BERLIN — The Washington-based United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) urged on Thursday that the Iranian regime allied Houthi authorities in Yemen comply with their March 25 public commitment to release Baha’i religious prisoner of conscience Hamid bin Haydara, along with 24 other detained Baha’is.
“Enough of the delays! The Houthis must implement their commitment to release and drop all charges against Hamid bin Haydara and 24 other detained Yemeni Baha’is,” said USCIRF Commissioner Johnnie Moore, who advocates for bin Haydara as part of USCIRF’s Religious Prisoners of Conscience Project.
“The Houthis were right to abandon their March 22 decision to impose a death sentence on Mr. bin Haydara and to dissolve Baha’i institutions in Yemen. But, this decision is meaningless if they do not act upon it. It is also time for all persecution of the Baha’is in Yemen to end, now,” he added.
USCIRF is an independent, bipartisan federal government entity established by the US Congress.
“The Houthi commitment to freedom for Mr. bin Haydara was made unequivocally, and it must be enacted without delay,” USCIRF Vice Chair Gayle Manchin said. “Mr. bin Haydara must now be released and returned to his family.”
USCIRF said in its statement that it is “concerned by reports suggesting that the Houthi First Specialized Criminal Court will only furlough the prisoners on the grounds of the “ongoing health situation’ rather than grant them a full and unconditional release.”
The Houthi movement arrested and detained bin Haydara in December 2013 and held him in prison without charges for more than a year.
A judge imposed the death sentence on bin Haydara in January 2, 2018 and issued an order to close Baha’i institutions. A Houthi appeals court affirmed the verdict on March 22, 2020.
Iran’s regime has engaged in massive persecution of the Baha’i community in the Islamic Republic of Iran. Tehran furnishes the Houthis with weapons.
USCIRF recommended the designation of the Houthi movement as an entity of particular concern in its 2019 Annual Report.
The Commission describes its work as “to monitor, analyze, and report on threats to religious freedom abroad. USCIRF makes foreign policy recommendations to the President, the Secretary of State, and Congress intended to deter religious persecution and promote freedom of religion.”