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ReligionBahaiSix Baha’is imprisoned by the Houthis freed in Yemen

Six Baha’is imprisoned by the Houthis freed in Yemen

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An Arabic translation of this article is available here.

BIC GENEVA — The Baha’i International Community has just confirmed that six prominent Baha’is have been released from prison after being wrongfully detained for several years by the Houthi authorities in Sana’a, Yemen.

The six Baha’is—Mr. Hamed bin Haydara, Mr. Waleed Ayyash, Mr. Akram Ayyash, Mr. Kayvan Ghaderi, Mr. Badiullah Sanai, and Mr. Wael al-Arieghie—are in a safe location where they can recuperate after enduring extremely difficult conditions for three to nearly seven years in prison.

Following these releases, the Baha’i International Community has called for the lifting of all charges against these six individuals and the other Baha’is charged, the return of their assets and properties, and, most importantly, the safeguarding of the rights of all Baha’is in Yemen to live according to their beliefs without risk of persecution.

“We welcome the releases today yet remain gravely concerned,” said Diane Ala’i, Representative of the Baha’i International Community. “As Yemen’s search for durable, societal peace continues, Baha’is must be able—like all Yemenis—to practice their faith safely and freely, in keeping with the universal principles of freedom of religion or belief. This is not possible until the charges are lifted.

“The Baha’i International Community expresses its gratitude to the UN Special Envoy for Yemen as well as the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. We also thank those governments and non-governmental organizations that have provided their support throughout this process.”

Related background information

Mr. Haydara, an engineer, was arrested because of his beliefs at his workplace in December 2013. Following a long court case which lacked due process he was sentenced to death in 2018. His appeal was rejected in 2020.

Mr. Ghaderi, a project officer, was arrested in 2016 when a gathering was raided. In April 2017, Mr. Waleed Ayyash, a Yemeni tribal leader, was arrested on his way to Hudaydah and was held in an undisclosed location. The following month, Mr. Al-Arieghie, a civil rights activist, was abducted by the authorities in Sana’a, and Mr. Sana’i, a prominent civil engineer in Yemen in his late 60s, was arrested in front of his workplace. In October 2017, Mr. Akram Ayyash, a manager of a nonprofit organization, was arrested during a raid by security forces on a Baha’i celebration. In September 2018, these five, along with nineteen others, were indicted at a court hearing in Sana’a under baseless charges.

The release of the six comes four months after the televised address by Mr. Mahdi Al Mashat, President of the Supreme Political Council in Sana’a, in late March 2020 ordering the release of all Baha’i prisoners and a pardon for Mr. Haydara.

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