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ICC Note:

A second Christian in Iran, Abol Ali Pourmand, has been temporarily released after paying a heavy bail equivalent to $60,000. Fellow prisoner Mohammad Ali Torbi was released a few days earlier after paying the same bail amount. Both men had been forced to sign blank papers just days prior to their temporary release. Iran has stepped up the incarceration and interrogation of Christians, with the authorities often fabricating false charges against Christians of compromising national security. It is for this reason that it is concerning that these men were forced to sign blank papers.   

 

12/04/2017 Iran (Mohabat News) –  Abdol-Ali Pourmand, a Christian man arrested in south-western Iran was temporarily released on a heavy bail (approx. 60,000 USD) on November 25, 2017.

Mr. Pourmand, who is also known as Elias among his fellow Christians, served in the Payam-e Aramesh (Message of Peace) church in Dezful. Iranian security authorities arrested him on October 19, 2017 and immediately transferred him to Ahwaz, the capital of Khuzestan province for interrogation.

Three days before Mr. Pourmand’s temporary release, another Christian prisoner, Mohammad Ali Torabi was temporarily released on a heavy bail as well.

During their time in prison, both men were forced to sign blank confession papers. This is believed to be a new method used by the Iranian government to fabricate evidence against Christian citizens.

After about a month in prison, Mr. Pourmand had a short telephone conversation with his family and let them know that he was constantly being transferred between different wards in the prison. He also told his family that one time prison guards tried to force him to participate in Islamic prayer and he refused.

Iranian authorities often fabricate political charges such as “action against national security through the house church movement” against Iranian citizens in order to legitimize their crackdown on them.

In 2012, the Islamic regime of Iran passed a law that criminalizes conversion out of Islam for citizens born into a Muslim family. This has made it more dangerous for Iranian Christian converts to attend official churches. As an alternative, Iranian Christian converts gather in their own homes for worship and study of the Bible. The Islamic government disapproves of such gatherings and raids them from time to time.

Numerous Christians who have converted from an Islamic background have been arrested since 1979 when the Islamic Republic was established in Iran.

As the situation deteriorates for Christians in Iran, many of those arrested find themselves having to serve heavier and heavier sentences each year.

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