Yemen: Baha’i community faces persecution at hands of Huthi-Saleh authorities
More than 20 Baha’i men and women are at risk of immediate arrest by Huthi-Saleh authorities in Yemen’s capital city of Sana’a, said Amnesty International.
“Huthi-Saleh authorities must immediately stop persecuting members of the Baha’i community in Sana’a,” said Lynn Maalouf, Director of Research at Amnesty International’s Beirut regional office.
“Huthi-Saleh authorities must immediately stop persecuting members of the Baha’i community in Sana’a."
Lynn Maalouf, Director of Research at Amnesty International’s Beirut regional office
“The detention of Baha’is on account of their faith appears to be part of a wider crackdown on minorities by the Huthi-Saleh authorities, and is making entire families live in fear for their safety and the safety of their loved ones – not to mention that they are a clear violation of Yemen’s obligations under international law”.
Last week three Baha’i men were arbitrarily detained; one of them was subsequently released following public outcry and local negotiations. According to information obtained by Amnesty International, dozens of members of the Baha’i community received threatening calls around ten days ago from the Prosecutor General of the Specialized Criminal Court, demanding that they present themselves at his office for interrogation about Baha’ism, or would risk being rounded up from their homes. Some of those who received the calls are individuals who had previously been arbitrarily detained. The children of some of the members of the Baha’I community are at risk of being detained alongside their parents because they have nowhere else to go.
On 10 August 2016, 65 Baha’is, including six children, were arrested when armed officers in balaclavas from Yemen’s National Security Bureau, which works hand in hand with the Huthi authorities, stormed a Baha’i youth workshop in Sana’a.
Baha’i member Hamid Haydara has been detained since December 2013 and accused of trying to convert Muslims to the Baha’i faith. He is also charged, among other things, with apostasy, working on behalf of the Israeli government and undermining the independence of the Yemeni state, all of which carry a mandatory death sentence under Yemeni law. Amnesty International opposes the death penalty in all cases without exception and today published the contents of a letter sent to the Huthi authorities in March after learning that Hamid Haydara was moved to solitary confinement.
Yemen ratified the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) in 1987, which obliges it to guarantee the right of everyone to have or adopt a religion or belief of their choice and to practise their religion “individually or with others and in public or private”.
The Baha’is were also persecuted on account of their faith under ex-president Ali Abdullah Saleh prior to the armed conflict.