We are deeply concerned about the worsening treatment of Bahá’ís in Yemen, particularly by the Houthis in Sana’a.
On September 15, a Houthi-controlled court in Sana’a “charged” more than 20 Bahá’ís – most in absentia – with apostasy and espionage. In a subsequent hearing on September 29, the judge asked the prosecutor to publish the names of the accused in a newspaper and ordered their properties frozen. The same judge sentenced Bahá’í community member Hamed bin Haydara to death in January because of his religion. Haydara remains in prison awaiting execution.
These alarming developments reflect the deteriorating situation for Yemeni Bahá’ís over the past two years. In August 2016, the Houthis detained more than 60 people who participated in an event organized by Sana’a’s Bahá’í community. In April 2017, they issued “arrest warrants” for at least 25 Bahá’ís, accusing them of attempting to attract people to the Bahá’í Faith. Today six Bahá’ís are in prison in Yemen and many fear for their safety given the increasing oppression of their community.
These actions are not consistent with the universal human right to freedom of religion or belief. All people in Yemen, including members of the Bahá’í Faith, should be free to live out their beliefs in peace and security.
We join others in calling on the Houthis to immediately release all Bahá’ís in their custody. Respect for religious freedom is an essential building block for peace and prosperity in Yemen.
The governments of Australia, Canada, Germany, and the United Kingdom co-sign this statement