LOS ANGELES, Aug. 25, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- On August 10, armed soldiers raided a multi-day youth event and detained 60 men, women and children. The event featured a nonreligious, nonpolitical program focused on moral and educational efforts to serve the Yemeni community. Roughly half of the attendees were Baha'is. Organized by the Yemeni Baha'i community and held at the Jud Organization building in Sana'a, the event was sponsored by the Nida Foundation for Human Development.
The soldiers who carried out the raid were part of the National Security Agency. Event attendees described the raid as an attack on the headquarters of a militant group about to undertake a coup and harsh treatment was reported. Of the 60 people detained or arrested, 38 were male and 22 were female; several of them were children between the ages of 10 to 15.
Later that evening, girls under the age of 18 were released. On the following day, August 11, all but three of the remaining women were released on bail; two men were also released. On August 16, 11 more individuals were released. As of today, 23 men and three women remain in prison.
This incident signals an escalation in the targeting of Baha'is in Yemen. Prior to the raid, a single Baha'i, Mr. Hamed bin Haydara, was the only Baha'i in detention in Yemen. He has been imprisoned since December of 2013 and has been subjected to torture, abuse and denied any semblance of due process or a fair trial.
Concern for the 23 remaining detainees is still high. They were targeted for no other reason than their religion, and they continue to be held without charge. Past experiences, including that of Mr. bin Haydara, suggests that if these individuals are not quickly released, they will be subject to a protracted and baseless court case and the ever-present threat of abusive treatment in the National Security Agency prison.
Several individuals and groups have already spoken out against the arrests and detention of these 60 people last week, including Arwa Uthman, a human rights activist and the former Minister of Culture; Abdul-Bari Taher, a journalist; the Secularists for Peace Movement; and the Quranis.
For additional information, please contact the U.S. Baha'i Office of Public Affairs at (202) 833-8990.
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SOURCE U.S. Baha’i Office of Public Affairs