The Baha'i International Community group welcomed the releases. The Houthis said in late March that they would free all Baha'i prisoners.

The six members of the Baha'i faith are pictured after their release by Houthi rebels.
The six members of the Baha'i faith are pictured after their release by Houthi rebels. (Baha'i World News Service / )

Yemen's Houthi authorities have released six Baha'i faith members from prison, where United Nations human rights experts said they had been held as prisoners of conscience because of their beliefs.

The Baha'i International Community group welcomed the releases on Thursday and called for the men's assets to be returned, for all charges against Baha'is in Yemen to be dropped and for Baha'is to live in Yemen without persecution.

Baha'i community sources told the men had been taken by plane from the Houthi-held capital Sanaa with the intention of being taken eventually outside Yemen.

In 2018, Houthi authorities brought charges against around 20 members of the faith, which regards its 19th-century founder as a prophet. Muslim countries, including Iran where the sect originated, consider it a heretical offshoot of Islam.

The Huthis' political wing had announced in late March that it would free all Baha'i prisoners but had not immediately followed through.

The community thanked Martin Griffiths, the UN special envoy for Yemen and the office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights for securing the release of the six Baha'is.

But it said that the six were still seeking the return of seized assets and properties and the end of all charges against them.

Hussein al Azzi, the Houthi deputy foreign minister, said the six men were released in the hope that "this noble stance would be met with more commitment and respect for the law and with observance of the general order of Yemeni society ," without adding further details.

In March the head of the Houthi political office ordered the release of the six men, but they remained in detention. One of the released men, Hamed bin Haydara had been given a death sentence.

The Iran-aligned Houthi movement ousted the internationally recognised Yemeni government from power in Sanaa in late 2014, after which a military coalition led by Saudi Arabia intervened to try to restore the government.

The Houthis, who control the major urban centres, say their revolution is against corruption. The war has pushed millions of Yemenis to the brink of famine and 80 percent of the population relies on humanitarian aid.

READ MORE: Almost 2.4 million children on 'brink of starvation' in Yemen – UN

Source: TRTWorld and agencies