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Christians arrested in Hamedan

ICC Note:

According to Iranian television, nine Christians were arrested in Hamadan earlier this year, reports Farsi Christian News Network.

11/22/2010 Iran (FCNN) – According to Farsi Christian News Network quoting Christian sources in Hamadan province, more than two months after the news of the arrest and imprisonment of 9 Evangelical Christians was broadcast from Islamic Iranian TV & Radio; detainees were identified and their name released.

On the evening of Sep.10th; 2010; The official Islamic Republic of Iran’s Television; broadcast images from a small demonstration of a number of people in Hamadan,.IRIB quoting an Intelligence Ministry’s source, said that two persons of foreign Evangelical organizations in Hamadan, and 7 Iranian accomplices have been identified and arrested. The news was read in such a way as to suggest that the two were foreign nationals, engaged in formation of an illegal underground organization against the people of Iran

Identities

According to our sources; only eight of the arrested people have so far been identified, all Iranians without any non-Iranian name amongst them, proving the news broadcast baseless.

Four of the arrested; Mr. Vahik Abrahamian and his wife Sonia Keshish-Avanesian, Mr.  Arash Kermanjani and his wife Arezo Teymouri, have now been imprisoned for over 75 days. They were detained at Abrahamians’ residence by the agents of The Ministry of Islamic Guidance, and seem to have been followed for some days prior to their arrests. Ringing the bell, agents rush-in as soon it was opened, arresting those present and confiscating books, cars, and personal computers belonging to Mr. and Mrs. Abrahamian. On the same day( 04 Sep.2010), several others in various parts of the city were also detained; two of which, Mr. Bahman Alipour and Ms. Zahra spent a month in prison before release; but as yet, no reliable information about the condition and whereabouts of the other two detainees named Kazem and Zahra, has been made available.

There are no suggestions of anti-islamic, or of any systematic Christian activities. Vahik and his wife are Iranian-Armenians, and according to those who know them, Vahik has dedicated his life to helping the needy and disadvantaged, particularly the drug addicts. He regards it as his Christian duty to help others in need, and has opted to live in Iran even though he has dual Dutch-Iranian nationality. As a Born Again Christian; he considers it his calling to continue what he sees as his Christian work. His wife Sonia, according to those acquainted with the couple, is a cheerful and bright person and an ordinary house wife helping her husband’s charitable social work. 

New Christian converts; Mr. Arash Kermanjani and his wife Arezo, are close family friends of Sonia and Vahik. With no previous record of any political or religious activity, they seem to have been detained just because they were present when the raid took place. The charges against them amount to practicing their faith, which according to the Iranian Constitution is a recognized religion in our country.

Prison and isolation

A close relative reports that they have been kept in the notorious isolation section of Ministry of Islamic Guidance prison. Under intense physical abuse and psychological pressure for 40 days, deprived of their freedom, they could not be phoned nor visited by their family or friends; nor was anyone informed of their conditions or where abouts, even refusing warm clothing provided by families as protection against the harsh autumnal weather..

It is now more than a month since  Mrs. Sonia Keshish-Avanesian and Arezo Teymourian are transferred to women’s section of Hamadan   prison, while Mr. Arash Kermanjani and Mr. Vahik Abrahamian were moved to ward 4 of the same prison. Only after their transfer were the families granted visits and were able to bring them warm clothing. this was of particular help to Vahik who was clothed in summer times short sleeves and had suffered a severe cold in the damp and cold of Hamadan’s autumn.

Mrs. Arezo Teymourian suffered yet another psychological blow when her father passed away and she was refused permission to attend his funeral.

Prayer Request

Families of the accused are warned of dire consequences should news of them leak out and actively discouraged contacting international news agencies, and fearing official sanctions, they have so far been reluctant to do so in the vain hope of helping their loved ones. But after nearly three months of imprisonment without charge of their loved ones, and no hope their release, they request all Christians across the world to hear the voice of innocence and to pray for The Lord’s help and  miraculous intervention. 

It should be noted that Vahik Abrahamian was first arrested last February(2010) under false pretences and only after 53 days of imprisonment and isolation, plus five days of wait in general ward, and a posted 100 million rials ( nearly 10000 US$ ) bond, was he granted temporary release from the notorious Evin prison in Tehran.

 Hamadan’s Revolutionary Islamic Court has long history notoriety. Eight years ago during the presidency of Khatami this Sharia court caused a political turmoil and a major controversy in educational circles by condemning Mr. Hashem Aghajari, a lecturer in Hamadan’s Teacher’s College for an alleged speech there accusing him of apostasy. After a lengthy process this was reduced to a few years imprisonment and his expulsion from his post as a lecturer.  It looks as though The Court is heading up the news notoriety pole yet again by creating another controversial and baseless case.

 The families of the imprisoned Christians request all Iranians, and every Christian in the world to support them and pray to God for their release; they are certain that your prayers will open all the closed doors to the innocent.   

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