The brutal killing of a Yemeni mother in front of her children by armed Houthi rebels has sparked outrage across Yemen and demands that the group end its brutality and human right abuses.
On Thursday, a group of armed Houthis beat Ahlam Al-Ashari, a 25-year-old mother, to death in front of her children while searching for her husband in Al-Oudyen district in the province of Ibb.
Residents said that the Houthis kicked and beat the mother with sticks after failing to find her husband. She died shortly after the armed group left her house.
Images of grieving children hugging their mother’s body sparked an outcry in the streets and on social media.
Al-Ashari’s husband appeared in an amateur video, complaining to a gathering of people that a group of Houthis, led by a local security officer, stormed his house and killed his wife who was suffering from kidney failure.
“Abu Bashar killed my wife, ” the heartbroken husband said, referring to a Houthi leader named Shaker Al-Shabebi.
Yemeni politicians, human right activists and journalists condemned the killing, repeated their demands for the Houthi movement to be designated as a foreign terrorist organization, and urged the international community to help put an end to Houthi crimes.
Yemen’s Prime Minister, Maeen Abdul Malik Saeed, said that brutal attacks by the Houthis have shattered hopes for peace.
A military response is needed to defeat the militants and halt crimes such as killing civilians, blowing up houses and attacking people, he added.
“Only by defeating and resisting this criminal group will Yemenis enjoy peace and dignity,” Saeed said on Twitter.
Former human rights minister Mohammed Asker said that Houthi crimes have stoked anger against the rebels, who appear to flout human rights laws with impunity.
Local and international right groups and activists also slammed the militants for violating human right laws and cultural norms that offer women and children protection during conflicts
The SAM Organization for Rights and Liberties, a Geneva-based NGO, said that Houthi leaders are ignoring crimes committed against women and children by rebel figures.
“The brutal aggression by the Houthi militants has become a predominant feature affecting all segments of society, including merchants, property owners, women and children, and residents of the poorest and marginalized areas,” the rights group said.
The American Center for Justice, a human rights group established by Yemeni activists, voiced alarm at rising numbers of abuses in areas under Houthi control and demanded an independent investigation into the killing of the woman in Ibb.
“The center calls for an urgent, impartial and transparent judicial investigation free from any external interference to ensure that the perpetrators are brought to justice and apply the penalties prescribed by law,” the group said.
Explaining the Houthi group’s cruelty against people in areas under their control, Abdulkader Al-Guneid, a Yemeni activist from the southern city of Taiz, said that the militants want to send a “stern message” that they will not tolerate any dissent.
“The reason for the use of excessive force is to drive the message deep in the minds of people that Houthis are the ultimate authority and that they have zero tolerance to defiance,” Al-Guneid said on Twitter.