March 23, 2020
A Houthi-run appeal court upheld on Sunday a verdict to execute the leader of the Bahai religious minority in the latest move reflecting the Iran-backed group’s exploitation of the judiciary in areas under its control.
The verdict supports the confiscation of the properties of Hamed bin Haydarah and the closure and confiscation of the Bahai community’s offices in the country.
The Houthi appellate denied Haydrah the right to attend the session in person or through a lawyer.
Since they took over Sanaa by force on September 21, 2014, Houthi militias have used their courts in Sanaa to issue hundreds of death sentences against their political, military, and sectarian opponents.
Yemeni human rights activists and international organizations accuse the Houthi group of sectarian targeting of opponents in Yemen.
“Sectarian incitement is practiced against religious and ideological minorities in Yemen, and they are restricted from gathering and practicing rituals, which makes them vulnerable to prosecution, torture, and even killing, which poses a serious threat to religious civil minorities,” Yemeni activist Khaled Abdulkarim told Asharq Al-Awsat about Houthi practices in the country.
The Bahais are a small religious community in Yemen. In their areas of control, Houthis have erased all forms of dissent and prosecuted compatriots with different religious including the Bahais.
Houthis have also imposed sectarian changes in areas they control, where many religious rituals of other sects were slashed and replaced.
Bahais, according to activists, have been officially hunted down by Houthis since August 2016 with dozens being rounded up by the group.
The homes of Bahais were targeted by continuous raids, and Houthis confiscated their property, terrorized their children, arrested them, and threatened them with death, forcing many of them to flee.
Also, Yemeni activists believe that there is a lot of evidence pointing to an Iranian role behind the persecution of Bahais in Yemen.