09/09/2021 Iran (International Christian Concern) – While gathering for a church prayer meeting, Ahmad Sarparast, Morteza Mashoodkari, and Ayoob Poor-Rezazadeh were arrested around 10 pm on September 5. Intelligence officers raided the home and transferred the three Christian converts to an unknown location for interrogation.
The converts were arrested in Rasht, where the Christian convert community has been heavily impacted by persecution. Currently, 11 local Christians are serving long prison sentences, including Pastor Yousef Nadarkhani. Another Rasht local, Mohammadreza Omidi (Youhan), is living in internal exile and four more are currently awaiting their sentencing.
Nine of the eleven Christians are serving five-year sentences for their participation and leadership in house churches and are accused of “acting against national security”. Raids on homes and house churches in January and February 2019 resulted in the arrests of the majority of converts currently serving time from Rasht.
Over the past few weeks, the nine, currently at Evin Prison, have also been threatened with forced transfers to different prisons. Although they have the potential to be closer to home, the Christians would need to pay for their own transportation. Some are concerned that the transfer would also harm their retrial, appeal or leave requests. Despite the horrors of Evin prison, a smaller prison is less likely to separate political prisoners, like Christian converts, from the dangerous criminals serving time.
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