Over 100 known activists, lawyers, and leaders of thought have raised their voices over the past week in protest of the ordered execution of Yemeni Baha’i Hamed bin Haydara, unjustly imprisoned four years ago for his religious beliefs.
Mr. Haydara was sentenced to death in public by the Specialized Criminal Court in Sana’a on 2 January. The local judge also called for the dissolution of all elected Baha’i institutions, placing the entire Baha’i community in imminent danger.
Yet, in the wake of this outrageous sentence in Sana’a, a city controlled by the Houthis, a wave of support throughout the region for the Baha’i community in Yemen has gained momentum.
Particularly noteworthy has been the response in the Arab world. Prominent media organizations there have publicized the case, characterizing the charges against Mr. Haydara as a clear and serious violation of human rights. A petition was launched and has so far gathered numerous signatures of leaders and well-known individuals in the region. The Yemeni Initiative for Defending Baha’i Rights, an activist group that was formed in April, has reached tens of thousands in the country through publishing posts about the case.
“Numerous reports clearly point to the insidious involvement of the Iranian authorities in Yemen’s persecution of the Baha’i community,” said Bani Dugal, Representative of the Baha’i International Community United Nations Office in New York.
The Baha’i teachings say:
Why should we kill our fellow creatures? If this warfare and strife be for the sake of religion, it is evident that it violates the spirit and basis of all religion. All the divine Manifestations have proclaimed the oneness of God and the unity of mankind. They have taught that men should love and mutually help each other in order that they might progress. Now if this conception of religion be true, its essential principle is the oneness of humanity. The fundamental truth of the Manifestations is peace. This underlies all religion, all justice. The divine purpose is that men should live in unity, concord and agreement and should love one another. Consider the virtues of the human world and realize that the oneness of humanity is the primary foundation of them all. Read the Gospel and the other Holy Books. You will find their fundamentals are one and the same. Therefore, unity is the essential truth of religion and, when so understood, embraces all the virtues of the human world. Praise be to God! This knowledge has been spread, eyes have been opened, and ears have become attentive. Therefore, we must endeavor to promulgate and practice the religion of God which has been founded by all the Prophets. And the religion of God is absolute love and unity. – Abdu’l-Baha, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 31.
This ruling is unprecedented in the persecution of the Baha’is in Yemen and mirrors acts of injustice faced by the Baha’i community in Iran.
Mr. Haydara was arbitrarily arrested at his workplace on 3 December 2013 and has been in prison since. His case has been notable for its complete lack of due process.
The Yemeni Baha’i community has been increasingly persecuted by the authorities in Sana’a in recent years. Currently, six other Baha’is are in prison in Sana’a and have been denied basic human rights.