Baha’is fear for members excluded from Yemen prisoner swap

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The Baha’i community voiced fresh concern Monday for members of the faith detained in Yemen under the pro-Iranian Houthi militias, saying that prisoners have been excluded from a swap planned with the government.

The Houthis who have a control over the capital Sanaa, and the legitimate Yemeni government in December agreed on a mass prisoner swap, exchanging more than 15,000 names, in a rare sign of hope in ending one of the world’s most devastating conflicts.

But the Baha’is, whose religion is opposed by Iran’s Shiite clerical regime, said the Houthi militias had balked at including six Baha’is who had been on the list.

Instead, the community said it has learned that the Houthis were pressing for an abrupt appeals hearing to take place Tuesday on Hammed bin Haidara, a Baha’i who has been sentenced to death, and for quick verdicts against 24 other detained Baha’is who could also face the death penalty on religious grounds.

“We are extremely concerned for the safety of the Yemeni Baha’i community following these latest developments and sincerely hope that the judicial authorities in Sanaa will judge with fairness and clear Mr. Haidara of these false accusations,” Bani Dugal, principal representative of the Baha’i International Community to the United Nations, said in a statement.

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