Iranian government detains more Christians in another wave of arrests
“On the evening of Sunday 13 February, an estimated 45 Christians were temporarily detained overnight by the Iranian authorities in various towns and cities, including at least five people who were held in Tehran’s notorious Evin prison,” Christian Solidarity Worldwide reports.
2/18/2011 Iran (Christian Solidarity Worldwide) – On the evening of Sunday 13 February, an estimated 45 Christians were temporarily detained overnight by the Iranian authorities in various towns and cities, including at least five people who were held in Tehran’s notorious Evin prison.
At least one woman was detained in Mashad, while two men were detained in Ahwaz, and other men in Karaj, Robat Karim and Dezful. One man and his pregnant wife were released after being informed that they must return for questioning once their child is born.
The wave of arrests and temporary detentions by the Iranian government appear to be part of the government’s wider tactic of repression and intimidation of the Christian community.
Encouragingly, several Christians who were detained in the wave of arrests that began on 26 December 2010 have also been released on bail. Those released include six who were held in Tehran and four who were held in Isfahan, including Assemblies of God pastor Leonard Keshishian. Some of the Christians have reported that whilst detained they were kept in solitary confinement for lengthy periods and were subjected to harsh interrogation. However, more than 30 Christians remain in prison in various cities across Iran.
On 15 February Pastor Behrouz Sadegh-Khanjani, a second generation Christian detained in Shiraz since June 2010 and charged with crimes against the Islamic Order, political meetings and blasphemy, was released on bail along with four other Christians from Muslim backgrounds after a court failed to reach a verdict. Pastor Khanjani now awaits a further hearing, which is expected to take place in April. There has been no update on the appeal against a death sentence for apostasy by Pastor Yousef Nadarkhani, who was arrested in October 2009 and received written confirmation of this sentence in November 2010.
CSW’s National Director Stuart Windsor said, “CSW deplores the systematic targeting of religious minorities by the Iranian government. As a signatory to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, Iran is legally obligated to uphold international standards of religious freedom for all its citizens.”