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Press briefing notes Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights

Detention of followers of the minority Baha’i faith

09 June 2023

A general view shows UNESCO-listed buildings in the old city of Sana'a, Yemen, 24 February 2023 © EPA-EFE/YAHYA ARHAB


Spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights: Jeremy Laurence



The detention by the de facto authorities in Sana’a (a.k.a Huthis or Ansar Allah) of a group of followers of the minority Baha’i faith and a subsequent sermon by Shamseddin Sharafeddin, the Mufti in Sana’a, inciting hatred against the Baha’is and other religious groups are matters of serious concern.

Our Office urges the immediate release of the 16 people still being held incommunicado, and we condemn the use of any language that incites discrimination and violence, particularly against minorities, and often leads to forced exile and displacement.

On 25 May, security forces stormed a peaceful meeting of Baha’is in Sana’a. Seventeen people, including five women, were forcefully taken to an unknown location, and their books, phones, laptops and other belongings confiscated. One of those has since been released.

Last Friday, during a sermon in Sana’a, the Mufti appointed by the de facto authorities in Sana’a accused the detained Baha’i followers of apostasy and of being traitors, and said that if they did not repent they should be killed. We deplore the use of such language which starkly defies international law.

We remind the de facto authorities in Sana’a, that they must respect the human rights of people living under their control. Human rights guarantees minorities, among other things, the right to profess and practice their own religion and the right to a fair trial before an independent and impartial tribunal. Pre-trial detention should be the exception and should be used only if reasonable and necessary, based on an individual assessment of each case.

For more information and media requests, please contact:

In Geneva

Jeremy Laurence + +41 22 917 9383 / [email protected] or
Marta Hurtado - +41 22 917 9466 / [email protected]

In Nairobi

Seif Magango - +254 788 343 897 / [email protected]

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