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Mostafa Bordbar sentenced to 10 years in prison (MohabatNews)

(MohabatNews) 08 August 2013 - Branch 26 of the Revolutionary Court in Tehran sentenced Mohammad-Hadi (Mostafa) Bordbar, an Iranian Christian convert, to ten years in prison.

According to Mohabat News, Mohammad-Hadi (Mostafa) Bordbar, a Christian convert resident of Rasht, was tried by Judge Pir-Abbasi on the morning of June 9, 2013 in branch 26 of the Revolutionary Court in Tehran. Mr. Bordbar had been arrested during Christmas holidays on December 27, 2012.

According to the documentation and reports received by Mohabat News from the court's ruling, Mostafa Bordbar was sentenced to 5 years in prison for membership in a so-called "anti-security organization" and an additional 5 years for gathering with intent to commit crimes against Iranian national security.

The ruling was issued in branch 26 of the Revolutionary Court of Tehran by Judge Pir-Abbasi and was delivered to Mr. Bordbar's lawyer, Shima Ghousheh, on July 31, 2013.

An eight pages report is available from the court session regarding the verdict. However, to be concise a short summery of it is provided below, including the charges levied against him.

It should be mentioned that there are names of Christian individuals, activists and ministries which cannot be shared here for the sake of confidentiality (the documents are kept by Mohabat News).

- A Summary of Charges:

  • The report defines Christian evangelical activities as Zionism which are used to fight the Islamic regime of Iran through the establishment of evangelical ministries and organizations and holding underground worship meetings.
  • Mostafa Bordbar's baptism in house of someone named Sh. Gh. by Pastor V. 
  • Continuing attendance in house churches organized by a Korean lady referred to as S.
  • Holding, leading, and administering weekly house church gatherings in Gilan, Karaj, and Esfahan. Also providing believers in other cities with evangelical material.
  • Sending Christian material to Khorasan-e-Razavi province with the help of a person named J.
  • Confession that he has travelled to neighbouring countries of Turkey and Armenia and been in contact with a few Christian men (their names are held confidential) affiliated with Christian Zionism.
  • Translating and dubbing five movies related to Christian evangelism in cooperation with Misters A., M. and Ms. G. for Christian TV channels.
  • Clear confession of the accused in court that he has left Islam and converted to Christianity.
  • Clear confession of the accused that he considers evangelism as a duty of his.
  • Confession that he has distributed 12 thousand red, pocket-sized gospels .
  • Discovery of 6 thousand Gospels and Gospel CDs and other books and CDs related to Christianity in his house.
  • Keeping gospels secretly and hiding them from authorities. The accused has confessed that he hid gospels for fear of them being burned by Islamic authorities.

It is worthy to note that Mr. Bordbar and about 50 other Farsi-speaking Christian converts had gathered in a house in northern Tehran to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ and worship, when 15 plain-clothes security officers raided the house. Everyone in attendance was kept there for hours. After interrogating them at the place, most of them were released. The incident also led to the arrest of the Iranian-Armenian pastor, Vruir Avanessian.

Mr. Bordbar had also been arrested in 2009 in Rasht for converting to Christianity and attending a house church. Also, branch 1 of the Rasht court found him guilty of "apostasy". He was then released after posting bail of 200 million Rials. However, the apostasy conviction remained in his criminal record. Later when he attempted to register a technical company to provide a living, he was not given a criminal clearance paper and so was not permitted to register his company. The paper given to him by the police stated that he "is found guilty of apostasy and this is kept in his criminal record" (supporting document is held confidential by Mohabat News).

- Appeals Court

According to a source close to Mr. Bordbar, his lawyer, Shima Ghousheh, a member of the Iranian Human Rights Commission, stated that she is working on an appeal to submit to the court.

Expressing her protest to the ruling, she said that both convictions resulting in a total sentence of 10 years in prison are actually the same and that her client is being convicted twice for one charge. At the same time she expressed hope that the appeals court will overturn the guilty verdict.

After issuing the ruling, the Revolutionary Court announced that appeals to the decision may be submitted within 20 days of its issue.

The Iranian Constitution recognizes the rights of religious minorities, including Christians. However, the Islamic regime of Iran prosecutes those who convert to Christianity from Islam.

Persecution of Iranian Christian converts has been considerably on the rise since 2012. Many pastors and Christian activists have been arrested in recent years and given lengthy prison sentences as the number of Christian converts is increasing and the network of underground house churches is spreading at a faster rate.

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(MN)  http://www.mohabatnews.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=7290:iranian-christian-activist-sentenced-to-ten-years-in-prison&catid=36:iranian-christians&Itemid=279

 8 Christians jailed in Iran (Fides)

(Fides) 22 July 2013 - Shiraz (Agenzia Fides) - Eight evangelical Christians in Shiraz were sentenced to jail after being found guilty of "action against the national security" and "propaganda against the order of the system". The news was given, in a note sent to Fides Agency by the Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW), committed to the defense of religious freedom. The sentence was given on Tuesday, July 16. Seven of them were arrested on October 12, 2012 during an evening raid by the security services on a house in Shiraz where a prayer service was underway. Those arrested were later released on bail. The sentences imposed by the court vary from six to one year in prison. It is expected that the prisoners appeal their convictions. In a statement, the National Council of the Church of Iran said that these charges are "entirely without foundation". "In accordance with the Gospel," the statement said, "the Church is apolitical. However, as loyal citizens we will continue to pray for our leaders and for peace and reconciliation in our nation". 

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(Fides)  http://www.fides.org/en/news/34008-ASIA_IRAN_Eight_Christians_sentenced_for_actions_against_the_national_security#.UezSoNLe5m4

Mostafa Bordbar faces 2 to 10 years in prison for hosting church gathering in Iran (MohabatNews) 

(MohabatNews) 08 July 2013 -According to Mohabat News reporters, the trial of Mohammad Hadi (Mostafa) Bordbar was held on June 9, 2013 at branch 26 of the Revolutionary Court of Tehran, judged by Mr. Pir-Abbasi. Mostafa Bordbar is a resident of Rasht and was arrested on December 27, 2012.

The court announced his charges as "illegal gathering and participating in a house church". As Ms. Shima Qousheh, his lawyer and a member of Iranian Human Rights Commission says, if Mr. Bordbar is found guilty, he can be sentenced to anywhere from 2 to 10 years in prison. However, the court has not issued its final verdict yet.

Minutes before his trial, while handcuffed and in prison uniform, he was allowed to have a short visit with his fiancé and his parents. However, no one other than his lawyer was allowed to enter the court room. He is currently held in ward 350 of Evin prison where other Christian prisoners, Farshid Fathi, Saeed Abedini andAlireza Seyyedian are held as well.

Mr. Bordbar who is 27 years old, was arrested when Iranian security authorities attacked a Christian house gathering held to celebrate Christmas and the New Year.

Five years before that incident, he had also been arrested in Rasht for converting to Christianity and participating in a house church. His interrogator at the time, condemned him for "apostasy". However, he was temporarily released on bail after his case passed through all legal processes. This condemnation still remain in his record (the supporting document has been received by Mohabat News).

Judge Pir-Abbas, the judge working on Mr. Bordbar's case, is the one who sentenced Saeed Abedini, the Iranian-American pastor, to eight years in prison for "starting a house church aimed to disrupt national security".

Prior to this, three Christian prisoners, Mostafa Borbar, Farshid Fathi and Alireza Seyyedian wrote a letter to the newly elected Iranian president, Mr. Hassan Rouhani expressing their hope for religious freedom under his presidency. They wrote to him, "We hope that under your presidency we won't have to suffer for our faith in Jesus Christ and his Gospel".

In their letter to Mr. Rouhani they also wrote that, "When you take control of this respectful position, we hope that with God's help, respect and honor will return to the name of Iran and freedom will be given back to religious minorities, especially Christians".

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(MohabatNews)  http://www.mohabatnews.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=7122%3Achristian-convert-tried-in-tehran&catid=36%3Airanian-christians&Itemid=279

Six Iranian converts to Christianity sentenced to prison (ASSIST)

(ASSIST) 19 June 2013 - With so much attention focused on Iran's presidential election, there was “minimal” media coverage of the recent conviction of six Christian believers.

 

According to Mohabat Iranian Christian News Agency, the Revolutionary Court in Shiraz convicted Mojtaba Seyyed-Alaedin Hossein, Mohammad-Reza Partoei (Koorosh), Vahid Hakkani and Homayoun Shokouhi.

 

The four men were found guilty of attending a house church, spreading Christianity, having contact with foreign ministries, propaganda against the regime and disrupting national security. Each was sentenced to three year and eight months in prison.

In addition, Mohabat News reported, Homayoun Shokouhi and Mojtaba Seyyed-Alaedin Hossein were sentenced to eight more months in prison.

Fariba Nazemina and her 17 year old son, Nima Shokouhi, each received a two year suspended prison sentence.

Mohabat News said the sentence these individuals received is what is known as an “initial” one, meaning they have 20 days to appeal the ruling if they wish.

Mohabat News said after this ruling was made, all contact with these individuals is lost.

Mohabat News said the sentences were handed down while headlines focused on the Iranian presidential election.

Mohabat News commented, “It seems that the Iranian Intelligence organizations have been actively pursuing their intentions during the past one and a half months of presidential election activities to pressure non-Muslim Iranians (in) the most severe form possible. With people and media so much engaged in elections, this time is a golden opportunity for Iran's Islamic regime to resume religious minority cases.”

In another story of persecution, Mohabat News said the agency earlier published a story about the critical health condition of another Christian prisoner, Vahid Hakkani. He has internal bleeding in his digestive system.

Mohabat News said reports indicate that the judicial authorities of Fars province have not taken action to alleviate the problem, and Hakkani's situation is worsening.

