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Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 18 October 2018

Britain condemns Houthi persecution of Baha’i in Yemen

The Iran-backed rebels began prosecuting the religious minority in the capital Sanaa

Members of the Baha'i faith face persecution from the Houthi rebels, who control the Yemeni capital, Sanaa. Reuters
Members of the Baha'i faith face persecution from the Houthi rebels, who control the Yemeni capital, Sanaa. Reuters

Britain has condemned the mistreatment of the Baha’i community by Houthi rebels in Yemen, after a court under the Iran-backed rebels’ control began prosecuting 24 members of the religious minority.

Defendants in the mass trial, which includes eight women and one child, are accused of atheism and spying for Israel and the United States, charges which could lead to death sentences.

“The persecution of members of the Baha’i community in areas of Yemen under Houthi control due to their religious beliefs is a serious violation of international human rights law, Britain’s special envoy for freedom of religion and belief, Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon, said on Monday.

“New cases of arbitrary detention and continuing reports of the abuse of detainees by the Houthis are deeply concerning, and we wholly condemn this mistreatment.”

Lord Wimbledon added: “We are working closely with our partners to raise these concerns directly with the Houthi authorities and press for the release of detained individuals. We also call on our partners to take a strong stance on this matter during the Human Rights Council next week.”

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The Baha’i faith originated in Iran in the 19th century and advocates universal peace and acceptance of all religions as manifestations of one God.

Many of the 2,000 Baha’i live in the Yemeni capital Sanaa, which was taken by Houthi rebels in 2014.

Since then, the group have faced persecution by the militants often on unsubstantiated charges of communicating with Israel.

Many Baha’i families have fled from Sanaa to safety in the south of the country.