The Houthi militias in Yemen have repeated their brutality against members of the Baha’i community, in the latest wave of violations against religious minorities. On Thursday, it arrested 17 people, including five women, in Sana’a, raided their homes and confiscated property and documents, amid human rights calls for international intervention to save them, and government condemnation of the incident, which Yemeni Information Minister Muammar al-Iryani described as a “shameful act.”
The new operation of oppression against members of the Baha’i sect came after the militia had previously deported a large group of the sect’s symbols out of Yemen, and sentenced some of them to death, including the sect’s leader.
According to a statement issued by the sect, the group’s militants stormed the sect’s annual peaceful meeting in Sana’a, and arrested 17 of its participants, including women and the official spokesman for the Baha’i community in Yemen, civil activist Abdullah Al-Alfi. Their homes were raided and property and documents confiscated, while the trial of more than 24 people continues A person belonging to this religion that entered Yemen in the early forties of the last century.
Multiple sources in the Baha’i community in Yemen told Asharq Al-Awsat that after the Houthi group closed the sect’s association, confiscated all their property and imposed severe restrictions on their practice of their rituals, its members chose a house to hold the annual peaceful meeting, but the Houthi intelligence, which is lurking in the sect, raided the house in While they were there, she arrested the attendees, including women.
The repressive history of the Houthi group against the Baha’i community began since its control of Sana’a, and after years of arrest, torture and arbitrary trials, on July 30, 2020, the group denied six Baha’is because of their religious belief, according to what was mentioned by the Yemeni Initiative for the Defense of the Baha’is, which confirmed that Yemen is witnessing Since the Houthis took control of Sana’a, the humanitarian situation has been very difficult.
The Baha’i community in Yemen, in addition to the deterioration of its conditions like other groups of Yemeni society, was one of the groups that were subjected to systematic collective persecution amounting to the crime of genocide for a peaceful religious community. According to what the sect’s supporters say.
The Houthi-run State Security Court issued death sentences, confiscated Baha’i property, their private funds, and endowments, and closed their administrative and development institutions. The Initiative described them as “lies,” even though they are Yemeni citizens who do not carry weapons, do not interfere in politics, and respect law and order.
Pardon not implemented
On March 25, 2020, the Houthi authority, under international and local pressure, issued a general amnesty for the Baha’i detainees, but it was not implemented, and despite the forced banishment of the Baha’i detainees three years ago, the group continued to prosecute the exiles and the forcibly displaced in absentia, with the aim of imposing a compelling fate on those They remain in Yemen, and then force them to emigrate, and erase all traces of them by confiscating their money, property, and homes, and obliterating everything that indicates them, including the graves of their dead, and through unfair judicial rulings.
Members of the sect say that the Houthi group has continued to incite hostility to the Baha’is in the media, in university education curricula, and through the cultural courses that they hold extensively “to thwart any societal human sympathy with the Baha’is for the injustice, oppression and criminality they are subjected to.”
The sect’s sources in Sana’a confirmed the continued Houthi harassment of its members and the targeting of their sources of livelihood through arbitrary and illegal measures against dozens of them and against all those who participated with them in community service programs, and this led to depriving them of job opportunities, seizing their bank accounts, and putting their names on black lists. At exchange companies.
The sect’s members, estimated at five thousand people, in the absence of official statistics.
They do not know why the Houthis are persecuting them, and they can only explain this by the Houthis’ subordination to the regime in Iran, which has been systematically persecuting the Baha’is since the eighties of the last century, according to the sources.
The sect calls on the Houthi authority to end the arbitrary trial against 24 of its members, as there is no basis for a lawsuit against them, and to compensate all those who were harmed because of that, with appropriate and fair compensation, materially and morally, and to guarantee their right to live in dignity, freedom, safety, and peace in their homeland, Yemen, and to recognize the right of the exiles and the forcibly displaced among them to Return to their homeland Yemen without any hindrance or objection.
The sect also calls for the return of all money, property, and documents of its members that have been looted, seized, or confiscated to their owners, and the opening of their bank accounts, and the cessation of restricting them in their sources of livelihood, and the respect of their right to participate in building Yemen and the development of society through their voluntary administrative and development institutions as citizens and in accordance with the constitution. .
The Houthis’ new wave of oppression against the Baha’is in Yemen, Nader al-Saqqaf, a member of the Public Affairs Office of the Baha’is in Yemen, described it as “a continuation of the persecution approach,” according to what he told Asharq Al-Awsat.
Al-Saqqaf, one of the deportees from Yemen, confirmed that heavily armed Houthi forces took 17 Baha’is to an unknown destination after they raided a peaceful meeting of them in one of the homes of members of the sect. Where they were discussing the participation of the Baha’i community in creating a vibrant environment for all Yemenis and the formation of organizations that take care of the spiritual and material needs of their community.
He said, “The attack is a continuation of the systematic persecution practiced by the Houthis against the Baha’is since late 2014 until now, and their continuous attempts to erase the cultural and social identity of the Baha’is as a component of Yemeni society.”
He added that the Houthi group continues to raid homes, intimidate families and children, shoot at homes, and explicitly threaten to kill, physically liquidate, and spread terror among women and children.
Al-Saqqaf described the Houthi move as “a clear violation of freedom of belief under international conventions, and the right to assembly and management of religious and community affairs.” He stressed that the attack is in addition to the methodology of persecution that the Houthis insist on, and an additional evidence that they are continuing attempts to hide the voice and social presence of the Baha’is through continuous harassment, follow-up campaigns, pursuing individuals and narrowing their livelihoods, in the hope of shrinking the Baha’is and concealing their identity.
A member of the Public Affairs Office of the Baha’is indicates that members of the sect are subjected to various types of physical and psychological torture in addition to their exile from their homeland. Their livelihoods, causing others to be laid off from their jobs, closing licensed institutions, stealing their property, financial harassment, and freezing banking transactions of Baha’is and those who deal with them.
In addition to human rights anger at the coup militia’s move and the demand for international intervention to save the Baha’i community from Houthi persecution, the Yemeni government condemned this incident of oppression, describing it as a “shameful and cowardly act,” according to what Yemeni Information Minister Muammar al-Iryani told Asharq Al-Awsat.
Al-Eryani said that the operation to raid the meeting by the Houthis and kidnap 17 Baha’is “is a shameful and cowardly act that falls within the persecution practiced by the militia against religious minorities, led by the Baha’i sect, since its coup against the state, in a clear and explicit violation of freedom of religion and belief and the right to organize, assemble and practice religious rites that it approves.” International laws, charters and treaties.
Al-Eryani added, “This crime confirms the Houthi militia’s move, under Iranian direction and directive, in an approach of escalation, targeting, and systematic terrorism of religious minorities, and the persecution of their followers on the basis of their beliefs.” Where the followers of these minorities were subjected to a series of crimes and violations that varied between house raids, intimidation of families, kidnapping, arbitrary arrest on fabricated charges, psychological and physical torture, enforced disappearance and exile, subjecting them to extrajudicial trials, confiscation and looting of their property, storming and confiscation of their headquarters, and public incitement against them by spreading hate speech and attempting to Undermining the social fabric and civil peace.
The Yemeni Minister of Information was surprised by what he described as “the continued silence of the international community, the United Nations, and human rights organizations and bodies on these crimes,” and called on them to carry out “their responsibilities in pressuring the Houthi militia to stop its racist practices against religious minorities.”
The Yemeni minister also called for “the cessation of all forms of prosecution, harassment and discrimination on the basis of belief, as it is a flagrant violation of international laws and covenants, foremost of which is the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and the prosecution and accountability of those involved in the militia leaders and elements.”