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(ASSIST)  http://www.assistnews.net/Stories/2013/s13060078.htm

Christian pastor Robert Asseriyan arrested in Iran (Mohabat)

(Mohabat) 22 May 2013 -Following the recent increased pressure of Islamic regime of Iran on Christians, aiming to further restrict Christians, plain-cloth security authorities raided Pastor Robert Asseriyan's house to arrest him. Unsuccessful to find him at his house, they went after him to the Central AOG church where he is a church leader.

The security authorities arrived at church while Pastor Asseriyan was in the middle of a church service. They arrested him immediately and took him away to an unknown location.

According to the report Mohabat News has received, the security authorities also searched his house thoroughly and confiscated some of his personal belongings, including his personal computer and Christian theological books.

Pastor Asseriyan is an Iranian-Armenian Christian psychologist, author, and translator. He is also a member of governing council of the Central Assemblies of God church of Tehran, serving there as a teacher and administrator of the Bible school at the Farsi-speaking AOG church. He has translated numerous valuable Christian theology books, which have been published by domestic publishers in Iran.

After his arrest, the church's weekly worship meetings were cancelled. Prior to that, the meetings used to be held every Tuesday from 5:30 pm to 7:30 pm. As one of the local Christians told Mohabat News, he found the doors of the church closed on Tuesday when he went there for the routine weekly meetings. He was told the meetings will not be held until further notice.

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(Mohabat)  http://www.mohabatnews.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=6867:aog-leader-arrested-during-church-service-in-tehran&catid=36:iranian-christians&Itemid=279

Iranian Christian prisoner denied surgery (WorthyNews)

(WN) 17 May 2013 - A Christian prisoner suffering internal bleeding has been denied proper medical attention in Iran, according to Barnabas Aid.

According to his prison doctors, Vahid Hakkani — who has been detained since his arrest in February 2012 — urgently needs surgery, but Iranian officials have refused to transfer him to a hospital.

Hakkani is on a ward for prisoners of conscience, many of whom also suffer physical and mental health issues as a result of its poor prison conditions.

Hakkani was arrested at a house church gathering along with a number of other Christians; although they were all accused of evangelizing and promoting Christianity, having contact with foreign Christian organisations and disturbing national security, to date none of them has been convicted of any offence.

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(WN) http://www.worthynews.com/12275-iranian-christian-prisoner-denied-surgery

Ebrahim Firouzi released from prison (MohabatNews)

(MohabatNews) 07 May 2013 - According to a Mohabat News correspondent, Ebrahim Firouzi has been temporarily released on bail of 30 million Tomans (approximately 20,000 USD) on April 29, 2013, after spending 53 days in Evin prison.

Iranian security authorities had arrested the 28 year old Christian convert for the second time at his workplace on March 7, 2013, confiscating his personal belongings, including his computer and some Christian literature.

His family was unaware of his whereabouts for one week after his arrest. During their investigations, Firouzi's family heard from an official at Robat-Karim court that his arrest was in connection with the arrest of a number of other Christians at Christmas 2012, in Tehran.

Prison and judicial officials had charged Ebrahim Firouzi with launching and administering a Christian missionary website, distributing Bibles, cooperating with student activists and taking actions against national security.

Also, cooperating with "Mohabat News" was the basis for one of Mr. Firouzi's charges.

After his arrest, Mr. Firouzi was transferred to ward 209 of Evin prison where he was subjected to interrogation for 10 days. He was then transferred to ward 350 and put in the same cell as Saeed Abedini,Farshid FathiMostafa Bordbar and other prisoners of conscience.

Since he is temporarily released on bail, Mr. Firouzi should wait to be called for his trial. It has been reported that his next court appearance is scheduled to be held on June 19.

Ebrahim Firouzi currently resides in Robat-Karim, a town 20 KM southwest of Tehran. Prior to his second arrest, he had been arrested on January 11, 2011, and conditionally released after 10 months.

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(MN)  http://www.mohabatnews.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=6751:ebrahim-firouzi-temporarily-released-from-prison&catid=36:iranian-christians&Itemid=279

Ebrahim Firouzi, a Christian Convert, Arrested for Second Time

(MN) 19 March 2013The Christian convert was arrested for the second time. Christians in Iran, especially Christian converts, conclude Persian year 1391, and like in previous years, they face increasing pressure and threats from the Islamic regime of Iran.

Mohabat News – As we approach the end of Persian year 1391, we see a wave of attacks and anti-Christian statements from senior religious authorities of the Islamic regime. Following that, government supported media played a key role in provoking security authorities against Christians. Above all was the security and judicial authorities' crack down on newly converted Christians. We have observed a more organized crackdown by these authorities in the past year. Increasing arrests and pressure on those who converted from Islam to Christianity, especially newly converted ones is only a small part of the Islamic regime's plan to suppress dissidents.

Ebrahim Firouzi who is 28 years old, is a Christian convert. He disappeared and his family and friends did not know where he was or what had happened to him for days. His family's concern grew when they could not find him after contacting all his friends and not seeing him at his workplace. All they could find out was that he had been arrested by some plain-clothes officers on his way to work.

According to Mohabat News correspondents, Ebrahim Firouzi was arrested by some plain-clothes security authorities on March 7, in the final days of the Persian year.

He resides in Robat-Karim, 20 KM south-west of Tehran. This is the same town where Sattar Beheshti, a laborer and blogger, was arrested by Iranian cyber-police and eventually tortured to death in prison.

After visiting numerous police stations, hospitals and other placing where they thought there was a possibility to find him, Firouzi's family found out that he had been arrested by security authorities. They eventually did find him and his father was able to have a short visit with him at the court of Robat-Karim. His father saw him in prison clothes with his hair shaved.

- Reasons for Ebrahim Firouzi's Arrest

After asking security authorities many times, Mr. Firouzi's family was not told why he had been arrested. However, an authority in the Robat-Karim court told them informally that his arrest was related to the arrest of a number of Christians at Christmas 2012. They were referring to last Christmas when 50 Christian converts were arrested temporarily by plain-clothes security authorities. Pastor Vruir Avanessian, an Iranian-Armenian Christian, was arrested in the same incident. The 60-year-old pastor was conditionally released after 15 days due to his health problems. A property title deed valued more than 150 million Tomans (approximately 50,000 USD) was submitted for his release. He was conditionally released from Evin prison on January 10, 2013.

An authority told Mr. Firouzi's father that his son could be released on a 50 million Tomans bail. However, because of his family's inability to provide the requested bail, he remains in prison. The latest reports indicate that Mr. Firouzi has been transferred to the notorious Evin prison in Tehran.

This is the second time he has been arrested and this time he was arrested near Persian New Year. Earlier,he had been arrested on January 11, 2011, held under arrest for 10 months and eventually released conditionally. He had been arrested as part a crackdown on Christians in which over 60 Christian converts were arrested in Tehran and other cities. Among them was Farshid Fathi, who was later sentenced to six years in prison. He is currently serving his sentence in Evin prison.

At that time, Firouzi's case was opened at branch 102 of the Revolutionary Court of Robat-Karim for propagating against the regime, desecrating Islamic holy figures, and for acting against national security. The court condemned him according to article 500 of the Islamic Penal Code and sentenced him to 10 months in prison. It is also worth mentioning that when he was transferred to the police station of Robat-Karim to be sent to the court, a police officer beat him. Also, because he was not able to afford a lawyer, he was tried without a lawyer defending him.

According to the court's ruling, as Article 25 of the Islamic Penal Code suggests, the time he had already spent in prison was taken into account and his sentence was changed to a three year suspended sentence, meaning he will be released but in case of committing anything against the law, he will have to serve the three year sentence first and then be judged for the new crime.

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 http://www.mohabatnews.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=6519:ebrahim-firouzi-a-christian-convert-arrested-for-second-time&catid=36:iranian-christians&Itemid=279

Saeed Abedini, Iranian/US pastor facing death in Evin prison (ACLJ)

          (ACLJ) 14 January 2013 - American Pastor Saeed Abedini, who is being held in one of Iran’s most abusive prisons because of his Christian faith, faces a new challenge.  His case was just transferred to a judge who is notorious for violating human rights.

Over this past weekend, the case of American Pastor Saeed Abedini was referred by the local Iranian prosecutor to Branch 26 of the Tehran Revolutionary Court.  The case was assigned to Judge Pir-Abassi, a judge notorious for his harsh sentences against those who exercise their fundamental freedoms. In the international law arena, Judge Pir-Abassi is often referred to as one of Iran’s "hanging judges" for the numerous individuals he has sent to the gallows.

In April 2011, the European Union named Judge Pir-Abassi as an individual subject to sanctions for human rights violations.  According to the Official Journal of the European Union, Judge Pir-Abassi presided over numerous unfair trials of human rights activists following the 2009 election, handing down long prison sentences and several death sentences to those convicted.

Additionally, the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom recommended to the State Department in its 2012 Annual report that the U.S. government similarly issue sanctions against Judge Pir-Abassi.  The Commission stated that Judge Pir-Abassi is “responsible for particularly severe violations of religious freedom” and the U.S. should “continue to bar from entry into the United States and freeze [his and his immediate family members’] assets.”  The U.S. State Department has not, to date, sanctioned Judge Pir-Abassi.

And although the State Department is aware that an American citizen’s fate lies in the hands of a noted human rights abuser, it remains inactive.  To date, the State Department, while acknowledging the case, has thus far refused to take decisive action on this American citizen’s behalf.  It is an absolute travesty that the U.S. government would standby idly while an American citizen, detained for his exercise of a fundamental human right, deteriorates in an Iranian prison.

 

This new development is highly troubling—it appears Iran is determined to remove any chance of the American pastor receiving any semblance of a fair trial.  Even more troubling is that the U.S. government has remained silent, essentially abandoning this American in his search for justice.

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(ACLJ)  http://aclj.org/iran/american-father-husband-abandoned-iran-handed-hanging-judge

Another Christian arrested in Iran without charge (6News)

(6News) 21 December 21 - A pastor from Boise is being held in Iran without charge. He has been imprisoned, since September in the notoriously brutal Evin Prison.


