UN experts reiterate call for release of detained Bahá’ís: Yemen

OHCHR

GENEVA (20 May 2024) – UN experts* today called for the urgent release of five Bahá’ís who remain in detention one year after their abduction by de facto authorities in Yemen. They issued the following statement:

“25 May 2024 marks the one-year anniversary of the raid and abduction of 17 Bahá’ís by the Houthi militia in Sana’a. Twelve individuals have since been released under very strict conditions, but five remain detained in difficult circumstances. We urge the de facto authorities to release these five individuals immediately and refrain from any further action that may jeopardise their physical and psychological integrity. The longer they remain in detention the more dire the situation becomes, and we are concerned that they continue to be at serious risk of torture and other human rights violations, including acts tantamount to enforced disappearance.

We further note with concern that the 12 released Baháʼís have had to sign pledges to not communicate with other Baháʼís, to refrain from engaging in any Bahá’í activities, and are not allowed to leave their hometowns without permission. Some have also experienced severe pressure to recant their religious beliefs. We call on the de facto authorities to restore their freedom of religion or belief and their freedom of movement immediately.

For several years, we have expressed concern about patterns of violations that depict a scenario of targeted persecution of religious minorities in Yemeni areas controlled by the Ansar Allah movement (also known as the Houthis).

On various occasions, Baháʼís and members of other religious minorities have been subjected to detention, torture, acts tantamount to enforced disappearance, and ill-treatment by the de facto authorities in violation of their rights to freedom of expression and opinion, of peaceful assembly and of association. Some were sentenced to death for professing their religion in judicial proceedings that failed to meet fair trial guarantees.

Violations against religious or belief minorities are exacerbated by hate speech, including by the Houthi Grand Mufti of Sana’a that may amount to incitement to hatred, hostility and discrimination on the basis of religion or belief.

Hate speech and incitement to hatred, hostility and discrimination against religious minorities are intended to drive a wedge in society, which is particularly worrying at a time when peace negotiations are underway. Such expressions threaten the life and integrity of the entire Baháʼí community, and those of other religious or belief minorities in the country.”

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