Latest status of “Sevada Aghasar” an Iranian-Armenian Christian prisoner in Evin Prison

There are tens or even hundreds of Prisoners of conscience being kept in Islamic Republic prisons whose names are less heard than other political or prisoners of conscience or other critics and dissents.

As reported by “Mohabat News”, one of the Armenian Christian prisoners in captivity by Islamic Judiciary, “Sevada Aghasar”, a member of the Armenian Orthodox, has been in jail accused of violating the national security through collusion and underground church gatherings.

The Islamic revolutionary court has sentenced him to five-year prison terms accusing him of promoting Christianity. The sentence was announced by judge Moghiseh in 28th branch of Islamic Revolutionary Court of Tehran in 2015.

“Sevada Aghasar” was summoned to Evin Prison on July 4, 2017, to serve his 5-year prison term. Sevada is serving his sentence in the 7th ward of Evin prison under special conditions. Most of his inmates are accused of financial charges and a few of them have been exiled from 350th ward who were sent to this ward after an incident that happened in the ward due to a physical fight and the interrogation that followed on April 7, 2014.

Notwithstanding that some of these prison inmates are accused of (as ordered by the Islamic Revolutionary Court) espionage and not considered as prisoners conscience.

  • Record of arrest

Sevada Aghasar was arrested by security Guards on August 21, 2013 along with two other Persian speaking Christians, one being Ebrahim Firuzi (another Christian prisoner) in Karaj, Tehran. They were arrested in an insurance office that belonged to their friend.

Previously, Aghasar’s home had been searched by the authorities and some of his belongings were seized in this connection and had been interrogated which resulted in the arrest of a Christian convert.

Although there are no strong and valid reasons for the captivity and arrest of such people, informed sources have said that Sevada Aghasar, this Christian citizen was arrested and charged with promoting Christianity in Facebook and contacting Persian speaking Christians.
Eventually he was conditionally released on Sunday March 2, 2014, with a very heavy bail after enduring six months imprisonment in ward 350 of Evin Prison.

Less than two years after his temporary release on bail in May 2015 he was sentenced to 5-year prison term by the 28th branch of Islamic Revolutionary Court headed by Judge Maghiseh and was sent to jail for serving his term on July 4, 2017. He is in the 7th ward of Evin prison at the moment.

For years the Judiciary of the Islamic Republic has accused the Iranian Christians, especially the Persian speaking Christians, of “violating the national security or spying for Israel “ and for sharing their beliefs with others and speaking about Jesus Christ or hosting house churches in their private homes and has sentenced them to long term sentences.

As much as these house churches are seen as a threat to the Islamic Republic government, the members of Assyrian and Armenian churches are under observation by the security organizations. Christians like “Vruir Avanessian”, the former official pastor of the Assemblies of God Church in Tehran and “Victor Bat Tomerz”, the former pastor of the Assyrian Pentecostal Church in Shahrara, Tehran, who are on the black list of Islamic Republic of Iran due to their activities among Persian speaking Christians.
As per orders of these security forces, the authorities and ministers of the Assyrian and Armenian churches are not allowed to accept non-Christians or converts. Even their ceremonies are not allowed to be in the Farsi language and their prayers are said in Armenian or Assyrian language.

Moreover, the Armenian publishers are not allowed to publish the Holy Bible or other Christian books in Farsi. Those who cross this red line would face the consequences. Multiple reports have confirmed that there are always spies who inform the security organizations about the latest news and events of these Armenian churches all over the country. In case the church authorities do not comply with their demands, they would experience serious consequences. Notwithstanding that this process leaked to cyberspace too and considering the availability of social networks to the extent that the Islamic republic spies would enter the telegram or Facebook accounts of Armenian or Assyrian groups and observe their concerned individual or manager would be questioned.

In fact, the activities of Iranian Christians are being observed more than any other times in the history by these cyber security officers and they would stand against any activities leading to promotion of Christianity.

  • Political abuses by the Islamic Republic against the Christian community in Iran

It has been a few years that the Islamic Republic has been faced with great pressure from the United Nation Organizations and has received many reports from Human Rights organizations concerning the condition of religious minorities especially the Christian converts inside the country. As an effort to deny such accusations the Iranian authorities have held many international meetings with the presence of Armenian church leaders or the representative of religious minorities in the Islamic Parliament (Majles) to pretend that the status of such minorities is considerably satisfying in Iran or to say that all those reports of tens of cases arrests of such Christians and converts and the heavy sentences against them are all lies. The religious government of Iran has always tried to somehow bond with the representatives of religious minorities in Islamic Parliament especially the Armenian and Assyrian representatives. On the other hand, these representatives are left with no other options than accepting the demands of the Islamic government.

To the extent that a while ago, Yonathan Betkolia, the representative of Assyrian and Chaldean Christians in the Islamic Parliament, had an interview with Fars and Tasnim News Agencies (related to the Sepah Forces) in which he attempted to promote the Islamic Republic and said: “ peace and security is the achievement of Islamic Revolution for religious minorities and the followers of these religions are proud of the Islamic Revolution and consider it a great blessing.”/ FARSI