Translation by Iran Press Watch
In a letter addressed to the Special Rapporteur on the Independence of Judges and Lawyers, attorney and Nobel Peace Prize winner, Shirin Ebadi, called the death sentence against Yemeni Baha’i Hamed Kamal bin Haydara, and the calumny against his two lawyers by the Houthi court in Yemen, which called them “apostates” and “devil worshippers”, a violation of the freedom of religion and thought.
In January of last year, the judge at the Houthi court condemned Baha’i Hamed Kamal Muhammad bin Haydara to death for “endangering the independence of the Republic of Yemen”, and “promotion of the Baha’i Faith”. His attorney had previously said that many of the court sessions, including the session in which he was sentenced to death, were held without his client being present, and that he was denied the opportunity to defend himself against the charges.
The United Nations states that Yemeni Baha’is in areas controlled by the Houthi rebels face constant persecution and arbitrary arrests.
The full text of Shirin Ebadi’s letter to the Special Rapporteur on the Independence of Judges and Lawyers follows:
After gaining control of parts of Yemen, Houthis began to oppress and persecute members of the Baha’i religious minority, arresting some of them and forcing others to leave their homes. Among those arrested, Hamed bin Haydara was sentenced to death on January 2, 2018 for “endangering the independence of the Republic of Yemen” by promoting the Baha’i Faith, as well as espionage. His attorneys, Tarad Al-Samawi and Safar Al-Samawi, filed an appeal. At this stage the prosecutor, in a motion presented to the court on April 2, without providing any evidence, in addition to repeating the preliminary charges, declared the attorneys to be apostates and devil worshipers for defending their Baha’i client.
Such an accusation in Yemen, an Islamic country, could be the prelude to detention and even a death sentence for a Muslim. As such, not only do the court and the prosecutor prove their disregard for the freedom of religion and thought, but in essence, by declaring false charges and jeopardizing defense attorneys, they intimidate them from defending their clients and raise the alarm that such treatment of lawyers may spread to other non-democratic Islamic countries, just as this case follows the example of the Islamic Republic of Iran. In Iran in 2008 I took the defense of seven Baha’is, and in consequence I was accused of changing my religion, and my law office was attacked and faced other problems.
Your honor, I therefore, appeal to you to use all legal avenues to support the lawyers defending religious minorities in non-democratic Islamic countries, especially Tarad Al-Samawi and Safar Al-Samawi.
Nobel Peace Prize laureate, 2003