Members of the Calvary Chapel Church in Boise confirmed that Reverend Saeed Abedini attends services at their church.

We talked exclusively with the Senior Pastor Bob Caldwell. He told us the reverend was born in Iran, but is now a U.S. citizen and has lived in Boise with his family for many years now.

FOX News reports Abedini is being held captive for his work as a Christian missionary in Iran. He traveled to the Middle East this summer to continue humanitarian efforts and help build an orphanage.
    
On Wednesday, his wife appeared on FOX news, talking about the last time she spoke to her husband. "He's gone through some harsh treatments there. He had me put the phone to my daughter's ears. He told her daddy loves you," said Naghmeh Abedini.

Meanwhile, leaders of the Calvary Chapel Church are asking everyone in our community to pray for Abedini and his family.

"I think it’s best for us to pray,” said Caldwell, “We really hope he can be freed, because we don't see that he's committed any crime against this country, accept that he believes."

According to FOX News, Abedini is the leader of a house church movement in Iran, a community of underground places of worship for former Muslims, who convert to Christianity and are not allowed to formally pray in recognized churches.

Abedini's home church movement had about 100 churches in 30 Iranian cities with more than 2,000 members. All religious minorities in Iran, including Jews and Christians, face persecution. 

As a convert away from Islam, worshippers are not permitted to attend services at official churches, so underground house churches have become a popular way to get around the restriction.

Everyone is encouraged to show their support for Abedini in any way they can. There is also a Facebook page set up for him called pray for Pastor Saeed Abedini. Here is the link:facebook.com/PrayForPastorSaeedAbedini 

Arrests of Christians spike in Iran (ICC) 

(ICC) 29 November 2012 -  Reports of Iranian authorities arresting Christians for their faith are pouring in, indicating that the Islamic nation is running a massive campaign targeting house churches.

Officials from Iran's Cyber Police force raided the home of a Christian convert, Alireza Ebrahimi, in the northern city of Gorgan, the capital of Golestan Province, Mohabat News reported on Nov. 16. The officials had an arrest warrant for Ebrahimi, who was apparently not at home at the time and it remains unclear if he was being held in prison. The Christian man is a blogger who uses the social media for evangelism.

On Nov. 15, London-based Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) said in a statement that the health of a 41-year-old pastor, who was arrested last year, was in critical condition and "there is a very real chance he will die." Pastor Behnam Irani, who is currently serving a six-year sentence, was a leader of the Church of Iran in the city of Karaj in Alborz Province, He had reportedly been beaten in prison and was being denied hospitalization despite having a bleeding ulcer. He was arrested allegedly for acting against the interests of national security, while the real reason was evangelism.

On Oct. 12, seven Christians from the Church of Iran were detained during a raid by security personnel in the south-western city of Shiraz, Fars Province, Mohabat reported. The seven were identified as Mohammad Roghangir, Suroush Saraie, Roxana Forughi, Eskandar Rezaie, Bijan Haghighi, Mehdi Ameruni, and Shahin Lahooti, who were taken to the notorious Plaque 100 detention center.

On Oct. 18, authorities arrested two more believers from the same church, identified as Afsar Bahmani and Massoud Rezaie.

However, Ameruni was freed last week on a bail bond of about $25,000 in local currency. Haghighi and Furughi were also released on bail on Oct. 25 and Nov. 1 respectively.

On Oct. 15, three of the five Christian converts who were arrested in February from Shiraz appeared before the Islamic Revolutionary Court in the city to respond to charges against them, which included burning of the Qur'an and having links with enemies of Islam abroad. The five were identified as Vahid Hakani, Mojtaba Hossein, Korush Partoey and Homayoun Shokohi and his wife Fariba Nazemian.

Shokohi and his wife were initially not brought to the court, and the hands and feet of the other three were tied with chains. The judge later asked authorities to bring the Christian couple after he saw their son, who had come to the court to see his parents, having an epileptic seizure near the courtroom. The judge released Nazemian on bail.

The official trial of four other Christian converts from the Assembly of God Church, who were arrested in December 2011, was also held on Oct. 15 at Branch 2 of the Revolutionary Court in Ahwaz, the capital of Khuzestan Province, Mohabat reported. The four were identified as Pastor Farhad Sabokrouh and his wife Shahnaz Jeizan, and church ministers Naser Zamen Dezfuli and Davoud Alijani.

The charges against the four include "converting to Christianity, inviting Muslims to convert, as well as propagating against the Islamic regime through promoting Evangelical Christianity." They were each given a suspended sentence of one year’s imprisonment and the confiscation of all their Christian materials.

In late September, intelligence officials arrested as many as 30 Christians in Shiraz, and sent them to the Plaque 100 detention center, according to the Farsi Christian News Network. Adyan News, partly owned by the state, also reported on the arrests, saying the Christians were part of "the Zionist enemy propaganda crusade in the Holy Islamic Republic of Iran."

The arrest are prompting leaders from various parts of the world to call on Iran to abstain from persecuting Christians.

On Oct. 29, U.K.'s All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) launched a report detailing evidence of the persecution on Iranian Christians by their own government, and calling on the British government to apply pressure on Iran to uphold the fundamental right of religious freedom for all Iranian people.

Reuters recently quoted Ahmed Shaheed, U.N. special rapporteur on human rights in Iran, as saying that he estimated that "over 300 Christians have been arbitrarily arrested and detained throughout the country since June 2010."

"Scores of other Christians appear to remain in detention for freely practicing their religion," Shaheed said. "Churches continue to report undue pressure to report membership, in what appears to be an effort to pressure and sometimes even detain converts."

Christian persecution in Iran increased since June 2009, when the results of the presidential elections were disputed. Many believed President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad Authorities rigged the elections. To deal with growing opposition to his rule, Ahmadinejad began to restrict civil liberties - including religious freedom - and attack protesters.

The Iranian president claims that the West is fueling resistance to his regime. Arrests of Christians are also part of his efforts to tighten noose around people’s freedoms in the face of domestic insecurity and international pressure over the nation's secret nuclear enrichment program.

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(ICC)  http://www.persecution.org/2012/11/29/arrests-of-christians-spike-in-iran/

Iran releases jailed Christian on bail (BosNewsLife) 

(BosNewsLife) 20 November 2012 - Iran has released a detained devoted Christian of the 'Church of Iran' on a massive bail but five other recently arrested members of the evangelical house church movement remain behind bars, a church official told BosNewsLife Saturday, November 17.


Mehdi Ameruni was freed this week after raising some $25,000 in local currency, said Firouz Khandjani, a Church of Iran council member,

His release came after fellow believers Bijan Haghighi and Roxana Furughi were freed October 25 and November 1 after paying $25,000 each, he added.

"It's a huge amount in Iran where average monthly wages are up to $300 or less. Their families had to raise the money by putting properties such as a house as security," Khandjani explained earlier.

Five other Church of Iran believers detained with them, Mohammad Roghangir, Surush Saraie, Eskandar Rezaie, Massoud Rezaie and Shahin Lahouty, were moved last week to Adel-Abad prison in Shiraz, he said.

TRUMPED-UP CHARGES

"This suggest that authorities want to keep them a long time," stressed Khandjani, most likely on what Iranian Christians call "trumped-up charges" such as 'crimes against Iran's security'.  "It seems authorities want to pressure them to pay for their release," said Khandjani, who is in hiding amid security concerns.

They were expected to meet several other Christian converts in the Adel-Abad prison. Among them are Mojtaba Hosseini, Mohammad-Reza Partoei Kourosh, Vahid Hakkani and Homayoun Shokouhi who have been held some nine months in the detention facility, Christians said.

Khandjani said he believes dozens of Christians remain detained across Iran following a massive crackdown on several churches and groups since last month. "As many as hundreds of Christians were briefly detained and told not to visit church services anymore."

Iranian officials have denied innocent Christians are being detained in prison and often describe them as "criminals" who are "threatening security."

Church of Iran and other movements have linked the reported crackdown to concern among Iranian officials linked to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei about the spread of Christianity in the Islamic nation.

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(BosNewsLife)  http://www.bosnewslife.com/24727-breaking-news-iran-frees-church-of-iran-christian-others-jailed

Reza Jebbari allowed to stay in Sweden (CBN) 

(CBN) 16 November 2012 - CBN just received word that the Swedish government has decided that Iranian Reza Jebbari will be allowed--at least for now--to remain in Sweden. The Muslim convert to Christianity will not be deported and returned to Iran.

Our source sent this word to us this morning:

Migration Services have stopped all actions to get Mr. Reza expelled from Sweden!!!

This is so wonderful and we're so grateful to the Lord and your work!

This means the following: He will get a new hearing. According to his lawyer, in Mr. Reza's case, that hearing will be more of a formality to be able to grant him permission to stay. That, since the evidence now is so strong in his favor!

So, I think - what you can say tonight is that the Migration Services has stopped his expulsion for now and that they will give him a new trial. Also that we are cautiously optimistically that Mr. Reza will be able to stay in Sweden and that we are tremendously thankful for all the support and to the Lord Jesus Christ, who's heard our prayers!

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(CBN)  http://blogs.cbn.com/globallane/archive/2012/11/14/good-news-for-iranian-convert-in-sweden.aspx

Iranian Christian faces deportation from Sweden (CBN)

(CBN) 14 November 2012 - Iranian Christian Reza Jebbari faces imminent deportation from Sweden, despite the possibility that his return to Iran could lead to his imprisonment or death.

Jebbari is a former Muslim who converted to Christianity during a visit to Baku, Azerbaijan, in 2010. He applied for assylum when he arrived in Sweden two years ago, but the Swedish Immigration Service and the Migration Court rejected the request.

The assylum denial came despite evidence that Jebbari actively participates in church activities, including street evangelism on a regular basis. He's appeared in church plays and sings in the choir at Tensta Church.

Apparently the court questioned the sincerity of Jebbari's conversion and said he failed to convince them that his life would be in danger if he were sent back to Iran. This, despite assurances from Jebbari's pastor that, "He has a deep Christian identity, as much as I have."

