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2008 20 Jun Four Bahá'ís were arrested in Sana'a on the accusation of proselytizing. The three Bahá’is of Iranian origin who were arrested are Mr. Zia'u'llah Pourahmari, Mr. Keyvan Qadari, and Mr. Mr. Behrooz Rohani . A fourth Bahá’i, Mr. Sayfi Ibrahim Sayfi, was also arrested and faced the possibility of deportation to Iraq.
  • The Bahá’is had been persecuted on account of their faith prior to the armed conflict under the regime of President Ali Abdullah Saleh. [BWNS651]
  • Sanaa; Yemen Persecution, Yemen; Persecution, Arrests; Persecution; BWNS
    2013 3 Dec Mr. Hamed Kamal Muhammad bin Haydara (sometimes referred to in the media as "Hamed Merza Kamali Serostani ") was snatched by security forces from his workplace, at Balhaf gas terminal in the southern province of Shabwa in south Yemen. It was suggested that he was arrested on the orders of Mr. Khaled al-Mawari, the Chief Prosecutor who was involved in the unwarranted arrest and detention of another member of the Yemeni Bahá'í community. [Arab News 20 November 2020]
  • The family of Hamed bin Haydara had lived in Socotra since 1945, when his father arrived on the Yemeni island from Iran as a doctor under British colonial rule and was granted Yemeni citizenship.
  • The National security Office raided his home and seized laptops and documents. Reports indicated that he has been tortured (beaten and electrocuted).
  • According to Bahá'í estimates, there were about 2,000 Bahá'ís in Yemen [BIC website, Reuters]
  • Sanaa; Yemen Persecution, Yemen; Persecution, Arrests; Persecution
    2014 21 Sep The Houthi movement, which championed Yemen's Zaidi Shia Muslim minority and had fought a series of rebellions against Mr Saleh during his tenure as president in the previous decade, took advantage of President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi's weakness by taking control of their northern heartland of Saada province and neighbouring areas overthrowing the internationally-recognised government. By February 2015 the group had dissolved parliament and announced plans for a transitional government.
  • See the essay Allies of Convenience or Birds of a Feather? by Oved Lobel for a discussion of Iran and the Houthis.
  • Sanaa; Yemen Yemen, Recent history
    2014 3 Oct Hamed bin Haydara had been held at an undisclosed location since his arrest by National Security Forces on the 3rd of December, 2013. During this time he was held in prolonged solitary confinement, severely tortured and electrocuted, and forced to sign documents while blindfolded. In September of 2014 NGOs discovered where he was being detained so the National Security was forced to relocate him to the Criminal Investigation Detention Centre in the Central Prison in Sana'a. [Defending Bahá'í Rights facebook page] Sanaa; Yemen Persecution, Yemen; Persecution, Arrests; Persecution; Hamed bin Haydara
    2015 18 Jan The first trial hearing of Hamed bin Haydara was held. Legal and human rights NGOs witnessed tampering and interference on the part of the prosecution. The prosecutor, Rajeh Zayed, threatened to detain and execute Bahá'ís. More were arrested. [Defending Bahá'í Rights Facebook page] Sanaa; Yemen Persecution, Yemen; Persecution, Court cases; Persecution; Court cases; Hamed bin Haydara
    2105 Feb In Yemen, Houthis appointed a presidential council to replace President Hadi who fled to Aden. Sanaa; Yemen; Aden Adbrabbuh Mansour Hadi; Yemen, Recent history
    2015 Mar Clashes escalated between pro and anti-Huthis allied with security forces loyal to Mr Saleh, who was thought to have backed his erstwhile enemies in a bid to regain power. Southerners took to arms and formed resistance to further advance their cause for independence by fighting in order to defend their territory from northern control and a coup of the legitimate government. President Hadi was forced to flee to Saudi Arabia in March. He appealed to Gulf and Arab states to intervene militarily.
  • A Saudi Arabian-led military coalition of Arab states backed by the United States launched air strikes against the Huthi armed group positions in Sana’a and Sa’da with ousted President Ali Abdullah Saleh in support of Hadi's government.
  • The Islamic State carried out its first major attacks in Yemen, two suicide bombings targeting Shia mosques in Sana'a in which 137 people were killed. Houthi rebels started to advance towards southern Yemen and it was at that point that President Hadi fled to Aden. The Saudi-led coalition of Gulf Arab states launched air strikes against Houthi targets and imposed a naval blockade on Aden.
  • Over the next six months the conflict spread across Yemen.
  • In the southern part of the country, the United Arab Emirates, which was part of the Saudi-led coalition, set up its own security forces, running virtually a state-within-a-state and fuelling the south's independence movement.
