Tag Archives: Yemen

8-Year-Old “Bride” Dies of Internal Injuries after Night with 40-Year-Old “Husband”

An eight-year old girl identified as “Raman” has died of internal injuries after being raped on first night of her arranged marriage to a man more than five times her age. The incident has sparked outrage in the area, where child-marriage is a contentious issue.

Yemeni officials insist that the journalist who broke the story, Mohammad Radman, is making it up, child brides are not uncommon thing Yemen.

After Nujood Ali, a ten-year-old girl, obtained a divorce from her adult husband, the country tried to make it illegal to marry off girls under the age of fifteen. Conservative activists and lawmakers overturned the law, calling it

English: picture of girl signing a 'nikahnama'...

English: picture of girl signing a ‘nikahnama’, the Muslim marriage certificate (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“religious discrimination” against Muslims. As of now, marriage at any age is permitted in the country, but the adult husbands are supposed to wait until the girl is “sexually mature” before he rapes her. Usually, this age is considered to be nine years old.

Child marriage and systemic physical and sexual abuse of women are common in patriarchal societies, where men believe it is their right to raise their own brides to their liking. Victims are often from poor families, who sell their young daughters in order to make ends meet. It is most common in developing nations, like Chad, Niger, Bangladesh and Yemen. However, it’s also occurred in the United States, with the Fundamentalist Church of Latter Day Saints and the Yearning for Zion Ranch.

Via Death and Taxes.

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Conflict in Yemen Escalates

Explosions threw Yemen into flux over the weekend.  On Saturday, fighting broke out in Sana’a, the capital, between forces loyal to President Ali Abdullah Saleh and pro-democracy activists who have backing from army defectors led by Major General Ali Mohsin al-Ahmar.  At least thirty people were killed by security forces during peaceful protests on Saturday and Sunday.

Protesters were trying to increase pressure on Pres. Saleh, who has been in power for thirty-three years, to step down. Saturday’s protest was met with gunfire and rounds form rocket-propelled grenades.  Many of the seventeen who died Saturday were shot in the head or the chest.

At least thirteen people were killed during Sunday’s protest.  Unarmed dissidents made their way toward government offices.  As they approached a checkpoint near the Foreign Ministry, loyalist forces again opened fire, focusing on the protesters.

This week, the U.N. Security Council will vote on a resolution that would call for the president to resign. The U.N. has support from Yemeni Nobel Peace Prize laureate Tawakkul Karman, who wrote a letter to Secretary General Ban Ki-moon encouraging him “to take immediate and decisive action to stop the massacres.”

Pres. Saleh issued a statement accusing the Western powers of ignorance.

Via Impunity Watch.

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Obama Administration Waives Ban on Aid to Countries Using Child Soldiers

For the second year, President Barack Obama has waived a ban on military aid for countries that use child soldiers.  The Child Soldiers Prevention Act of 2008, which took effect in 2010, bans providing foreign military financing, military training, and other military aid to countries that recruit and enlist soldiers under the age of eighteen.

U.S. waives aid ban for countries using child soldiers.  (Photo Courtesy of ABC News)

Photo Courtesy of ABC News

The President holds the power to waive the ban, but only if he or she determines that doing so would serve the best interests of the country.  According to a memorandum released by the White House on Tuesday, the countries that will continue to receive military assistance despite the fact that they continue to use of child soldiers in their armed forces, include Chad, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Yemen and South Sudan.

Last year, there were five countries identified for their use of child soldiers: Burma, Chad, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Yemen, and Somalia. This year, Somalia and Burma were not given waivers, presumably because the U.S. military does not have strong military ties with these countries. President Obama’s waiver will allow tens of millions of dollars of U.S. tax dollars to go to Yemen, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Chad and South Sudan, which continue to recruit, enlist, and use children soldiers.

The administration justified the waivers in terms of the relevant countries progress’ in reducing child soldiers or the countries’ importance to anti-terrorism efforts.

South Sudan is expected to receive one hundred million dollars this year for military aid.  The administration took the position that the law banning military aid to countries with child soldiers should not apply to South Sudan because it did not exist as an independent country until after the publication of the 2011 Trafficking in Persons (TIP) report.

The administration noted the progress in Chad and the Democratic Republic of Congo in addressing child soldiers. In Chad, the government issued a plan to prevent child recruitment and discharge current child soldiers.   The administration said that the Democratic Republic of Congo has also taken some very important steps to reduce child soldiers in the military.

Yemen has received the most criticism from human rights advocates because it continues to receive U.S. military aid despite the fact that it has done very little to cut the amount of children in its armed forces.  In Yemen, children who are fifteen years old and younger have been recruited to fight in the government’s conflicts.

