ICC Note: Iran’s Ministry of Intelligence has summoned Pastor Keyvan Rajabi to appear before the ministry in an effort to crack down on continued Christian practices. Several pastors have already been arrested while others have fled Iran all together. Last month, Pastor Irani, a local pastor, was also confronted by the authorities who confiscated any Christian literature including his Bible. He has since been transferred and his current location is unknown.
By: Stefan J. Bos
6/10/14 Iran (Bos News Life) – Iran’s feared Ministry of Intelligence and National Security (VEVAK) has summoned the pastor of an evangelical congregation amid a wider crackdown on devoted Christians in the strict Islamic nation, a well-informed source told BosNewsLife Monday, June 9.
“Pastor Keyvan Rajabi, from the northern city of Rasht, was contacted today that he must report to VEVAK offices in Rasht for an interview,” a close friend said. He spoke to BosNewsLife on condition of anonymity citing security concerns.
The 38-year-old Rajabi, who is married and father of one daughter, had been leading an “evangelical Bible-based congregation” in Rasht, the friend said, at a time of growing interest in the Christian faith in the region.
VEVAK agents want to hear the pastor as part of “a wider crackdown” on Christians, added the friend, who has been closely involved in supporting the congregation. Elsewhere, “Christians in [central] Isfahan [province] have had their homes raided,” he said.
“Several have fled and [Christian] Allen Dirigorosiyan has been arrested,” the friend explained.
And a church in Karaj city northwest of Tehran, the capital, “has had two of its ministers arrested in recent months,” he said. “During incarceration they have been beaten and tortured.”
Fellow Pastor Behnam Irani, who leads the 300-member Church of Iran congregation in Karaj city, was among the first Christian prisoners this year to suffer from severe bleeding due to stomach ulcers and colon complications linked to prison mistreatment, which even caused him to lose consciousness, Christians said.
On Monday, June 9, Christians said he was beaten again in prison and transferred to an unknown location in the early hours of Saturday, June 7.
Last month, Pastor Irani’s bible and other Christian literature was confiscated by authorities, according to Christians familiar with the case. “Recent events have given rise to concerns that the authorities may be planning to add charges to his existing sentence,” said Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) a major advocacy group.
Irani, who is in his 40s, began a one-year prison term in 2011 but was later told he would also have to serve a five-year, previously suspended, sentence for “crimes against national security”.