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Iranian Christian Prisoners
The Iranian Revolutionary Court sentenced 18 Christian converts to a total of 23 years in prison for evangelism and establishing house churches. Such a harsh ruling once again proves that the situation of Iranian Christian converts is degrading in the country.
Mohabat News – The Revolutionary Courts in Esfahan, Rasht, Tonekabon, and Karaj have sentenced 18 Christian converts to 23 years and nine months in total over the past two months. These sentences have been confirmed in an appeals court and are final.
Confirming this report, Mansour Borji, spokesman for the Article 18 Committee, said, “Although these prison sentences are final, some of these Christian converts are determined to appeal again to a higher court”.
A number of Christian converts mentioned in this report were arrested in 2013 in Shahin-Shahr near Esfahan. Their names are: Nasrin Kiamarzi, Sarah Fouladi, Maryam Bateni-nia, Akbar Ahmadi, Bita Ja’fari, Abbas Kiani, Fatemeh Zareie, Masoumeh Dashti, Ramin Bakhtiarvand, Neda Fouladi, Samira Fouladi, and two unnamed individuals. The Revolutionary Court in Esfahan sentenced each of the above mentioned Christians to one year in prison and two years ban to leave the country for evangelism and forming house church gatherings.
Mr. Borji stressed that none of these individuals have a criminal history and they have been found guilty in a court for the first time. He said, “We did not have permission to publish the names of five of these Christian converts, so we just referred to their number and the place of their arrest in Rasht, Tonekabon, and Karaj”.
Earlier Mr. Borji had explained that the Christian converts in Esfahan were arrested in a raid on their house church in Shahin-Shahr on February 20, 2013. A month later, they were temporarily released on bail, and were free until their day of trial.
Regarding the current situation of Christians in Iran, Mr. Borji said, “The Islamic regime of Iran treats Christians cruelly, while Iran’s Foreign Minister, Mohammad-Javad Zarif, claims that no one is in jail in Iran for their beliefs. Despite President Rouhani’s promises in his campaign, not only do we see no relief of suppression of Christians, but we see an increase in the number of arrests and unfair sentences and the security atmosphere imposed by the Islamic regime on the Iranian Christian community still continues.
The first 2015 report by Ahmad Shaheed, the UN’s Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in Iran, indicates a decline in the situation of Iranian Christians. According to the report, as of January 1, 2015, at least 92 Christians have been arrested or are awaiting trial for their faith. By comparison in 2014, 69 Christian converts were arrested by Iranian authorities and held in jail for at least 24 hours.
This is all happening while Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ali Khamenei, stated in his visit with the religious minority members of the Islamic Majlis (Parliament), that based on Islamic teachings, “followers of other religions should be treated with justice and fairness”.
Although Iran’s Islamic regime does everything in its power to impose and promote Shi’ite Islam as the state religion, to pressure religious minorities and punish conversion out of Islam with capital punishment, the trend among Iranian Shi’ite Muslims to convert to other religions, especially Christianity, is ever increasing.