Washington, DC – The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) today condemned Houthi authorities for summoning 19 members of Yemen’s Baha’i community to stand trial on spurious charges and risk lengthy prison sentences. The Houthis have persecuted Baha’is and other religious minorities in Yemen for years solely because of their beliefs.
“We unequivocally condemn the Houthis’ latest targeting of Yemen's Baha'i community,” said USCIRF Chair Gayle Manchin. “This reckless endangerment of people's lives flagrantly violates freedom of religion or belief. The U.S. government must make clear to the Houthis and their supporters that it will not tolerate the systematic oppression of religious minorities."
Since coming to power in Yemen in 2015, the Houthis have been persecuting religious minorities. In July 2020, they agreed as part of a UN-backed campaign to release six jailed Baha’is on the condition they be deported from Yemen, including religious prisoner of conscience Hamid bin Haydara. The Houthis have since declared the six as “fugitives” despite having agreed to their release.
“It is imperative that the United States hold the Houthi authorities accountable for their ceaseless persecution of Baha’is on the basis of their faith,” said USCIRF Commissioner Johnnie Moore. “The U.S. government and the international community must also make clear to the movement’s backers in Iran that the export of intolerance and religious persecution is a nonstarter. In fact, we must have a zero-tolerance policy with regard to Houthi terrorism and those who enable it.”
In its 2020 Annual Report, USCIRF recommended the State Department designate the Houthis an “Entity of Particular Concern,” or EPC, for systematic, ongoing, and egregious religious freedom violations. In December 2020, the State Department re-designated the Houthis as an EPC.