two Kurds, aged 55 and 50, were thrown from a military helicopter in Van. The rights group voiced its concerns about the “allegations of torture and mistreatment” which it said were unacceptable under international human rights law and standards that Turkey was obliged to comply with.

The men alleged to have been thrown out of a military helicopter were arrested on Sept. 11 as part of an operation against the PKK. Both were hospitalized and had signs of heavy beatings on their bodies.

One of the men was shown to the media with a bloodied face. He is experiencing memory loss. The other man’s condition remains critical. He is suffering from brain trauma, broken ribs, a punctured lung, and has been in intensive care for more than two weeks.

Relatives of the villagers have demanded justice and the uncovering of the truth through a proper investigation.

Amnesty International wants Turkey to investigate the case impartially, and the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) has submitted a parliamentary question about the allegations of torture.

HDP lawmaker Ali Kenanoglu said his party would follow up the mistreatment allegations at a domestic and international level.

“Kurds have become the scapegoat of the current regime because they are considered as the easiest target that doesn’t have any strong social support behind it,” he told Arab News. “Currently all policies involving war and violence are conducted by targeting Kurds. The mistreatment regarding this segment of society has not received strong backing so far, which opens more room for such efforts.”

Once the Kurdish lawmakers were arrested they were automatically under state protection, he said. “However, state impunity still prevails when it comes to the implementation of the rights of Kurdish community.”

On Monday, HDP deputies and officials were outside the parliament building to protest against the detention of their colleagues, who are accused of inciting violence in Kobane.

Amnesty International’s Turkey campaigner, Milena Buyum, called for a prompt, independent and impartial investigation into the ill-treatment of Kurdish villagers.

“Those found to be responsible should be brought to justice in a fair trial,” she told Arab News. “Turkey is bound by the UN Convention Against Torture and the European Convention for the Prevention of Torture, both of which it is a party to. The Committee for the Prevention of Torture of the Council of Europe is tasked with monitoring places of detention in member states and can ask questions regarding the cases of alleged torture and other ill-treatment. As Amnesty International, we will continue monitoring the developments in this shocking case.”

Buyum said that people in detention must be allowed access to their lawyers once they were deprived of their liberty.

“The delay in speaking to the lawyers is concerning. The HDP representatives have been able to consult their legal representatives after four days. They still don't know the substance of the allegations they face as they have not yet been questioned.”

The rights group said that there was increased concern about detention conditions because of the pandemic, and that authorities should step up their efforts to ensure the health and safety of those in custody.

Separately, a Kurdish singer said on Monday that he had been warned by security and intelligence officials against singing in his mother tongue and to stay away from HDP events.

“You will be in trouble if you sing in Kurdish again,” Cesim Basboga was reportedly told. "You’ve been provoking people with songs.”

Basboga will file a complaint.