Who would know more about a person's spiritual walk than the person who has mentored him?If Swedish immigration officials would take the time to examine the recent case of Iranian Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani, they would understand the possible fate that awaits Jebbari. The Iranian regime imprisoned Nadarkhani and sentenced him to death because he was considered an apostate.

What additional evidence does the Swedish government need to grant Jebbari assylum? Seems to me this is a no brainer.

If they force Jebbari back to Iran and he is harmed--or even killed-- his blood will be on their hands.

Here's information for contacting the Swedish ambassador's office in Washington, D.C.:

Sweden Embassy, United States
2900 K Street, N.W.
DC 20007
Washington
United States 
Phone:
+1-202-467-2600
Fax:
+1-202-467-2699
Email:
ambassaden.washington@foreign.ministry.se

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(CBN)  http://blogs.cbn.com/globallane/archive/2012/11/12/sweden-to-deport-iranian-chirstian.aspx

Two Christians released on bail (MohabatNews)

(MohabatNews) 13 November 2012 - Two of the seven non-Trinitarian Christians arrested last month in Shiraz have been temporarily released on bail.

According to the reports received at Mohabat News, two non-Trinitarian Christians have been temporarily released on bail in Shiraz.

The reports say Ms. Roxanna Foroughi, and Mr. Bijan Haghighi, members of a non-Trinitarian group known as "Church of Iran", were released one week apart, after posting the appropriate bail.

The reports state, Mr. Bijan Haghighi was released on October 25 and a week later on November 1, Ms. Roxanna Foroughi was also temporarily released.

The families of the two prisoners submitted the title deeds of their houses as bail to secure their release.

Roxanna Foroughi and Bijan Haghighi were among seven people arrested earlier by plain-clothes security authorities in Shiraz.

 


According to previously published news, on October 12, 2012, security authorities raided a gathering place of the group located at Jomhouri Street in Shiraz where they arrested seven members of the so called "Church of Iran" group.

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(mohabatNews)  http://www.mohabatnews.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=5713:two-non-trinitarian-christians-released-on-bail&catid=36:iranian-christians&Itemid=279

 

One Christian released, other remain in prison (MohabatNews)

(MohabatNews) 22 October 2012 - The initial trial of five Christian prisoners was held in Shiraz with two of them being absent from the court session. Also, a tragic incident in the last minutes of the trial prompted the release of one of the prisoners on a heavy bail.

According to « Mohabat News » reporters, the official trial of five Christian prisoners was held on October 15, 2012 eight months after their arrest. The trial was held at branch 3 of the Revolutionary Court in Shiraz, and was judged by Mr. Rashidi.

The names of the Christians are as follows, Messrs. Mojtaba Hosseini, Mohammad-Reza Partoei (Kourosh), Vahid Hakkani, Homayoun Shokouhi and his wife Mrs. Fariba Nazemian.

Mohabat News sources reported that Homayoun Shokouhi and Fariba Nazemian were absent from this trial and were not transferred to the court building at all, due to unknown reasons.

.The other three Christian prisoners, Mojtaba Hosseini, Mohammad-Reza Partoei (Kourosh), Vahid Hakkani, were transferred to the court at 10 in the morning with their hands and feet chained together. This use of handcuffs and chains for prisoners of conscience and political prisoners is illegal according to the regulations of prisons in Iran. The way they were transferred to court is the way that is used to transfer murderers. Foot chains are usually used for murderers in Iran. The three Christian men were chained together so tightly that they were hardly able to walk.

A Mohabat News correspondent in Shiraz said the court session was held behind closed doors and the families of these Christians were prevented from entering the court room.

The court session began with the Christian couple, Homayoun Shokouhi and his wife Fariba Nazemian, being absent. The judge asked the defendants a few short questions and postponed the trial merely because the other two defendants were absent.

The judge, Mr. Rashidi, said about the Christian convert, Mojtaba Hosseini, "Because he had received a suspended sentence before and his case is still open, that a suspended sentence should be applied to his case. This matter will be addressed in the next session".

It should be noted that Mojtaba Hosseini and Homayoun Shokouhi had been arrested in a house church by security authorities in 2008 for their Christian faith. The Revolutionary Court gave them a suspended sentence at that time.

The defendants were transferred to the infamous Adel-Abad prison after the session was over. Their hands and feet were chained again on the way back to the prison. Obviously they will remain in uncertainty until their next trial is held.

The judge, Mr. Rashidi decided, the next trial is to be held on Wednesday, October 25, 2012.

A Bitter Incident After the Court was Over

The Mohabat News correspondent reported a sad incident happened just moments after the trial was over and explained, "The Christian couple's (Homayoun Shokouhi and Fariba Nazemian) son, Nima, was waiting outside the court room hoping to get a chance to meet his parents on their way out of the court after not seeing them for months. Nima didn't know his parents were not brought to the court. He waited a long time, but didn't see his parents. The 17 year old teenager, suffering from epilepsy, had a seizure as a result of the mental pressure that was on him. He passed out in the court's corridor. Seeing this, court officials and people in the court building called an ambulance.

The judge also saw the crowd and saw what had happened. So, he asked to bring Nima's mother, Mrs. Fariba Nazemian, upon the request of their family and friends.

Helma, 12 years old, and Nima, 17 years old, are children of the Christian couple, Homayoun Shokouhi and Fariba Nazemian. The couple is being held in prison for months because of being Christians. It should be noted that Nima was also arrested when his parents and other Christians were arrested. Nima together with two other Christian convert residents of Shiraz were temporarily released on a 100 million Toman (approximately 82,000 USD) bail after 36 days of uncertainty in custody.

The Mother (Fariba Nazemian) Released on Bail

After some hours agents brought Mrs. Nazemian before the judge. Asking questions about Christianity, the judge asked her to denounce her faith in Christ and repent from her current faith so that she could be released to go home and take care of her children. Mrs. Nazemian, however, insisted on her faith and rejected the judge's offer.

Therefore, considering the sickness of the Christian lady's child and his need to be cared for, the court issued her release order on a 250 million Toman bail (Approximately 204,000 USD). The Christian lady's friends provided the bail in form of title deed of a property and she was temporarily released.

After issuing the temporary release order, the Christian lady's charges were announced as "forming an illegal group in favor of groups opposing the Islamic regime, acting against national security and insulting holy Islamic figures".

Mrs. Nazemian was temporarily released on Thursday, October 18 after 8 months in prison. She must wait for the next trial which is scheduled to be held on Thursday, October 25.

Shiraz is a major city and the capital of Fars Province with countless religious minorities including Christian converts living there. The religious minorities living in this city are often harassed and prosecuted by the judicial authorities.

Also, according to published reports, seven non-Trinitarian Christians have been arrested by security authorities. The Fars semi-official news agency which is supported by the Revolutionary Guards confirmed their arrest in a report and said, "Four illegal networks known as "house churches" were discovered in Shiraz and Kavar and their primary leaders were arrested."

The news agency mentioned those arrested as being from vulnerable groups of society who are suffering from mental and in some cases financial issues. The report affiliated the house churches with Jews and Israeli security organizations without providing any evidence or proof.

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(Mohabat News)  http://www.mohabatnews.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=5565:one-christian-prisoner-released-on-extraordinary-bail-others-still-in-prison&catid=36:iranian-christians&Itemid=279

Seven Iranian Christians Detained Following Raid on Prayer Meeting

15 October 2012

By Jeremy Reynalds - Senior Correspondent for ASSIST News Service

IRAN (ANS) -- Seven Christians from the Church of Iran denomination have been imprisoned following a raid by members of the security services on a house in the city of Shiraz in Fars Province.

According to a news release from Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW), Mohammad (Vahid) Roghangir, Suroush Saraie, Roxana Forughi, Eskandar Rezaie, Bijan Haghighi, Mehdi Ameruni and Shahin Lahooti are currently being held in Plaque 100, the Intelligence Ministry's notorious detention center. They were detained after security forces raided a house where a prayer meeting was underway.

According to sources close to CSW, older people attending the prayer meeting were threatened, but not taken into custody. CSW said the detentions are part of a marked upsurge in a campaign of harassment of Christians of all denominations, with reports of a significant increase in arrests during recent weeks.

CSW said in other developments, Mohabat News Agency reported on Wednesday that five Christian converts detained in Adel-Abad prison eight months ago following a raid on a house church in Shiraz have been told they will face trial on Oct. 15.

Since their arrests, CSW said the five have reportedly been confined in cells housing dangerous criminals and are charged with "creating illegal groups," "participating in a house church service," "propagation against the Islamic regime," and "defaming Islamic holy figures through Christian evangelizing."

Most recently, seven Christians jailed in Rasht six years ago have received suspended five year sentences for "action against the national security."

CSW's Chief Executive Mervyn Thomas said in a news release, "CSW is deeply concerned at news of yet another increase in the harassment of Iranian Christians. We particularly deplore the nature of the charges that are currently being leveled against Christians and other religious minorities."

He added, "There appears to be an increasing tendency by the Iranian authorities to characterize legitimate religious activities as crimes against the state. In reality, people are being harassed merely on account of their faith. The ongoing harassment and imprisonment of Christians, Baha'is and other religious minorities contravenes international covenants to which Iran is a signatory, including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), which guarantees the right to freedom of religion."

Thomas continued, "By arresting Christians who have peaceably gathered to pray or worship, Iran is violating their right to manifest their religious belief. We urge the Iranian government to end the harassment of religious minorities within its borders, to respect their right to freedom of religion, and to release all who have been held on account of their faith immediately and unconditionally."

Christian Solidarity Worldwide works for religious freedom through advocacy and human rights, in the pursuit of justice.

For further information, visit www.csw.org.uk.

Christian house-church leader released after 560 days in prison (MoabatNews)

Moabat News - 20 July 2012A house-church leader who had been arrested by security authorities because of his Christian faith together with some other Christian converts, has finally been released after 560 days in prison. During his imprisonment, he was put in solitary confinement and interrogated many times.

