Pastor Benham Irani, currently held in Ghezal Hesar prison in Iran, has developed a blood infection as a result of an ongoing intestinal complication. Meanwhile, Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani in remains on death row for apostasy.
By Michael Ireland
8/8/2012 Iran (Assist News Service) – Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) has learned that Pastor Benham Irani, currently held in Ghezal Hesar prison in Iran, has developed a blood infection as a result of an ongoing intestinal complication.
“As his health continues to deteriorate sharply, he is reportedly barely able to speak,” CSW says in a media update.
Sources close to CSW report that Pastor Irani may be sent to a hospital for surgery to remove the part of his intestine which is the source of the infection. However, his family has not been informed about possible surgery or whether or not he has been sent to hospital.
Benham Irani pastors the Church of Iran congregation in Karaj. He was arrested in December 2006, and sentenced to six years imprisonment on charges of “action against the state” and “action against the order.”
CSW says: “The verdict against him includes text that describes Pastor Irani as an apostate and reiterates that apostates ‘can be killed.’ Furthermore, prison authorities and fellow prisoners have informed him on various occasions that he will not leave the prison ‘alive.’”
Meanwhile, Ann Buwalda, Executive Director of Jubilee Campaign says that after months without any motion on this case, Pastor Yousef Nadarkhani has received a written court summons, calling on him to appear on September 8.
In an e–mail update to ASSIST News, Buwalda says: “While we pray that the Iranian regime will relent and release him, the previous death sentence for apostasy remains in effect and legally could be implemented at any time.”
Buwalada explained that last year, when many in the NGO community believed Yosuef’s execution to be imminent, Jubilee campaign unleashed a firestorm of publicity highlighting the fact that Iran was about to execute a man solely for his Christian faith.
“Hundreds of thousands of people responded, including the 20,000 who signed Jubilee Campaign’s petition which was delivered to the Iranian Embassy in the Hague this last March,” Buwalda said.
“However, our efforts were not enough to free Pastor Yousef, and the greatest weapon the Iranian regime possesses has always been time.”
Buwalda goes on to say that Mohammad Dadkah, the lawyer who dared to defend Pastor Yousef, has been put under extreme pressure by the Iranian authorities and we do not know if Pastor Yousef will have legal representation at the upcoming hearing.
Buwalda said: “As we have continued to say throughout this case, the plans of the Iranian regime depend on we in the West forgetting about this unjustly imprisoned man. Rest assured that the Jubilee Campaign and our friends throughout the NGO community and the world have no intention of letting that happen.