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Yemen: International officials and activists call for Houthis to free Bahais

As people of faith, we join in prayer that all other people of faith will be able to exercise their freedom of conscience without fear of coercion or violence. The dignity of the human person is a fundamental principle of Orthodox Christianity, and that includes the right to worship as one’s own conscience dictates.

“International officials, parliamentarians and activists call for Houthis to #FreeYemeniBahais,” Bahá’í International Community, May 25, 2024:

GENEVA—A powerful coalition of United Nations Special Rapporteurs, European parliamentarians, ambassadors, international human rights organizations, and a Nobel Peace Prize laureate have joined forces this month to call on the de facto Houthi authorities in Sanaa, Yemen, to release five Baha’is detained a year ago today in a violent armed raid.

Footage of the raid—which occurred during a peaceful gathering of the Baha’i community—was captured by a live Zoom call and published last year. Seventeen people were detained including five women. Twelve have since been released but they remain under surveillance and their movements are constrained.

The five who remain behind bars—Abdul Elah Al-Boni, Muhammad Al-Dubai, Ibrahim Juail, Abdullah Al-Olofi, and Hassan Thabet Al-Zakari—have faced a year of unjust incarceration and other human rights violations. Each of them has been pressured to renounce their Baha’i beliefs, without success, and has faced “re-education” programs designed to indoctrinate them with Houthi ideology, in what clearly amounts to degrading treatment and coercion under international law.

“What justification can the de facto Houthi authorities in Sanaa offer for a violent raid by masked gunmen on a peaceful gathering of Yemeni citizens?” said Saba Haddad, Representative of the Baha’i International Community (BIC) to the United Nations in Geneva. “Seventeen people were detained without due process, despite having committed no crime, and the 12 who have been released continue to suffer outrageous human rights violations and deprivation. One day was too long to put the Yemeni Baha’is in jail. A whole year is outrageous and appalling.”

“The sad irony is that the Houthis relentlessly persecute their own people at a time when they seek to portray themselves as defenders of the oppressed,” Dr. Haddad added. “The Baha’i International Community is grateful for so many statements of support from governments, human rights officials, and prominent actors around the world.”…

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