Baha’i International Community (18.09.2018) – https://bit.ly/2PSPskO – NEW YORK: On 15 September more than 20 members of the Baha’i community in Yemen, including all of its national-level leaders, were indicted at a court hearing in Houthi-controlled Sana’a. They have been falsely accused of espionage and apostasy under various absurd pretexts.
The religiously motivated accusations levelled by the de-facto authorities in Sana’a at the hearing follow recent hate speech promoted by the leader of the Houthis. There has been an escalating pattern of activity to oppress Yemeni Baha’is including a death sentence in January, and mass arrests in recent years.
The hearing began with only the judge, the prosecutor, and other court officials present; neither the Baha’s being charged nor their lawyers were informed of the court session. The next hearing is scheduled for 29 September in Sana’a, to which the judge has summoned those absent from the first court session, among them women and a teenage girl.
“The charges are extremely alarming and mark a severe intensification of pressure at a time when the community is already being threatened and the general humanitarian crisis in the country requires urgent attention,” said Bani Dugal, Principal Representative of the Baha’i International Community to the United Nations.
“We have every reason to be concerned about the safety of the Baha’i community in Yemen. We urge the international community to call upon the authorities in Sana’a to immediately drop these absurd, false and baseless accusations against these innocent individuals who have been maliciously charged simply because they have been practicing their Faith.”
“The manner in which the Houthis are targeting the Baha’i community in Yemen is eerily reminiscent of the persecution of Baha’is in Iran in the 1980s during which leaders of the Baha’i community were rounded up and killed.” Ms. Dugal added.
In a televised speech earlier this year, the leader of the Houthis vilified and denounced the Baha’i Faith, further intensifying ongoing persecutions against the Baha’i community in Yemen. Abdel-Malek al-Houthi denounced the Baha’i Faith as “satanic”, stated that it was “waging a war of doctrine” against Islam, and urged Yemenis to defend their country from the Baha’is and members of other religious minorities under the pretext that, “those who destroy the faith in people are no less evil and dangerous than those who kill people with their bombs.”
In 2016, over 60 women, men and children participating in an educational gathering organized by Baha’is were arrested as part of a mass crackdown on the religious community.
Hamed bin Haydara, a member of the Yemeni Baha’i Community detained since 2013, was sentenced to public execution for his faith earlier this year and now is one of six Baha’is imprisoned in the country for practicing their faith. Following a protracted court case and a cruel four year imprisonment, a final court hearing was held while the defendant was prevented from attending and was handed the death sentence.
It is understood that Abdu Ismail Hassan Rajeh, the same judge who presided over Mr Haydara’s farcical case, is overseeing the current case.
Despite mounting pressure by the international community, six Baha’is remain in prison. Reports indicate that the Houthis are monitoring and seeking to identify the Baha’is, throughout the areas under their control.
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