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Iranian-Armenian Pastor Stands Trial in Iran

ICC Note: The Iranian regime has continued to crack down on the presence of Christians in Iran. The crackdown had primarily targeted Muslim background believers, but now those from an ethnic Christian background have also been arrested and prosecuted. Pastor Avanessian, an Iranian-Armenian, was arrested as part of a large wave of arrests this past Christmas. He has undergone harsh interrogation and been prevented from speaking with other Christians while awaiting final sentencing.

9/11/2013 Iran (Mohabat News) - According to Iranian Christian news agency, "Mohabat News", Pastor Avanessian's trial was held in the morning of September 7, 2013 in branch 26 of the Revolutionary Court in Tehran.

Accroding to the report, the initial trial was held behind closed doors.

It has been reported that his charges announced in the court session included "action against national security" and "proselytizing Farsi-speaking citizens".

The report adds that the court banned him from any form of contact with Christians or holding any worship services until the judge issues his final verdict in future court sessions.

Vruir Avanessian is an official Iranian-Armenian pastor. Plain-clothes Iranian security authorities had arrested him on December 27, 2012, in an organized raid on a Christmas celebration for worship held in a house in Tehran.

Also in this raid, 50 other Farsi-speaking Christian attendees had been arrested. They were all released after filling out some prepared forms.

Another Christian convert arrested that night was Mohammad-Hadi Mostafa Bordbar. On June,9, 2013, branch 26 of the Revolutionary Court sentenced him to ten years in prison for spreading Christian thoughts intended to undermine Islamic regime through underground Christian gatherings.

When Pastor Avanessian, who is 61 years old, was arrested he was in immediate need of medical attention. He was subject to severe interrogation during the time of his detention. Also, he was transferred to hospital a few times in prison uniform, although his charges were not proven yet. After Christian communities and Human Rights activists expressed their protest against Pastor Avanessian's arrest and his news was spread by Farsi and English news services, he was temporarily release on bail. He remained under detention for 15 days.

He is now retired after having served 17 years as an official Pastor at Persian and Armenian churches. He is suffering from severe heart disease and has undergone several surgeries. Besides being a pastor he was also a Christian singer. However, high dose of medications has had negative effects on his vocal cords making him unable to continue singing Christian songs and preaching at church.

Before coming to faith in Jesus Christ, and in his young ages, Pastor Avanessian was a popular and widely known Armenian singer. He saw amazing miracles in his life through Jesus and consequently dedicated his life to the church. Being a talented young artist, he became a worship leader at the Central Assemblies of God Church and used his art to glorify God ever since.

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