According to Mohabat News reporters, a Christian convert, Noorollah Qabitizade, who had been arrested for his Christian faith, was released after being held captive for nearly 19 months.

Mr. Qabitizade spent his time in prison in Dezful and Ahwaz. He was released on July 16, 2012 from Karoon prison in Ahwaz following an order issued by judicial authorities of Khuzestan province.

Noorollah Qabitizade had been arrested on December 24, 2010 together with 10 other Christian converts. They had gathered to celebrate Christmas Eve in a house-church in Dezful when security authorities attacked their meeting, hand-cuffed and blind-folded him. He was then transferred to an abandoned house where only two security agents were present. Later he was transferred to the Intelligence office of Ahwaz for further interrogation.

The Iranian Christian, a resident of Dezful, was subjected to numerous interrogation sessions. Security interrogators subjected him to severe mental torture and solitary confinement in an effort to cause him leave his faith in Christianity. The mental torture ranged from forcing him to sign a disclaimer stating that he would stop evangelizing, to writing a letter denouncing his Christian faith.

His trial was held in September 2011 in Criminal Branch one of Ahwaz court, chaired by Judge Pour-Mohammadian. An eye witness told Mohabat News that Mr. Qabitizadeh was brought to the court with his hands and feet in chains. To put more mental pressure on him and intimidate him, he was also told that he was going to be sentenced to death in that session of his trial.

Noorollah Qabitizade, who is 48 years old, was among those arrested during a broad wave of arrests of Christians all across the country carried out by Iranian security and intelligence authorities at Christmas 2010.

At that time, security authorities arrested more than 60 Christians and house church members all across Iran in a pre-organized and well-coordinated plan. After these Christians were arrested, their families were informed that their charges were apostasy (changing religion), promoting Christianity and being in touch with Christian organizations as well as formation of house-churches.

The day after this incident, many regime-supported media reported that evangelical Christian leaders in Tehran and other cities had been arrested. They broadcasted this report broadly in their own media.Morteza Tamadon, Tehran Governor, also called these Christians extreme propagators who enter the body of Islam like "corrupted and deviated ones".

He also promised to increase the pressure and arrest of evangelical Christians.

In addition, during his speech on October 19 in Qom, for the first time Iranian Supreme Leader, Ali Khamenei warned against the growth of house churches along with false mysticism and Baha'ism. Following his speech a new wave of attacks by Iranian security and judicial authorities was initiated and made the situation even tougher for Christians, especially those with an Islamic background. It also caused the attacks to be more organized and coordinated.

This even worsened since the beginning of 2011 and reached official churches as well. Iranian security authorities further restricted official churches and even ordered the cancellation of some Farsi-language church services and closure of some churches in Iran. These pressures continue even to the present. 

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Moabat News http://www.mohabatnews.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=4992:christian-house-church-leader-released-after-560-days-in-prison&catid=36:iranian-christians&Itemid=279 

Christian convert released (MohabatNews)

(MohabatNews) 11 July 2012 - A Christian convert and university student who was arrested after plain clothes Intelligence agents arrested him, spent 105 days in solitary confinement out of eight months' imprisonment in the worst mental conditions.

According to reporters of Iranian Christian news agency, « Mohabat News » ," Ehsan Behrouz" was eventually released in June 16, 2012 after eight months in prison while his family were unaware of his situation.

Ehsan Behrouz, is 24 and resides in the extremely religious city of Mashhad. He had been arrested for a second time after security authorities from the Intelligence Ministry of Khorasan-e-Razavi province contacted him and called him over on October 23, 2011 There, he was arrested and transferred to an unknown location. This happened while his family and friends were unaware of this second arrest for a long time.

.

Mashhad, Capital of the Province of Khorasan,North-East of Tehran

Knowledgeable sources told « Mohabat News » that Ehsan Behrouz spent 105 days of his eight months' imprisonment in solitary confinement in a custody center of the Intelligence office in Mashhad. He suffered many mental and physical difficulties during his time in solitary confinement and was deprived of basic rights of prisoners such as being allowed to contact and/or visit his family or talk to a lawyer.

Mr. Behrouz was studying Management in the University of Mashhad. Although one month had passed since the start of classes when he was arrested, he was not allowed to attend classes. Thus, his continuing education is also at great risk. Because he was absent from school while in jail, it is also a matter of concern that the university board refuse to have this Christian convert return to school or even deprive him of pursuing his education.

In an earlier case, another Christian convert and university student, Ms. Fatemeh Nouri, was sentenced to one year deprivation of education, after security authorities arrested her in her home in east Tehran and kept her in Evin prison for three months.

In its latest effort to crack down on Christian converts and stop the growth of Christianity in the country, the Islamic regime of Iran is applying the experience it gained through its efforts to repress Baha'is, as it increases the pressure on Christians, especially those with Islamic backgrounds.

It also worth mentioning, that Ehsan Behrouz had started an internet café to help him pay for his university and living expenses. However, after his arrest, the place was closed by the Intelligence office for allegedly creating a place to communicate with other Christians via the internet !

Mr. Behrouz was arrested the first time in a pre-organized plan by security authorities on July 8, 2010 together with some other Christians in Khorasan-e-Razavi province.

Knowing that he had the Islamic prefix of "Seyyed" on his ID certificate, security authorities asked him to sign a disclaimer denouncing his Christian faith. When he refused to sign the paper, he was arrested and jailed at the place.

Eventually, this Iranian Christian convert was released on bail of 80 million Tomans (approximately 60,000 USD) following the order of Branch 901 of the Revolutionary Court of Mashhad after spending three tough months in jail.

Despite the Islamic regime's efforts to promote and impose Shia Islam as the official religion of the country, the phenomenon of young Iranians turning their backs on their inherited Islamic religion is growing rapidly. This is taking place while the Islamic regime of Iran imposes harsh restrictions and pressures on religious minorities and has adopted the death penalty for those leaving Islam.

However, the Iranian regime's ill-treatment of Christians has brought the opposite result and has caused churches to grow further all across the country.

Iran releases two Christians on bail (Mohabat)

(Mohabat) 22 June 2012 - According to reporters of Iranian Christian news agency, « Mohabat News» , two Christian converts, Ladan N. and Hooman H. were released on June 10, 2012 after posting the demanded bail.

According to the obtained reports, Ladan and Hooman, who had been transferred to Evin prison immediately after their arrest and subsequently taken to the interrogation office in an illegal court of Shahid Moqadas, received the ruling to be released on bail of 400,000,000 Toman for each (800,000,000 total) (approximately 650,000 USD) and eventually freed after 58 days in detention.

The reason that lawyers and Human Rights activists consider the Shahid Moqadas court illegal is that this court is located within Evin prison and because of the security measures of the place, lawyers cannot enter the court and normally suspects are being interrogated without having access to a lawyer.

Ladan, 26, and Homan, 27, were sent to solitary confinement in the detention center of Evin prison after their arrest and were held there for more than a week.

These two Christian converts were frequently interrogated by security authorities of Evin prison during this one week of solitary confinement while they had lost the sense of time and didn't know whether it was day or night. The questioning was with respect to their Christian faith, how they converted to Christianity and who helped them in this regard.

Also, during the interrogation, the interrogators had a printed version of Mohabat News' report on Homan and Ladan's arrest on their desk and questioned them regarding their connection with Mohabat News and through whom and how the news was given to the news agency.

It is also said, "The accusation against the two Christian converts is for "apostasy" – because of their conversion to Christianity -, action against national security, desecrating holy figures in cyber space and attendance at house church as well as going to a party held to celebrate the baptism of a Christian believer.

It should be remembered that Ladan and Hooman were arrested separately in their homes on April 14, 2012 by a number of plain clothes security officers. Answering the mother of one of the detainees, who had asked "where are you taking my child?", the agent answered ironically "ask Christ to rescue your child"!

The plain clothes security officers not only attacked the homes of these Christian converts, but they also thoroughly searched them and seized a number of their belongings including their laptops, cameras, books as well as some photos taken from the baptism ceremony of one of their friends in a foreign country.

Their parents were also summoned to the court based in Evin prison. They were asked to go there and answer some questions regarding their children's activities.

Informed sources have told Mohabat News that the security authorities had also gone to arrest another man called Majid A., however he managed to escape before they arrived to arrest him. The same sources now report that Majid A. has fled Iran reluctantly.

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(Mohabat) Two Christian converts temporarily releases on heavy bail                                          http://mohabatnews.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=4769:two-christian-converts-temporarily-released-on-heavy-bail&catid=36:iranian-christians&Itemid=279 

Iran releases Pastor Foroutan; others remain detained (BosNewsLife)

Bos News Life -13 June 2012TEHRAN, IRAN - Iran has released Pastor Mehdi “Petros” Foroutan who served about one year in prison following a police crackdown on his and other house churches,  a spokesman told BosNewsLife late Tuesday, June 12.
Jason DeMars, who helped the 27-year-old pastor with advocacy, explained that Forouton was released Sunday, June 10.

He added that the pastor "In total served about one year in prison for 'crimes against national security' because of his Christian faith."

Additional death-sentence-carrying charges of "blasphemy", the word used for "abandoning Islam", were dropped, Christians said earlier.

The pastor, who is single and has no children, was initially detained in early 2010 "but released on bail" a month later in February, DeMars said.

In December of that year he was again taken into custody amid a massive police action against house churches, that also included the confiscation of his Christian literature from his, according to Christians.

INTERNATIONAL CONCERN

Forouton was eventually sentenced and released on bail by mid-April, 2011, but returned to the Abel Abad Prison in the city of Shiraz on September 25, last year.

Sunday's release came amid an international outcry over his detention, amid reports he was held between drugs addicts and possible dealers.

DeMars, who leads the Present Truth Ministries advocacy group, suggested that he appeared in good health, despite his ordeal. "We give thanks to the Lord for preserving his life and health."

