NZ Baha'is React to Religious Suppression
Auckland, New Zealand (Tuesday 2 October 2018)
The New Zealand Baha'i Community has joined a groundswell of international voices denouncing false charges laid against more than 20 Baha'is in Yemen, including all its national-level leaders. The group was recently indicted at a court hearing in Houthi-controlled Sana’a. “They have been falsely accused of espionage and apostasy under various absurd pretexts,” says Paddy Payne, Baha'i community spokesperson.
Mr Payne said the religiously motivated accusations levelled by the de-facto authorities in Sana’a at the hearing followed recent hate speech promoted by the leader of the Houthis. “There has been an escalating pattern of activity to oppress Yemeni Baha'is including a death sentence in January, and mass arrests in recent years.”
The hearing began with only the judge, the prosecutor, and other court officials present; neither the Baha's being charged, nor their lawyers were informed of the court session.
The Baha'i International Community is demanding urgent attention to what it, and organisations like Amnesty International, believe is a general humanitarian crisis. The international community is being urged to call upon the authorities in Sana’a to drop the accusations against innocent individuals, including women and a teenage girl. “We have every reason to be concerned about the safety of the Baha'i community in Yemen,” said Mr Payne.
“The manner in which the Houthis are targeting the Baha’i community in Yemen is eerily reminiscent of the persecution of Baha'is in Iran in the 1980s during which leaders of the Baha'i community were rounded up and killed.”