  • The Houthis were dislodged from most of the south, but remained in control of Sana'a and much of the north.
  • Sanaa; Aden; Yemen Yemen, Recent history; Ali Abdullah Saleh; Islamic State
    2016 10 Aug Armed officers, masked in balaclavas from Yemen’s National Security Bureau (NSB) intelligence agency, which worked hand in hand with the armed Houthi authorities, (also knowns as Ansar Allah) stormed a Bahá’í youth educational workshop in Sana’a. The event was part of a nine day, cross country moral and educational program for Bahá’í youth organized by the Bahá'í -run Nida Foundation for Development. Sixty-five people were arrested including 14 women and six people under 18 without an arrest warrant. Half were Bahá'ís and, at the time of this writing, it was believed some fourteen remained in prison, including young mothers. Further arrests were carried out later and within a week all but 10 of those who had been incarcerated had been released.
  • Among those detained are Nadim Tawfiq Al-Sakkaf, (British Council’s country manager in Yemen), his brother Nader Tawfiq Al-Sakkaf and Kaiwan Mohamed Ali Qadri. [UN Human Rights 4 Oct 2016, BWNS1118, publicaffairs.bahai.us, UN Human Rights, Defending Bahá'í Rights facebook page]
  • Sanaa; Yemen Persecution, Yemen; Persecution, Arrests; Persecution; Youth; BWNS
    2016 Oct An airstrike by the Saudi-led coalition hit a crowded funeral in Sana'a killing 140 mourners and injuring another 500. Sanaa; Yemen Yemen, Recent history
    2016. 27 Nov In Yemen, Nadim al-Sakkaf and his brother Nader, who were detained from August 10th, were unexpectedly released from prison in Sana'a. Their release, it was believed, was in no small part due to the relentless advocacy of their wives Ruhiyeh al-Sakkaf and Nafheh al-Sakkaf. Their friend Kaiwan Mohamed Ali Qadri, who was arrested in the same raid, remained in custody. [Religion News Service 20161129]
  • Photos of the four can be found on the same page.
  • Sanaa; Yemen Persecution, Yemen; Persecution, Arrests; Persecution
    2017 15 May Hundreds of Yemenis gathered in front of the Criminal Prosecution building in the capital city of Sana'a. They were denouncing the arrest of Yemeni citizens of the Bahá'í faith and calling for their release. The demonstrations were not led by the usual human rights crew but by tribal leaders of some of the most influential tribes in the country, prominently that of the Bani Mattar.
  • What brought the tribes out was the arrest of Sheikh Walid Saleh Ayyash, who has the distinction of being both a prominent tribal figure and one of the 2,000 or so Yemenis who practice the Bahá'í faith. It was Ayyash’s faith that led to his arrest on April 19, as he was driving from the city of Ibb to the port of Hudaydah. Along with another Bahá'í who was in the car, Ayyash was arrested by Houthi forces and transferred to the Hudaydah prison. A statement by the tribal leaders called Ayash “a distinguished personality among the Arab tribes … well-known for his integrity and wisdom, for his love, loyalty and devotion to his country, for his tolerance and respect for the government and the law.”
  • The leaders had previously met with Khalid Al-Mawari, the Houthi government’s Chief of Special Criminal Prosecution. He had promised them that Ayyash would be transferred to Sana'a. When that failed to happen, they organized the demonstration. [TRACKPERSIA 25 Aug 2017]
  • Sanaa; Yemen Sheikh Walid Saleh Ayyash; Khalid Al-Mawari; Persecution, Yemen; Persecution, Other; Persecution; Human rights
    2017 22 Oct Yemeni security forces raided a Bahá'í gathering in Sana’a opening fire on the small group of people assembled to commemorate the bicentenary of the birth of Bahá'u'lláh. The attack occurred in the family home of prominent tribal leader Walid Ayyash, who had been abducted in April and whose whereabouts were unknown. The attackers were reportedly in four cars and an armored vehicle which they used to break down the front door of the house. They arrested Mr. Ayyash’s brother, Akram Ayyash.
