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Yemen: Arbitrarily Detained Baha’is Must Be Released

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On 25 May, armed Huthi forces stormed a peaceful gathering of Baha’is in Sana’a, Yemen, briefly enforcedly disappearing and arbitrarily detaining 17 members of the Baha’i community, including five women and human rights and humanitarian workers.

Since 2015, Amnesty International has documented the situation of 82 members of the Baha’i community in Yemen who have been detained by the Huthi de facto authorities and subjected to enforced disappearance, torture, incommunicado detention or denied the right to a fair trial.

Five Baha’is arrested in 2016 were held without charge or trial without any means to challenge their detention for over two years, until they were charged in September 2018 with various serious offences including espionage for foreign states, some of which can carry the death penalty. Their trial was part of a mass trial involving 25 Baha’is in total – the other 19 were charged in absentia, including the teenage daughter of a Baha’i detainee. The Huthi de facto authorities ordered the release of all Baha’i prisoners in 2020 on the condition of their exile from the country. However, their charges against the 24 Baha’is have not been lifted.

A Baha’i prisoner of conscience, Hamid Haydara, was released in 2020 after his initial arrest in 2013. He was sentenced to death in 2018, and then pardoned in 2020. Amnesty International raised its concerns with the Huthi de facto authorities regarding the basis for his detention, as well as the deeply flawed legal proceedings in his case, including prolonged pre-trial detention, undue delays in his trial, torture and other ill-treatment, and lack of access to counsel during his interrogations.

All parties to the armed conflict taking place in Yemen, including the Huthi forces, the international recognized government, the Southern Transitional Council, the Saudi-led coalition and UAE-backed Yemeni forces have committed crimes under international human rights law and humanitarian law, including wilful killings, arbitrary detentions, enforced disappearances, torture and other ill-treatment, and unfair trials.

On 17 October 2023, the UN Human Rights Council passed a resolution calling on the Huthi de facto authorities to “remove the obstacles that prevent access by relief and humanitarian aid, to release kidnapped humanitarian workers and to end violence and discrimination against women and targeting based on religion or belief.”


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