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Houthi accusations against Yemeni Baha’i appealing death sentence raise concerns for whole community

The Baha’i International Community (BIC) is deeply concerned for the safety of all Baha’is in Yemen following the Houthi prosecutor’s baseless accusations against a member of its community who is appealing his death sentence.

Hamed bin Haydara, detained since 2013, will face his appeal hearing on 30 April 2019 in Houthi-controlled Sana’a.

Following a series of sham trials, Mr. Haydara was sentenced to death in 2018. The court further called for the confiscation of all assets owned by Baha’is and the dissolution of Baha’i institutions. Hundreds of Baha’is face persecution on the basis of their religion in Houthi-controlled areas.

Despite calls by the international community to cease the persecution and release the Baha’i prisoners, the prosecutor has outlined a series of false and irrelevant accusations against Mr. Haydara, the Yemeni Baha’i community, and the Baha’i Faith itself.

The prosecution alleges that the Baha’i Faith, an independent world religion, was founded as a result of satanic thought, and that Mr. Haydara was intending to form a “national homeland for the Baha’i Faith” on the Yemeni island of Socotra, and it has even threatened Mr. Haydara’s lawyer, who is not a Baha’i.

“The prosecutor’s arguments do not address the merits of Mr. Haydara’s appeal and instead make absurd, wide-ranging accusations that are not based in law or in fact,” said Bani Dugal, Principal Representative of the Baha’i International Community to the United Nations.

“Instead, the prosecutor directly attacks the Baha’i Faith itself and makes irrational accusations that clearly stem from religious prejudice against the Baha’i community. Of particular concern is the threat against Mr. Haydara’s lawyer.

“These tactics are precisely the same as those used by the Iranian authorities as they have persecuted the Iranian Baha’i community, threatened those that defend the Baha’is, disbanded the community’s leadership and institutions, and handed out death sentences for false allegations.”

Ms. Dugal added: “We trust in the high sense of both justice and rule of law of the judge in this case, and that he will not give credence to the prosecutor’s absurd allegations. At the same time, these allegations deepen our concern for the safety of Mr. Haydara and the wider Baha’i community.”

In 2018, 24 Baha’is were falsely accused of apostasy and espionage by a court in Houthi-controlled Sana’a. Five of the 24 are currently imprisoned. Their case is being presided over the by the same judge that sentenced Mr. Haydara to death.

The Baha’is of Yemen have long sought to contribute to the life of their country and their fellow citizens. Yemeni Baha’is have initiated conflict resolution and peace-building efforts among tribes, programs to empower youth to better serve their communities, and projects for the well-being of all Yemenis, such as the distribution of care packages in the ensuing conflict.

For more information on the persecution of the Baha’i community in Yemen, visit here.

This press release originally appeared on the Baha'i International Community's website on April 26, 2019

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