  • This event proved unequivocally the extent of Iran’s role in the persecution of the Bahá'ís in Yemen, especially in Sana’a, which was under the control of Iranian-backed militias. Similar attacks occurred in Iran during the period of celebration of the bicentennial of the birth of Bahá'úlláh. [BWNS1215]
  • Sanaa; Yemen; Iran Persecution, Yemen; Persecution, Iran; Persecution, Arrests; Persecution, Other; Persecution; Bahaullah, Birth of; BWNS; Walid Ayyash
    2017 3 Dec Ali Abdullah Saleh, the ousted strongman who once governed Yemen and then conspired with Iranian-backed rebels to claw his way back to power, was killed after a bomb blew up his family’s compound in the capital, Sana'a. After fighting along side the Iran-backed Houthis for two years it appeared that he had switched sides to join the Saudi-led coalition. [New York Times headline Monday, December 4, 2017 10:10 AM EST] Sanaa; Yemen Yemen, Recent history
    2018 15 Sep Yemen’s Iran-backed Houthi authorities held a court hearing that targeted some 20 or 24 Bahá'ís, most in absentia, with a string of baseless charges which included espionage and apostasy. The charges were primarily made against individuals who held administrative roles in the Bahá'í community but extended to other Yemeni Bahá'ís including a teenage girl. In a subsequent hearing on September 29, the judge asked the prosecutor to publish the names of the accused in a newspaper and ordered their properties frozen. The judge in the case was Abdu Ismail Hassan Rajeh, the same judge who presided over Mr. Haydara's in January of 2018.
  • Subsequently the governments of Australia, Canada, and Germany issued a joint statement calling for the immediate release of all Bahá'í prisoners. [Global Affairs Canada Joint Statement on the Bahá'ís in Yemen; BWNS1285]
  • Sanaa; Yemen Persecution, Yemen; Persecution, Other; Persecution, Court cases; Court cases; Human rights; BWNS
    2018 29 Sep In the second court hearing presided over by judge Abdu Ismail Hassan Rajeh, three additional Bahá'ís were sentenced to death. Five of the indicted Bahá'ís were in attendance at the court where the judge requested the prosecutor to publish the names of 19 others indicted in a newspaper, further endangering the lives of the Yemeni Bahá'í community. The judge also ordered that all of the properties belonging to the Bahá'ís indicted be frozen until the court verdict was issued. He furthermore objected to a request by the lawyer for the five to be released on bail and deferred any such decision to the next hearing to be held in a month and ten days.
  • The actions undertaken by the Houthis were condemned in two recent United Nations resolutions, one of which called for the immediate release of all Bahá'ís detained in Yemen due to their religious beliefs and to cease any harassment they are subjected to. [Iran Press Watch 4 October, 2018]
  • Sanaa; Yemen United Nations; Persecution, Yemen; Persecution, Other; Persecution; Human rights
    2018. 11 Oct Abdullah Al Olofi, member of the Bahá'í community in Yemen, was on his way to the market in Sana’a when suddenly he was surrounded by armed soldiers in a pick-up truck. He was blindfolded and taken away. [Counterpunch 9 November, 2018] Sanaa; Yemen Abdullah Al Olofi; Persecution, Yemen
    2019. 2 Feb Hamed Bin Hayadara, who was facing a death sentence, appeared in a Sana’a court where he was charged with "foreign espionage" and "abandonment of religion". The judge adjourned the session until 12 March. He was among the six Bahá'ís detained in Sana'a. [SBSWorldNews] Sanaa; Yemen Hamed Bin Haydara; Persecution, Court cases; Persecution, Yemen
    2019. 17 Sep The prosecutor in Mr. Haydara’s appeal not only restated its support of the lower court decision to execute Mr. Haydara but also called to “immediately deport… all who are considered Bahá'ís” and to “ban their entry” into Yemen, significantly escalating the scope of the judicial prosecution far beyond the mandate of the appeal. In its written statement, the prosecution further requested the court to adopt any additional measures to discourage Bahá'í beliefs and their expression in the country. At a court hearing on 1 October 2019, the judge called for the listing of the assets of Mr. Haydara and of the Bahá'í National Assembly in advance of their seizure. [BIC News 10 October, 2019] Sanaa; Yemen Hamed Bin Haydara; Persecution, Court cases; Persecution, Yemen
    2019. 26 Sep By a resolution of the Human Rights Council at the United Nations the international community condemned the Houthi persecution of Bahá'ís on the basis of their religion or belief. This resolution passed just two weeks after the prosecutors in a Houthi-controlled appeals court in Sana’a, Yemen who defended a previous death sentence of a Bahá'í on the basis of his beliefs, argued for the expulsion of all Bahá'ís from the country and the confiscation of their properties. [BIC News 30 September, 2019] Sanaa; Yemen Hamed Bin Haydara; Persecution, Yemen; Persecution, Court cases; United Nations; Human Rights Council
    2020. 25 Feb A hearing on the case of 24 Yemeni Bahá'ís took place in Sana’a. The presiding judge, Mujahed al-Amdi, mocked the defence lawyer when he protested at being denied access to his clients. The judge later relented yet made access to the Bahá'ís contingent on officers being present during any meeting, in violation of their rights. Judge al-Amdi also tried during the hearing to replace the defence lawyer with a lawyer of the Judge’s own choosing.

