ribelli

  • US tells Tehran-backed Houthis to stop oppressing Yemen’s Baha’i community

    The United States issued a warning to Yemen’s Iranian-backed Houthi rebels to drop a series of trumped-up charges against members of the country’s Baha’i community

    Sam Brownback, the US Ambassador for International Religious Freedoms, expressed concern about reports that a court in the Houthi-controlled capital Sanaa is summoning members of the Baha’i faith to stand trial on charges of apostasy and espionage.

    “We urge them to drop these allegations, release those arbitrarily detained, and respect religious freedom for all,” Brownback wrote on Twitter.

    The international Baha’i community has denounced the court cases as “religiously-motivated sham trials” and accused the Houthi court of prosecuting the Baha’i community under “directives from the Iranian authorities.”

    “The Baha’is that are held in Sanaa are innocent and the physical and mental torture they are experiencing is designed to force them to admit to crimes they have not committed,” Bani Dugal, the principal representative of the Baha’i International Community, said in a statement.

    The mainly Shiite Houthis are financed, trained, and armed by the Islamic Republic of Iran, which restricts the rights of Baha’is, despite the fact that it allows freedom of religion for Christians, Jews, and Zoroastrians in Iran.

    Dozens of Baha’i leaders and followers have been arrested and imprisoned by the Houthi movement in recent years, according to religious discrimination advocacy groups.

    The current estimates indicate that several thousand Baha’is still live in Yemen despite years of civil war and instability in the country. Hamed bin Haydara, the head of a Baha’i group in Yemen was sentenced to death in 2018 for the same charges of espionage and apostasy.

    The international Baha’i community said he was arrested in 2013 and later beaten and tortured. Haydara was later forced to sign, while blindfolded, documents that admitted his guilt.

     

  • South Sudan rebels reject president’s peace deal

    South Sudan rebels rejected the government’s peace offer to reduce the number of states and create three administrative areas in the country, aiming to pave the way for a unity government.

    The country’s president Salva Kiir had said he would compromise by cutting the current 32 regional states back down to the original 10, which is one of the major demands of the rebels. The number of states is controversial because the borders will determine the divisions of power in the country.

    However, Kiir also included three “administrative areas” of Pibor, Ruweng and Abyei. Rebel chief Riek Machar said he opposed the idea of three areas, saying it “cannot be referred to as reverting to 10 states” and “as such cannot be accepted”: “We therefore call upon President Kiir to reconsider this idea of creating administrative areas”, Machar said.

    Kiir said returning to a system of 10 states was a “painful decision but a necessary one if that is what brings peace”. The most controversial of the three proposed areas is the oil-rich Ruweng, in the north.

    Kiir and Machar agreed on a peace deal in 2018. However, they now face international pressure, including by the United States, to resolve their differences before a deadline set till 22 February.

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