Knowledgeable sources told Mohabat News that plain-clothes security authorities arrested two Christian converts, identified as Shahrzad Y. and Sam S. in Tehran.
The reports received indicate that security authorities raided these two Christian converts' houses simultaneously on January 9, 2013 and arrested them immediately.
Ms. Shahrzad, 25, and Mr. Sam, 27, who reside in western districts of Tehran, were arrested arbitrarily since security authorities refuse to show any legal warrant permitting them to enter their houses. These authorities searched their houses thoroughly and seized some of their belongings including their laptops, Christian books and notes, Christian song CDs, cameras, etc.
It should be mentioned that according to Iranian laws, police officers or any other authorities are not allowed to enter people's houses without showing an appropriate warrant to the owner of the property. The mere fact that the authorities are wearing uniforms, carrying walkie-talkies and/or guns and are riding in police cars does not authorize them to enter a private home. Article 9 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights focusses on the issue of arbitrary arrests. The article states, "No one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest, detention or exile".
It is reported that the two Christian converts were transferred to the detention center at notorious Evin prison immediately after their arrest. They have not been able to contact their families for a length of time. This lack of contact has caused a wave of anxiety among the families of the detainees.
Persistent inquiries by these two Christian converts' families about their wellness resulted in threats from authorities that if they publish this news or give an interview with media, the situation of their loved ones will worsen.
Sam and Shahrzad were finally allowed to make a quick call to their families after weeks of uncertainty. They said that they were in good health and would be held in custody for a longer time.
Unfortunately the news of this arrest could not be published earlier due to restrictions, limited access to news resources in Iran as well as threats made by Iranian authorities against the families of these Christian prisoners demanding that they not publicize the news. However, when Iranian authorities failed to keep their promises to the families that their loved ones would be released soon, they decided to publicize the news.
It is now more than 50 days since these Christian converts were arrested. After interrogating them and investigating their case, authorities announced the Christians' charges as "formation and promotion of house churches and holding gatherings intended for committing crimes".
Since the arrest took place in early January, 2013, shortly after the arrest of 50 other Christian converts, the arrest of these two Christian converts is also intended to increase pressure on Iranian Christian communities. A knowledgeable source also told Mohabat News that Sam S. is a university student in Electronics and Shahrzad Y. is studying English in university. It is stated that security authorities sent a letter to these Christians' universities after their arrest, which is expected to cause issues for them going back to their studies.
Prior to this, Ms. Fatemeh Nouri, another Christian convert, and a university student in Art in Tehran, was denied education for a year, after being held for three months in Evin prison.
- Unawareness of Situation of Two Other Christian Converts
In this connection, the knowledgeable source reported to Mohabat News that at the same time as this arrest, in a similar incident, plain-clothes authorities raided a Christian couple's residence to arrest them. However, they were not present at their home and authorities did not find them.
After finding out the authorities' intention to arrest them, Mrs. Shirin J. and Ali M. went into hiding and no news is available on their exact location. Unconfirmed reports indicate that the couple may have left the country.
Following an unsuccessful attempt by Iranian authorities to arrest the Christian couple, they summoned their families and requested that they cooperate with Islamic Republic judicial authorities and asked the couple to report to the authorities.
The Islamic Republic's crackdown and pressure by the intelligence services of the Islamic regime on Iranian Christians has increased dramatically. Many Christian converts in Iran are being held in Islamic Republic prisons and those who are out, are subjected to inhuman pressures and treatments. The pressures have increased especially in the last three years and caused a great wave of arrest and imprisonment of Christians. The result of these pressures was a crackdown on churches, especially Farsi-speaking churches and house churches to stop the growth of Christianity in Iran.