New Delhi, Sep 19 An association representing the Bahai community has urged international fora to help them secure immediate release of its over 20 members convicted by a court in Yemen.
On September 15, more than 20 members of the Bahai community, including all of its national-level leaders, were indicted during a court hearing in the Houthi-controlled Sana'a.
They have been falsely accused of espionage and apostasy under various "absurd pretexts", a statement issued by the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahais of India said.
“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 Bahai international community to the United Nations.
She said: "We have every reason to be concerned about the safety of the Bahai 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 the manner in which the Houthis are targeting the Bahai community in Yemen is eerily reminiscent of the persecution of the Bahais in Iran in the 1980s during which leaders of the Bahai community were rounded up and killed.
In a televised speech earlier this year, the leader of the Houthis vilified and denounced the Bahai faith, further intensifying ongoing persecutions against the Bahai community in Yemen, the statement said.
Abdel-Malek al-Houthi denounced the Bahai faith as “satanic” and stated that it was “waging a war of doctrine” against Islam, and urged Yemenis to defend their country from the Bahais and members of other religious minorities under the pretext that, “those who destroy the faith in people are no less evil and dangerous than those who kill people with their bombs”, it said.
The next hearing is scheduled for September 29 in Sana'a, to which the judge has summoned those absent from the first court session, among them women and a teenage girl, it said.
Nilakshi Rajkhowa, Director, Bahai office of public affairs here, said, "The various forms of persecution experienced by Yemeni Bahais bear a striking resemblance to what the Baha’is of Iran have experienced in their country. We call upon the non-governmental organizations and people of good conscience to raise their voices in support of the Bahais in Yemen."
Hamed bin Haydara, a member of the Yemeni Bahai community detained since 2013, was sentenced to public execution for his faith earlier this year and now is one of the six Bahais imprisoned in the country for practising their faith. AKV GVS
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