Recent Arrests Signal Increased Persecution of the Baha’is in Yemen

April 21, 2017

Contact: Rachel Wolfe
Office: (202) 833-8990, Cell: (202) 643-2735, Email:

WASHINGTON —In the latest of a series of actions targeting the Baha’i community of Yemen, three Yemeni Baha’is were arrested and detained this week. The arrests were ordered by a faction within the Houthi-led government and carried out by the National Security Agency and the Prosecution Office, reportedly at the direction of Iranian authorities. These actions are part of an ongoing effort to harass Yemeni Baha’is, force them to recant their faith, and deport them from the country.

On April 17, prior to these arrests, at least 25 Baha’is received calls between 10:30 pm and midnight requesting they appear in court. In the absence of a written summons, all of the Baha’is, except one, sent attorneys to represent them in court. Mr. Badi’u’llah Sana’i, a prominent civil engineer, following the advice of his employer, appeared in court in Sana’a on April 18 and was immediately arrested. His arrest confirmed the suspicion that the requests to appear in court were a ruse used to facilitate the arrest of Baha’is.

On April 19, two additional Baha’is were arrested and detained at a checkpoint while driving from the city of Ibb to Hudaydah. One is Mr. Walid Ayyash, a well-known member of a prominent Yemeni tribe. Their whereabouts are unknown and concerns for their safety are mounting.

These developments follow on the heels of another arrest: on April 5, another Baha’i, who is an employee of the Red Cross, was arrested and detained in Sana’a.

Yet another Baha’i, Mr. Keyvan Ghaderi, has been imprisoned in Sana’a since August 2016. He was arrested in a raid on an educational gathering for youth in Sana’a, during which 60 individuals, 30 of them Baha’is, were arrested and detained. All were eventually released except for Mr. Ghaderi, who has remained in detention.

Mr. Hamid Kamal bin Haydara is also imprisoned in Sana’a. He has been detained since December 2013, has endured torture in prison, and has been denied due process of law.

All of these individuals have been arrested and detained solely because they are Baha’is, in a campaign of religiously-motivated persecution influenced by Iran.

Many Baha’i families in Sana’a have fled their homes in order to avoid being unjustly detained, including Mrs. Elham Zarai Kamali, Mr. bin Haydara’s wife, who has been working toward the release of her husband for over three years while caring for her three daughters.

There are now a total of six Baha’is imprisoned for their faith, with 23 facing the threat of imminent arrest, in the Houthi-controlled areas of Yemen. Past experience, including that of Mr. bin Haydara and the detention and deportation of three Baha’is from Yemen in 2008, suggests that, if these individuals are not quickly released, they will be subject to protracted and baseless court cases, with the ever-present threat of abusive treatment in prison, and may potentially be expelled from the country.

For additional information, please contact the U.S. Baha’i Office of Public Affairs at (202) 833-8990.