However he cautioned that several other pastors remain detained, including Youcef Nadarkhani, a married father of two who faces the death penalty for refusing to abandon his Christian  faith and return to Islam.

He remains in Lakan Prison in the city of Rasht where he is still awaiting an official response from the local court about his future, DeMars said.

FAITH STRONG

"As he waits, he remains strong in his hith faith and positive in his attitude."

Another Christian  leader, Behnam Irani, is held in Ghezal Hezar prison in Karaj city, despite his poor health, Christians said.

Yet, "even though he is in poor health his faith remains strong. He is suffering from bloody stool and has some problems with his eyesight," DeMars explained.

Prison officials reportedly refuse to allow him to visit a doctor.

DeMars said his group had urged Christians to "Pray for his healing for God to make a way for [the] release" of this married father with two children.

Iranian officials have consistently denied wrongdoing, saying they upheld Islamic values in this strict Islamic nation. Critics say the reported detentions are linked to the concerns within the government over the  growth of Christianity in the country.

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Article By BosNewsLife Middle East Service with reporting by BosNewsLife's Stefan J. Bos 

http://www.bosnewslife.com/22068-breaking-news-iran-releases-pastor-foroutan-others-remain-detained 

Evangelical Christian couple arrested in Karai, Iran (MohabatNews)

Mohabat News - 7 June 2012 - A Christian couple who were presbyters and teachers in Immanuel Evangelical Church were arrested following an attack on their home by plain clothes security authorities. No information is available on their health condition or their whereabouts since their arrest.

According to Iranian Christian news agency, « Mohabat News» , a Christian couple who were official members of Immanuel Evangelical Church, were arrested in their home in Karaj by security authorities.

Mehrdad Sajadi, an engineer, and his wife Forough Dashtiani who were presbyters and teachers in Immanuel Evangelical Church in Tehran were arrested on May 24, 2012 when plain clothes security authorities raided their home in Karaj, providing no reason for it.

 They were transferred to an unknown location after their arrest. Unofficial sources say, they were transferred to Evin prison.

Not only did the security authorities arrest them, but they also thoroughly searched their home and seized some of their personal belongings.

Despite their family's follow up efforts to obtain information regarding their situation and the location where they are being held, no information has been made available by security and judicial authorities during the 12 days since their arrest. Also, the family's request to visit their loved ones has been turned down. This lack of information has caused considerable anxiety among the couple's family and friends.

As for now, it is not clear why they were arrested. However, it is possible that their arrest is related to the increase of pressure on Christian communities and evangelical churches in Iran. The pressures have resulted in the issuance of new orders by security authorities regarding members of evangelical churches.

In addition, the arrest of six cult members (non-Trinitarian) was reported in recent weeks. These arrests took place in Karaj. However, it is said that the detainees were released after spending one day in custody.

- Security organizations pressure Evangelical Churches

According to published reports on the situation of churches holding Farsi services for Farsi-speaking believers, the pressures and restrictions by the Islamic regime of Iran on these churches are increasing tremendously.

Following the increased restriction on Iranian Christian converts and the issuance of new orders by the Intelligence Ministry, the arrest of, and pressure on, leaders and officials of Evangelical Churches in Tehran and other cities have been scheduled by Iranian authorities.

According to reports, the leaders of the Central AOG Church in Tehran asked their members on the service on Sunday, May 6, 2012 to submit a list of their names and National Identification Numbers as well as their other personal details to the church leaders so that they could provide the Intelligence Ministry with the information. The demand can enable security authorities to record Christian convert's personal details.

Also, in February 2011, Farsi services in two churches in Tehran were ordered to be cancelled by the Intelligence Ministry. The Protestant Immanuel Church and Evangelical St. Peter Church were the two churches targeted in the order. These churches were the only churches in Tehran where Farsi services were held on Fridays. Prior to that, the Central AOG Church in Tehran was also ordered by the Islamic regime to cancel their Farsi service on Fridays which is the official weekend in Iran.

Such moves are part of the regime's policy to restrict Christian activities. Such reports indicate that the Islamic government of Iran is so firm in its decision to restrict Iranian Christian converts' access to worship services.

Although operating groups and masterminds at the Intelligence Ministry have even cancelled Farsi services in some churches in recent months, they have not been able to keep Iranians and Christian converts from attending church services. This shows the failure of the threats designed to stop the growth of Christianity in Iran.

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Mohabat News

http://www.mohabatnews.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=4710:evangelical-christian-couple-arrested-in-karaj&catid=36:iranian-christians&Itemid=279 Click to add text, images, and other content

Elder of Immanuel church in Tehran; was arrested with his wife last week (FCNN)

 

FCNN - 4 June 2012 - Tehran - On Monday May 28th 2012, Mr. Mehrdad Sajadi, prominent elder of Immanuel Church in Tehran; seized with his wife by Islamic Republic’s Ministry of State Security agents.

As of 24thFeb.2012, “Armenian Evangelical Church” in Tehran has been ordered to cease its Persian Language Service on Fridays.

The church in Nader Shah Avenue ( Mirzay Shirazy) is one of  the few established churches in Iran which was still allowed to have Persian Language services for Persian speaking Christians.

Serving the notice, officers of the Islamic Court informed the Church officials that they are being ordered to cease Persian language services, and threatened that if this order is ignored and they continue to have Christian services on Fridays which is a sacred day for Muslims, church building will be bombed “as happens in Iraq every day”.

Last month two other churches in Tehran had also been served the same order, and threat.”St. Immanuel” and “St. Peter” churches, both with Persian language services, were thus forced to cease their Friday prayer meetings.

Friday is a day of rest in the Islamic Republic and the most suitable for any service for all religions, and Christian services have for decades been held on Fridays instead of Sundays which is a working day; without any tension or coercion from the Islamic authorities.

It now seems likely that the Islamic authorities have imagined that with this new restriction they will somehow hold back the rapid, and evidently extremely worrying, spread of Christianity amongst the people under their yoke.

FCNN sources in Tehran also report of the closer of all Christian training and educational classes for the new Christians, which have for decades been held by the Tehran Central church of “Assembly of God”, has been permanently shut down by worried Islamic authorities.

These training classes were held on Saturdays and were a normal part of church activities in Tehran.

Ministry of State Security have refused to provide any reason for this sudden change of policy. (Islamic regime has never troubled itself with any obligation toward people of Iran).

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Farsi Christian News Network

http://www.fcnn.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=2888:eelder-of-immanuel-church-in-tehran-was-arrested-with-his-wife-last-week&catid=127:iranian-christian&Itemid=593 

 

Conditional release (Mohabat News)

(Mohabat News) 03 May 2012 -Following a series of orchestrated and coordinated attacks by the secret agents of the ministry of Information in Isfahan that resulted in the arrest of a Christian pastor and several newly converted believers, some of the detainees were temporarily released after more than 2 months of captivity by posting bail and agreeing to strict conditions.

According to reports received by the Iranian Christian News, "Mohabat News", several newly converted Christians that were rounded up and arrested in a series of coordinated home invasions by the secret agents of the government were temporarily released on April 30, 2012, after spending more than 2 months in detention, by posting bail and agreeing to strict release conditions.

The above mention attacks occurred at 7:00 am on February 22, 2012 by plain clothes security officers of the ministry of Information in the city of Isfahan in which Hekmat Salimi, the official pastor of the St. Paul Church of Isfahan, was arrested along with several other newly converted Christians. This attack was just beginning of these coordinated and pre-planned attacks thatresulted in other arrests as well.

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(Esfahan, 439 KMs south of Tehran, the capital)

Mr. Hekmat Salimi is a Farsi-speaking pastor who was arrested and charged with propagating Christianity among the Farsi-speaking Iranians of Isfahan. He is still being held in Dastgerd prison in uncertainty. It is said that a bail of 50,000,000 Tomans (approximately 40,000 USD) is demanded for his release but judicial authorities have refused to receive the demanded bail as yet. He has been a Christian for more than 30 years and has published several theological books and Christian poems.

Following the arrest of this pastor, the wave of arrests and detention of newly converted Christians in the Isfahan and the surrounding towns began to intensify and reports indicate that all of the subsequent arrest that happened at the homes or the work places of these Christians followed a similar pattern. It seems that these attacks had been a well-planned and coordinated strategy by the secret agents of the Ministry of Information.

Other arrested believers whose names are available at this time are: Majid Enayat, Shahram Ghaedi, Enayat Jafari, Fariborz Parsi-Nejad, Keyhan Amirian, Khodadad Nasiri, Javad..., and Misem Hojatti, and Ms. Shahnaz Zarifi and Ms. Maryam Delaram.

These arrested believers have been charged with believing the tenants of Christianity, evangelizing the Christian gospel, possession of the Bible and other Christian books, attendance at house-churches, and contact with foreign Christian organizations. They had been interrogated several times in the past and were temporarily release from detention after posting bail and agreeing to return to the court in the future. (the names as well as details will be published)

Among other arrested and detained Christians mention must be made of Giti Hakim-Pour who at the age 87 was arrested and after 3 days due to her illness and weakness was allowed to post bail and be temporarily released.

All of the arrested Christians were taken to the Dastgerd prison of Isfahan for interrogation and were held in the A-T wing of the prison which is reserved for the political prisoners. Moreover and in order to exert more pressure on these Christian believers and their families no visitations were allowed during the Iranian new-year celebrations.

The recent waves of attacks and arrests of Christians in Isfahan and other cities in Iran by the security apparatus of the government is a desperate attempt to curb the ever-increasing interest and conversion of many Iranians by creating an atmosphere of fear and terror in the hearts of the Iranian population. 

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(Mohabat News) The conditional release of newly converted Christians , after posing bail, from prison in Isfahan  http://mohabatnews.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=4475:the-conditional-release-of-newly-converted-christiansafter-posting-bailfrom-prison-of-isfahan&catid=36:iranian-christians&Itemid=279 

Fariborz Arazm released from prison in Iran (Mohabat News)

(MohabatNews) 30 April 2012 - According to reporters of Iranian Christian news agency, Mohabat News, Fariborz Arazm, a Christian convert, was conditionally released after six months imprisonment in notorious Evin prison.

