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HRW condemns Houthi crackdown on Baha’is

November 30, 2016 at 4:58 pm

Human Rights Watch has condemned the Houthis’ persecution of members of the Baha’i faith in Yemen.

“Arresting someone on the basis of their religious beliefs or compelling them to give up those beliefs as a condition of release is an abuse of the right to freedom of religion,” Leah Whitson, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch said. “If they want to show their commitment to basic rights, the Houthis should allow Yemen’s Baha’i community to practice their beliefs.”

The Houthis conducted a mass arrest of over 65 Baha’i Yemenis in August. While the vast majority have been released, there remains concern over the way the captives are being treated. The last captive Keyvan Qadari is said to have been trapped and has not had access to a lawyer, or been allowed to speak to his family.

The captives were typically kidnapped and interrogated, often accused of trying to get others to convert to their faith.

Yemen, which is the Arab world’s poorest country, has been wracked by chaos since late 2014, when the Houthis overran its capital city Sana’a and other parts of the country.

Nearly 60,000 people have been killed as a result of the conflict and more than three million have been displaced.