The administration justified this aid by stating that coöperation with the Yemen is a vital piece of the U.S.’s counter-terrorism efforts. For the 2012 fiscal year, the State Department has requested thirty-five million dollars in foreign military financing for the Yemeni government.

Via Impunity Watch.

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Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie Donate $340,000 to Somali Children

Brad Pitt. Angelina Jolie.

Image by Bildbunt via Flickr

Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, who was recently recognized for her work as a U.N. Goodwill Ambassador, have donated $340,000 to the Humanitarian Initiative Just Relief Aid, which goes toward healthcare for homeless children in war-torn Somalia.

The country is experiencing its worst famine in sixty years; it has taken the lives of 29,000 children under the age of five.

On October 3, Ms. Jolie honored a Yemeni aid group and the U.N. Refugee Agency Awards in Switzerland, where she spoke about her ten years of experience with the refugees.

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Nobel Peace Prize Goes to Female Trifecta

Liberian President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf at th...

Image via Wikipedia

The 2011 Nobel Peace Prize has been awarded to Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Leymah Gbowee, and Tawakkul Karman for their work for women’s rights.

Liberia‘s Ellen Johnson Sirleaf is Africa’s first democratic elected female president.

Leymah Gbowee has worked to mobilize women across ethnic and religious dividing lines to bring end to the long war in Liberia.

Tawakkul Karman has played a leading role in the struggle for women’s rights and democracy in Yemen.

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First United States-Born Target Eliminated in War on Terror

Imam Anwar al-Awlaki in Yemen October 2008, ta...

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Yemen’s defense ministry reported that Anwar al-Awlaki, an imam allegedly linked to al-Qaeda, was killed on September 30. Tribal sources reported to the AFP news agency that al-Awlaki was killed early on Friday in an air raid that crushed two vehicles travelling through an al-Qaeda stronghold in central Yemen.

The forty-year-old U.S.-born al-Awlaki was a father of five children.

Another U.S. citizen, Samir Kahn, was killed in the air raid. Kahn was the co-editor of al-Qaeda’s Inspire magazine and wanted by American and Yemeni authorities.

U.S. President Barack Obama said the killing of al-Awlaki was a “significant milestone in the broader effort to defeat al-Qaeda and its affiliates.”

Al-Awlaki had been targeted for some time.  In May 2011, a U.S. drone aircraft targeted him but missed. In July 2010, the Obama Administration placed al-Awlaki on its list of terrorism supporters, freezing his assets and banning transactions with him. On December 24, 2010, the Yemeni defense ministry announced his death, only to admit later that he was still alive.

Pres. Obama’s counterterrorism advisor John Brennan directly accused al-Awlaki of having links with Major Nidal Hasan, who is suspected of killing thirteen people at Fort Hood military base in Texas in November 2009. Hassan will face a trial in a military court in March 2012.

Also, al-Awlaki may have had contact with Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the Nigerian student accused of attempting to blow up a Detroit-bound plane on Christmas 2009.

The news of al-Awlaki’s death comes among daily reports of new violence in Yemen. The impoverished Arabian Peninsula country has witnessed demonstrators staging protests, demanding the resignation of President Ali Abdullah Saleh, who has been in power since 1978.

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Security Forces Fire on Protesters in Yemen

Security forces under the control of Ali Abdullah Saleh, Yemen‘s president, have opened fire on protesters in Sana’a. At least twenty-six people are dead, and hundreds are injured.

Yemeni protesters rally outside of Sanaa University (Photo courtesy of The Guardian).

Yemeni protesters rally outside Sana’a University (Photo courtesy of The Guardian).

Tens of thousands of protesters took to the streets in the capital to call for an end to Saleh’s thirty-three-year rule. Government snipers fired on protesters from rooftops, and security force officers shot protesters with anti-aircraft guns and automatic weapons.

Earlier, government troops opened fire on the Al-Hasaba district, home to opposition leadership. The opposition did not return fire.

Saleh has been facing protests over charges of nepotism and corruption since January. Despite government pressure, the opposition plans to continue its protests.

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Yemen’s President Accepts Deal to Step Down

Ali Abdullah Saleh

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Saturday, Yemen‘s president, Ali Abdullah Saleh, said he accepted a proposal by Arab mediators that would shift power to his deputy and grant him immunity from prosecution. Saleh had previously said he would step down at the end of his turn in 2013.

It is unclear whether his offer to step down is a genuine attempt to quell the tensions in his country. His offer came after days of unrelenting pressure from neighboring states to step down.

The agreement would require the opposition party to stop street protests and join a coalition with the ruling party. The opposition leader, Yassin Saeed Noman, said he agreed in principle but rejected the specific conditions of the agreement. Noman also indicated that he and his party lacked the power to stop the protesters in the streets.

Tens of thousands of street protesters made clear they are unhappy with the deal.

At least 130 people have been killed in confrontations with police and soldiers during the protests.

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