After his arrest, Mr. Arazm was held in Rajaei-Shahr prison of Karaj but after some time officials transferred him to Evin prison for further interrogation.

 

News sources told Mohabat News that a court announced he was charged with being in contact with missionaries and also of promoting the Christian faith among Iranian Muslims.

 

Eventually, Mr. Arazm was conditionally released on April 11 after six months of uncertainty in Evin prison.

Three other Christian converts were also named in Mr. Arazm's case and their arrests had been planned as well. However, they left Iran before security authorities could arrest them.

Mr. Arazm spent 21 days in solitary confinement in the general ward of Rajaei-Shahr prison of Karaj. He was then transferred to ward 350 of Evin prison in Tehran for further interrogation. He was held there until his release.

It should be remembered that Mr. Fariborz Arazm, a 44 year old married Christian convert from Robat-Karim county, was arrested by four plain clothes security authorities in his own residence.

The security authorities arrested Mr. Arazm, thoroughly searched his home making a mess of it and in the end took some of his personal belongings with them including the Hard-drive of his computer, CDs, photos and a number of Bibles.

that same day, security authorities also arrested a young man called Mohammad in Shahriar county and transferred him to the Intelligence Office located in the same county. There, they interrogated him and accused him of having a Christian faith. However, in response he said that he is still studying about Christianity and has not accepted it as his religion yet. He was released the same day after signing a disclaimer and being threatened.

It is noteworthy that harassment and discrimination against religious minorities has been a major Human Rights violation issue by the Islamic regime of Iran, during the last 30 years.

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(MohabatNews) Christian convert released after 180 days in Evin prison                http://www.mohabatnews.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=4450:christian-convert-released-after-180-days-in-evin-prison&catid=36:iranian-christians&Itemid=279 

Farshid Fathi sentenced to 6 years in prison (ASSIST)

(ASSIST) 24 April 2012 -  Farshid Fathi, a Christian prisoner who had been held in the notorious Evin prison for 15 months without being granted any leave permission, has been sentenced to 6-years in prison by a Revolutionary Court in Iran.

 

Farshid Fathi 
(Photo Courtesy of Mohabat News).

According to the Iranian Christian news agency, Mohabat News (www.mohabatnews.com ) Fathi, whose trial had been postponed several times by judicial authorities, was eventually tried in January, 2012 in a court based in Evin prison after more than one year of uncertainty.

 

Mohabat News says that although the details of his court session have not been published, a knowledgeable source according to the issued verdict said that the court announced his accusations as, "action against the regime's security, being in contact with foreign organizations and religious propaganda."

The source told Mohabat News that Fathi's case will be sent to an appeal court after his attorney submits his appeal of the 6-year prison sentence. The source believes that the appeal court might change this ruling.

This sentence has been issued after Mr. Fathi was held in custody illegally and in total uncertainty for the past 15 months, the news agency said.

Mohabat News says that “issuance of such an unjustified sentence by the Islamic Republic's judicial system for a Christian convert whose only crime is practicing his Christian faith, contravenes international laws and the Human Rights convention that the Islamic Republic has signed and is obliged to follow.”

Fathi is currently held in the ward 350 of Evin prison, the news agency reported.

According to the news agency report, Fathi has spent several months in solitary confinement and has never received a leave permission during his imprisonment.

“In order to put more mental pressure on him as Norouz celebrations were approaching, the interrogators and prison guards agreed to temporarily free him, but as he was about to leave the ward 209, they stopped and returned him to his cell in solitary confinement,” the agency stated.

Mohabat News says Fathi was born in 1979. He is married and the father of two children. Fathi was arrested by security authorities in Tehran on December 26, 2010 as part of a crackdown before New Year celebrations.

The news agency stated that some 60 Christian citizens and members of house churches in Tehran and other cities were arrested during that highly coordinated and pre-organized attack by security authorities. The accusations announced to the families of these Christian detainees were as follows, “conversion (apostasy), evangelism, having contact with Christian organizations.”

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(ASSIST)  Iranian Christian Sentenced by Revolutionary Court                      http://www.assistnews.net/Stories/2012/s12040119.htm                                                                                               Article by  Michael Ireland 

Alireza Seyyedian Arrested (Present Truth Ministries)

(PTM) 15 March 2012 - Brother Alireza Seyyedian was arrested March 14, 2012 at the Turkish/Iranian border while attempting to flee Iran. Earlier this year he was sentenced to six years in prison for action against national security and propaganda against the order. He was accused of collusion, holding church meetings in order to perform crimes against national security, distributing Bibles amongst the youth, propaganda for the Jesus only cult (as the others a false charge), and having communication with Zionist satellite channels like Mohabat and Radio Mojde, including sharing worship hymns that he has written.

Please pray for brother Alireza, that the Lord would grant him courage and strength through this trial, that He would bless our brother for the stand that he is taking for Jesus, and that he would continue to be a light and witness to those around him, even in prison.
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(PTM) Brother Alireza Seyyedian arrested                                                                 http://presenttruthmn.com/blog/iran/brother-alireza-seyyedian-arrested/  

Christian converts arrested in Iran (MohabatNews)

(MohabatNews) 06 March 2012 - Thirteen Christian converts have been arrested following an attack by security authorities on a house church in Iran. Three of them are being held in custody at an unknown location, according to Mohabat News (www.mohabatnews.com ) .

The news agency says that February 21, 2012, at 7 in the evening, security authorities raided a home dedicated to be used a house church and seized all thirteen gathered there for worship. To date, no precise news is available regarding some of these detainees.

Mohabat News says that during this incident, security authorities who were wearing plain clothes transferred these Christians to an unknown location while insulting and abusing them.

The authorities also invaded and thoroughly searched the detainees' homes and confiscated some of their personal belongings.

Numerous Christian converts have already been arrested in various cities in their house church gatherings, homes or workplaces by order of judicial and security authorities of the Islamic Republic of Iran, as a result of the continued anti-Christian wave in Iran during past months.

Now, in addition to Ahwaz, Shiraz, Esfahan and Tehran, this on-going wave has reached the city Kermanshah, 526 KMs west of Tehran, in the western part of Iran.

A knowledgeable source told Mohabat News that the Christian detainees may have been transferred to a building in Hafezieh Junction in Kermanshah or 22-Bahman Street which is known as the location of security and intelligence forces.

The source said that nine of these detainees (their names are not given due to security reasons) were released the next day after their photos were taken, their details and fingerprints recorded and they signed a disclaimer stating they would not attend any Christian gatherings.

Mohabat News also received word that Ms. Azadeh Sharifi was released on February 28 after enduring 8 days in custody. As yet, no detailed information has been received regarding the way she was released.

Three other detainees, Mehdi Chaghakaboudi, Mojtaba Baba-Karami and Shirin Ghanbari, however, are still being held. Some of the named Christians had also been arrested by security authorities before.

The source also stated that on February 28, Ms. Shirin Ghanbari and Mojtaba Baba-Karami were permitted to have a brief contact with their families telling them that they are in a good health. However, it seems that they were prevented by prison authorities from giving any additional information or details on their situation.

Mohahbat News further says that Masoud Delijani, a Christian convert resident of Kermanshah and a member of a house church, was sentenced to three years in prison by the Revolutionary Court of Kermanshah for the charges of having faith in Christianity, holding illegal house church gatherings, evangelizing Muslims and action against national security. He is currently being held in Deizal-Abad prison in Kermanshah to serve his sentence.

Prior to this, on January 2, 2010, the official Pentecostal church of Assyrians in Kermanshah was also closed by the order of the judicial and security authorities for spreading Christianity among Farsi-speaking Muslims and for preaching the gospel. Security authorities also arrested the pastor of the church, Wilson Isavi on February 2, 2010. He was temporarily released on bail after 54 days in Dastgerd prison in Esfahan.

Mohabat News states: "With the growth in the number of Iranian converts to Christianity in recent years, and the increased pressure by the Islamic government on Christians, especially Christian converts, the Islamic Republic is seeking to stop the growth of house churches in Iran by any means.

"The Islamic Republic considers the growth of Christianity as a religious threat against its national security and is greatly concerned about the spread of the truth of the gospel among the people."

Update 21 February 2012 (presenttruth)

(Presenttruth) 21 February 2012 - 

Brother Behnam Irani, who is in prison in Karaj, Iran, for “crimes” against the Islamic order, is in ill health. He is experiencing some sort of intestinal disorder. His family is very concerned because his brother died from intestinal cancer. I ask that you pray for complete healing for brother Behnam. As you pray remember in faith that Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever.

Pastor Mehdi Karbalaee who left the country is waiting for his trial to take place in Tehran. He will be put on trial without him being present for it. I ask that you pray for this pastor as he is facing some difficult times regarding the bail that was posted for him and his residency in the country he has fled to.

Pastor Matthias Haghnejad who was acquitted for crimes against the order in a Bandar Anzali court is now being put on trial again for the same crime. There were 11 others put on trial with him and they are now going to have to go to court for the second time. They are Anahita Khadeimi (the wife of Matthias), Mahmoud Khosh-Hal and his wife Hava Saadetmend, Amir Goldoust, Mina Goldoust, Zhaina Bahremand, Fatemah Modir-Nouri, Mehrdad Habibzade, Milad Radef, Behzad Taalipasand and Amin Pishkar. Their second trial after being acquitted of these crimes previously will be one month from now in March.

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(Presenttruth) Continued persecution in Iran                                                                                http://presenttruthmn.com/ 

10 Converts arrested in Iran (ASSIST/ Mohabat)

(ASSIST/ Mohabat) - 13 February 2012 - Plain clothes security authorities have raided an Iranian house church gathering and arrested 10 members of this Christian group who were gathered for prayer service in Shiraz, Fars province, which is 580 miles south of the capital. All 10 detainees were transferred to an unknown location.

