Houthis continue to hold pardoned Baha’i prisoners of conscience during pandemic

Washington, D.C., June 03, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Six Baha’i prisoners of conscience remain imprisoned by Yemen’s Houthi authorities, despite COVID-19 spreading to prisons in Sana’a and warnings from the UN that the virus is “multiplying fast in the country.”

Two months ago, Mr. Mahdi Al-Mashat, the president of the Houthi Supreme Political Council, ordered the release of the Baha’is, including Mr. Hamed bin Haydara, who was sentenced to death in January 2018 on charges of espionage and apostasy that were decried as “baseless” by the Baha’i International Community (BIC), along with several human rights organizations. The release order has not been implemented.

The BIC reported that two detainees in the Central Prison of Sana’a have been diagnosed with COVID-19, thereby heightening the risk of it spreading widely throughout the prison.

“The Baha’i International Community is deeply alarmed that Mr. Mahdi al-Mashat’s order, issued on 25 March, has not been implemented by judiciary and security authorities who have not yet released the six Baha’is,” said Ms. Diane Ala’i, the Baha’i International Community’s Representative to the United Nations in Geneva.

“The prisons are hotbeds for coronavirus outbreaks due to their unsanitary and abysmal conditions and the six Baha’is, who have been tortured and denied medical care for years, are like all the other prisoners in similar conditions, very vulnerable to disease, which is already making its way through prisons in Sana’a. Holding these individuals in prison carries grave health risks and even death. It is inexplicable and irresponsible,” she added.

The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights has called for prisoners of conscience to be released to protect them from the higher risk of infection in prisons.

Moreover, UN human rights experts have called for the “immediate and unconditional” release of the six Baha’i detainees.


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