Concerns for Yemen's Baha'i minority targeted by Houthi rebels

Houthi rebels are fabricating criminal charges against six prominent members of Yemen’s Bahai' religious minority as the government presses for their release, the deputy human rights minister told The National.

Majid Fadhil said the government has repeatedly requested the release of all Baha'i detainees held by the rebels under a prisoner exchange deal agreed at UN-led peace talks in Sweden last month.

Each side submitted 8,000 names of Yemeni people they believe to be detained, dead or missing for the other side to locate and release as a confidence-building measure.

But the Iran-backed rebels have not responded to the government's request on the Baha'i detainees.

“The Houthis, through national security and Sanaa’s criminal prosecution, are falsely accusing members of the Baha’i faith over espionage cases,” Mr Fadhil said.

The charges against them include “communication with Israel because the Baha’i House of Justice is located in Haifa, Israel”, he said.

The House of Justice, the nine-member supreme ruling body of the Baha’i faith, provides a universal direction to followers.

“Baha'i religious institutions in Haifa had preceded the existence of Israel, since the Ottoman Empire and was even established before the First World War,” Mr Fadhil said. The National