    Five Baha’is, who had been detained since 2017 and were among the 24 being tried, were present during the court hearing. The Bahá'ís later, for the first time since their original detention, were allowed to meet with their lawyer outside the courtroom. Six officers supervised the meeting as per Judge al-Amdi’s decree. The lawyer continued to be denied access to the documents presented to the court by the prosecution. [BIC 28 February 2020; BIC 23 February 2020]

    Sanaa; Yemen Persecution, Yemen
    2020. 22 Mar Houthi-controlled Court of Appeal upheld the preliminary ruling that ordered the execution of Hamed bin Haydara. He was not allowed to attend the trial nor was he allowed to have anyone defend him. The court ruling also ordered that his properties, as well as those of the Bahá'í institutions in the country, be confiscated. [Republican Yeman dated 22 March 2020]
  • In January 2018, Mr. Haydara was sentenced to public execution. Eighteen court hearings have been held since then, and the last one was scheduled to have taken place on March 31, before being brought forward unexpectedly to the 22nd of March. This hearing took place after more than six years of unjustified detention, false and unfounded allegations, and harsh and degrading treatment of Mr. Haydara.
  • In recent years, the first instance court in Sana'a has not only tried Mr. Haydara but has targeted more than twenty members of the Bahá'í community, including members of the Bahá’í administrative structure. Mr. Haydara was one of six Bahá'ís detained in Yemen for their beliefs at the time of this hearing.
  • The case of Mr. Haydara has received widespread media attention since his detention. See Media Coverage and Statements on the Persecution of the Bahá'ís in Sana'a, Yemen.
  • Bahá’ís have been systematically persecuted since the 1979 Islamic Revolution. The Iranian state even formulated its own state doctrine in 1991 with the aim of eliminating Bahá'í as a viable community in Iran and abroad. The persecution was exported to Yemen via the influence on the Houthis. [Website of the Bahá’í community in Germany]
  • For further information see BWNS 1303; BWNS 1232; BIC 21 March 2020; BIC 23 March 2020; BWNS 1036.
  • Amnesty International.
  • Sanaa; Yemen Hamed bin Haydara; Persecution, Court cases; Persecution, Yemen
    2020. 30 Jul It was announced that Mr. Hamed bin Haydara, Mr. Waleed Ayyash, Mr. Akram Ayyash, Mr. Kayvan Ghaderi, Mr. Badiullah Sanai, and Mr. Wael al-Arieghie, prominent Bahá'ís that had been imprisoned by the Houthi authorities in Sana’a, were released from prison in Sana’a. Their years-long incarceration on charges of espionage and heresy had drawn worldwide condemnation.
  • Following their release, the Bahá'í International Community called for the lifting of all charges against these six individuals and the other Bahá'ís that had been charged, the return of their assets and properties, and the safeguarding of the rights of all Bahá'ís in Yemen to live according to their beliefs without risk of persecution. [BIC News 30 July 2020]
  • The release of the six came four months after the Shiite Houthis announced they had commuted the death sentence of Hamed bin Haydara and ordered his release, as well as that of the other five detainees. The six men were flown out of Yemen to Ethiopia late on Thursday, said bin Haydara’s wife, Alham. It was reported that they were living in “safe” locations in Europe, receiving medication for wounds and diseases that they contracted during their detention inside Houthi prisons. [San Francisco Chronicle 30 July 2020; Arab News 20/11/2020]
  • The six had been detained at various times:
        Mr. Haydara, an engineer, was arrested because of his beliefs at his workplace in December 2013. Following a long court case that 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.
        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 Bahá'í celebration.
  • In September 2018, these five, along with nineteen others, were indicted at a court hearing in Sana’a under baseless charges. [BWNS1443]
  • Diane Ala'i, representative of the Bahá'í International Community, expressed gratitude to the UN Special Envoy for Yemen, Martin Griffiths and the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights for their support. [The National]
  • Upon their release they were immediately exiled from the country. [AL Monitor 10 August 2020]
  • Following another court hearing on 22 August 2020 the charges against the six men were not dropped and the prosecution declared the recently released men as “fugitives” despite the fact that their departure from Yemen had been a condition of their release. The prosecution asked the bailors to ensure the compulsory attendance of five of them at the next hearing scheduled for the 12th of September. [BIC News]
  • Sanaa; Yemen; Ethiopia Persecution, Yemen; Hamed bin Haydara; Waleed Ayyash; Akram Ayyash; Kayvan Ghaderi; Badiullah Sanai; Wael al-Arieghie; Bahai International Community
     
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