Sen's daily

August 17, 2016

Amnesty call provides update on the Bahais arrested in Yemen

Amnesty International, August 17, 2016.

Amnesty International has released a statement calling for the release of the Bahais arrested in Sana’a by Houthi security forces between August 10 and August 16. At present 27 Bahais are being detained, without access to lawyers or family visits. Amnesty states:

The Huthi armed group in control of parts of Yemen must immediately ensure the release of all 27 members of the Baha’i religion who have been detained in the capital, Sana’a, for a week without charge, in a blatant case of persecution of a minority faith.

Armed officers in balaclavas from Yemen’s National Security Bureau (NSB) intelligence agency, which works hand in hand with the armed Huthi authorities, stormed a Baha’i youth workshop in Sana’a on 10 August and arrested 65 people, including 14 women and six people under 18 without an arrest warrant. Further arrests were carried out yesterday [August 16].

“The arbitrary arrests of Baha’i people for doing nothing more than attending a peaceful community event is completely unjustifiable. It is just the latest example of authorities’ persecution of minority faiths,” said Magdalena Mughrabi, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director of the Middle East and North Africa Programme. “The Huthis must end their harassment of minorities and respect the right to freedom of religion – a right that is enshrined in the country’s own constitution and international law.”

Some of the arrested participants were released, while the al-Sakkaf brothers — the husbands of two detained women — were later called into the NSB and were also arrested. Twenty-seven still remain in the agency’s custody without access to lawyers or family visits.

The detentions of Baha’is on account of their faith violate Yemen’s obligations under international law and appear to be part of a wider crackdown on minorities by the Huthi authorities. The Baha’is were also persecuted on account of their faith under ex-president Ali Abdullah Saleh prior to the armed conflict.

The al-Sakkaf brothers were previously apprehended by Huthi authorities in March 2015 and held for two days, and were interrogated about their faith and other members of the community. They were released without charge.

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