Posts Tagged ‘Yemen’

Hamed Haydara wasn’t even allowed to attend his own sentencing. Credit: Mwatana for Human Rights

The persecution of Bahá’ís in the Yemen continues to intensify. This article by Aleesha Matharu from the Wire  website explains the nature of the most recent developments in the context of its history. Below is a short extract: for the full post see link.

New Delhi: The Baha’i community in Yemen is once again stuck in a fresh nightmare – on September 15, 24 Baha’i’s were indicted at a court hearing in the Houthi-controlled capital, Sana’a.

The pattern is familiar and the charges – ranging from espionage (being agents of the UK, the US or Israel) to apostasy – as absurd and irrational as they have been in the past. Not surprisingly, at the time of the hearing, only the judge, prosecutor and other court officials were present. The Baha’is being charged were not told about the session in court, nor were their lawyers informed.

Among those being charged are a teenage girl and eight women. Many of those who have been locked up hold leadership positions in the Baha’i community in Yemen.

The next hearing is scheduled for September 29. The charges are punishable by death.

“We are seeing trumped up charges and flagrantly unfair proceedings used to persecute Yemeni Baha’is for their faith,” said Lynn Maalouf, head of Middle East research at Amnesty. “It is particularly abhorrent that some of these men and women could face the death penalty for their conscientiously held beliefs and peaceful activities.” Maalouf said, calling for their immediate release.

“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 UN.

“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 practising their Faith,” Dugal said.

In January, when Hamed Kamal Muhammad bin Haydara was sentenced to public execution by the specialised criminal court in Sana’a, he too was not allowed to defend himself against the charges that had been hoisted on him, which ranged from “insulting Islam” to “apostasy” and urging Muslims to “embrace the Baha’i religion”. At present, he is among six other Baha’is who have been in jail for more than a year. According to reports, the official charges against some of the current prisoners include ‘showing kindness to the poor’ and ‘displaying good behaviour’.


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A powerful article was published on the Bahá’í News website earlier this week. Below is a short extract: for the full post see link.

SANA’A, Yemen — An extraordinary wave of support by organizations and individuals has kindled hope in the hearts of the Baha’is of Yemen in the wake of recent arrests there. It has also revealed the degree to which the motivation of Baha’is to build unity has resonated with so many in that country and across the region. One statement of support opened with this dramatic assertion of solidarity: “We are all Baha’is”.

On 10 August, armed, masked soldiers raided an educational gathering organized jointly by the Nida Foundation for Development as well as the Baha’i community of Yemen on the theme of moral empowerment and service. More than sixty participants were arrested, among them youth and children. Half were Baha’is and, currently, it is believed some fourteen remain in prison, including young mothers.

Yet the raid has provoked an unprecedented response from citizens and civil society. Widespread coverage in the region’s media—on television, on the Internet, and in print—has also highlighted the constructive endeavors of the Baha’i community and the baselessness and illogicality of the arrests.

Two of the leading daily pan-Arab newspapers—Al-Arab and Al Quds Al-Arabi—covered the story extensively. Among the countless other news sources that have published related stories have been Al Morasel, Al Modon, Akhbar Al Khaleej, Gulf Eyes, Al Masdar, Mosnad News, Sadaa Adan, and Yemen Shabab.

“Why arrest a group of peaceful Baha’is when the country is full of arms dealers, gangs, instigators of sedition, saboteurs, spies, and lurking terrorists? What courage is there in the arrest of a group of defenseless children and youth, when Yemen is full of thousands of murderers, thieves, criminals, gangs, and armed religious militias?” asks writer Sadiq Al-Qadi in an article on Al-Morasel News titled “For the Sake of Faith, Nation, and Humanity: Release the Baha’is”.

“How does the country benefit from persecuting a group that believes in obedience to one’s country? What benefit in arresting people who regard work as worship and strive to serve the community?” continues the article.

The Nida Foundation and the Baha’i community in Yemen have been involved in programs for the empowerment of youth so that they become oriented towards the social, moral, and intellectual development of society in practical ways. Both have also been concerned with raising the status of women and promoting the concept of equality and, in particular, the education of the girl child. Furthermore, the Nida Foundation has held discussions with tribal leaders on the profound implications of peace, reconciliation, and co-existence in that war-torn society.

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