middle east

UN experts condemn Houthis for abducting Baha’is and demand their release

A group of UN experts has expressed concern that more than a dozen Yemenis from the Baha’i religious minority being held by the Houthis face a high risk of torture, other human rights violations and even death.

Citing the militia’s history of human rights abuses and recent inflammatory preaching by Houthi religious figures, experts including Nazila Ghanea, the UN special rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief, and Morris Tidball-Binz, the special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary, or arbitrary executions, warned that the Baha’i prisoners face harsh mistreatment at the hands of their captors.

“We are concerned that the disappeared individuals are at serious risk of torture and other human rights violations and, given the past record, may even face death sentences in connection with the legitimate exercise of their rights,” the experts said, urging the Houthis to release their Baha’i captives and stop targeting religious minorities.

“We are deeply concerned about the fate of 16 Baha’is disappeared by the Houthi militia in Sanaa four weeks ago, whose whereabouts remain unknown. We urge the de facto authorities to release them immediately and refrain from any further action that may jeopardise their physical and psychological integrity.”

The UN experts said the Houthis have persecuted religious minorities in Yemeni areas under their control for years, and have sentenced some Baha’is to death for practicing their religion.

“For several years, we have expressed concern about patterns of violations that depict a scenario of targeted persecution of religious minorities in Yemeni areas controlled by the Ansar Allah movement (also known as the Houthis),” they said.

The experts’ statement is the latest outcry against Houthi mistreatment of the Baha’is and other religious and political opponents. The UN Human Rights Office, several Western diplomats based in Yemen, and rights groups have condemned Houthi attacks on the Baha’is, with many calling for the release of those taken in the latest incident.

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