 

 

Mojtaba Hosseini, a Christian convert who was among those arrested

According to Mohabat News (www.mohabatnews.com), an Iranian Christian news agency, following the continued arrests of Iranian Christians, security authorities invaded a residential building used as house church on Wednesday, February 8, 2012, and arrested 10 Christian converts who were gathered there to worship.

 

“These believers who had gathered in a home to hold a worship service were arrested and transferred to an unknown location using a police vehicle,” said a spokesperson for Mohabat News.

“The location of the detainees is still unknown despite their family's efforts. The authorities refuse to give any information in this regard.”

Although precise details are still not available in this respect, the report from Mohabat News indicates that a man called Mojtaba Hosseini is among those arrested. He was also arrested on May 11, 2008, together with eight other Christian converts on charges of “having a Christian faith.” Security officials had asked the then 21-year-old, Mojtaba Hosseini to renounce his faith and collaborate with the Intelligence office.

“It is also noteworthy that last month reports were published regarding the arrest of a number of Christians in the AOG church of Ahwaz including the pastor of the church and two other church members,” said the spokesperson.

“Today, the pressures and security measures implemented by the Islamic Republic against churches in Iran have resulted in the closure of churches in which services were being held in Farsi. The other churches, which are allowed to remain open, are obliged by order of the Intelligence Ministry to prevent Farsi speakers from entering their churches.”

The spokesperson added, “In spite of all these circumstances, when people from other religious backgrounds embrace Christianity, they feel the need to gather in small groups in their homes and dedicate their own personal houses for worship services. The Islamic Republic of Iran considers such groups security and spying tools for the West.”

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(ASSIST/ Mohabat) Iran: 10 Converts arrested during raid on house church  http://www.assistnews.net/Stories/2012/s12020049.htm                                                                                             Article by Dan Wooding 

Concern over health of Pastor Farhad Sabokroh (MohabatNews)

(MohabatNews) 06 February 2012 - Concern is growing in Iran over health condition of Pastor Farhad Sabokroh who was arrested together with two other Christian converts. They have now been in custody for over 40 days.

According to the Iranian Christian news agency, Mohabat News (www.mohabatnews.com), family, relatives and a wide range of Iranian Christians within and outside Iran expressed their concern over the health condition of Pastor Farhad Sabokroh, who was arrested on December 23, 2011, with others in attendance at the Christmas service of the Assemblies of God (AOG) church of Ahwaz, where he was pastoring.

According to this report, sources affirmed that Pastor Sabokroh, Naser Zamen-Defzuli and Davoud (David) Alijani were transferred to Karoun prison of Ahwaz. They have now been held in prison for over 40 days. They were arrested by security authorities in Ahwaz, (543 miles south west of Tehran, the Capital), which is in Khuzestan province.

"Prior to his arrest, Pastor Sabokroh was under treatment for cataract disease and underwent surgery but now has no access to a doctor," a spokesperson for Mohabat News told the ASSIST News Service.

"Knowledgeable sources define his situation concerning this because, after the surgery, he needed to visit his doctor on a regular basis for the required medications. Now, with this situation, he is still not allowed to leave the prison after over 40 days to continue his treatment."

Christian Prisoners' Rights Advocacy Club sent a report to Mohabat News expressing their deep concern and objection to illegal and inhuman acts by the Iranian Security system towards Iranian Christians, especially Pastor Sabokroh and the two other Christian prisoners who are being held with him. 

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(MohabtNews)(ASSIST) Iran: Concern over health conditions of Pastor Farhad Sabokroh in prison  http://www.assistnews.net/Stories/2012/s12020030.htm

Iranian convert sentenced to two years in prison (ASSIST)

(ASSIST) 31 January 2012 - A Christian convert whom security authorities arrested in her home has been sentenced to two years in prison by the Revolutionary Court in Tehran.

 According to a report sent to the ASSIST News Service by the Iranian Christian news agency, Mohabat News (http://www.mohabatnews.com/), Ms. Leila Mohammadi, a Christian convert who resided east of Tehran, was sentenced to two years of imprisonment after enduring five months of uncertainty in notorious Evin prison.

 The story went on to say that her trial was held on January 18, 2012, in the Revolutionary Court in Moalem street where she was charged with “collaboration with foreign-dependent groups, broad anti-Islamic propaganda, deceiving citizens by formation of what is called a house church, Insulting sacred figures and action against national security.”

“However she was acquitted of collaboration with foreign-dependent groups because the judge believed she had done that unintentionally. For the other charges she was sentenced to two years in prison and the ruling was delivered to her,” said Mohabat News.

“After the verdict was issued knowledgeable sources reported that her attorney announced that the case was sent to the high court of Tehran province to be reviewed.”

Leila Mohammadi, was arrested after a number of security agents raided her home on 30 July, 2011 at 10:30 P.M. in Kianshahr town, east of Tehran. The agents thoroughly searched her house and also confiscated some of her belongings.

 Ms. Mohammadi was taken to Horr custody center which belongs to the Iranian police forces. From there, she was transferred to Evin prison. On December 28, 2011, she was released on a bail of $150,000 USD after 74 days in harsh conditions in solitary confinement in Evin prison.

 “It is being reported that some other people were also arrested in relation to this case,” said the news agency. “According to this report, some days after Ms. Mohammadi’s arrest, another person called Parviz G. was also arrested by security agents.

“Again, in this case they thoroughly searched Parviz G's house and seized his belongings including his computer. He was freed after spending three days in Evin custody center and being subjected to interrogations and signing a disclaimer. It seems that his arrest was related to evangelical activities of his wife ‘Masoumeh’ who was linked to the case of Leila Mohammadi."

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(ASSIST) Iranian Christian convert sentenced to two years in prison                http://www.assistnews.net/Stories/2012/s12010160.htm                                                                                                 Article by Dan Wooding 

Christian released from prison (WorthyNews)

(WorthyNews) 03 January 2012 - A Christian woman who was detained as part of Iran's crackdown on devoted Christian converts has been released after more than nine months imprisonment, but concerns remain over other jailed believers, Worthy News learned January 1.

Shahla Rahmati, the director of "a successful electronics company", was freed December 20 following 287 days behind bars in mainly Tehran's notorious Evin Prison, confirmed Elam Ministries, a mission group founded by Iranian church leaders.Iranian Christians said she was sentenced to at least two and a half years imprisonment on charges such as "membership of an illegal group", in reference to her Christian activities.An appeal court apparently overturned her conviction, Christians said, but it was not immediately clear when that ruling was made. Rights groups and lawyers have complained that Iran's judiciary is often clouded in secrecy.

In a statement, released by Elam Ministries, her family expressed concerns about her health saying "Shahla needs immediate medical attention as her blood pressure is still dangerously low" following alleged prison mistreatment.

SOLITARY CONFINEMENT

Since her detention on March 9 last year she was reportedly kept in solitary confinement for five months. She was then moved to "an overcrowded cell which she shared with about 80 hardened criminals and drug addicts", stressed Elam Ministries. "Here her health deteriorated [as] her blood pressure dropped to
very low levels."
Her family said they "thank all Christians for their faithful intercession for her release" but concerns remained over two other Christian women who were detained with Shahla Rahmati.Maryam Jalili and Mitra Zahmati, were transferred to the women's section of the Evin prison three months ago, explained Mohabat News, a news agency of Iranian Christians and activists.

"It has been reported that Ms. Zahmati was also sentenced to two and a half years in prison [like Rahmati] while Ms. Jalili remains in custody with her fate unknown," it said.

MORE DETENTIONS

Elsewhere in the country Iranian Christians, including former Muslims, were also detained this Christmas season, including Farshid Fathi-Malayeri, "an enthusiastic church leader", Elam Ministries said. The father of two was reportedly arrested December 26, though more details were not immediately available.Additionally, concerns remain over a senior evangelical pastor and his wife who were detained in southern Iran after security forces raided their Assemblies of God-affiliated church, detaining everyone in the building, including children attending Sunday School, a friend of the couple told Worthy News earlier.

"Pastor Farhad Sabokrouh and his wife Shahnaz were among those detained in the southern town of Ahwaz Friday morning, [December 23] while they were having Christmas celebrations", explained their friend, Firouz Khandjani.

He said security forces pushed dozens of worshipers, including children, into two buses and brought them to a local police station. Most were eventually released, "but the pastor and his wife remain in jail," Khandjani said.Mohabat News said at least four Christians remain detained of the church. Among others behind bars is Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani, whose case received international media attention, after he was sentenced to death for refusing to abandon his faith in Christ and return to Islam.

TRIAL OBSERVERS

A lawyer and other observers close to the case said they learned from the court that judges were ordered to "do nothing" for one year in hope he would eventually deny his faith in Christ.However, "It has become clear that Iran's government may want to execute him earlier," Khandjani stressed. "Saying he will be held one year more does not necessarily mean an earlier execution isn't possible."

Iranian officials have denied wrongdoing, saying they defend "Islamic values". Christians linked the reported crackdown to concerns among Iran's government about the spread of Christianity in the strict Islamic nation.There are at least 100,000 devoted Christians in Iran, many of them former Muslims, according to conservative estimates, while some church groups estimate that number to be several times higher.

Officially 98 percent of Iran's roughly 78 million people are Muslims, said the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).

Iran orders pastors to serve prison terms (BosNewsLife)

(BosNewsLife) 30 November 2011 -  Iran has ordered three evangelical house church pastors to report to prison within a month and serve lengthy jail terms on charges linked to their Christian activities, a well-informed source told BosNewsLife late Tuesday, November 29.


Pastors Parviz Khalaj, Mohammed “William” Belyad and Behrouz Sadegh Khandjani, of the Church of Iran movement, are due to start serving their sentences in the southwestern city of Shiraz in "30 days" said Jason DeMars, director of advocacy group Present Truth Ministries, which has close contacts with Iranian Christians.

"Parviz has two convictions for crimes against the order and is to serve two years. William Belyad was previously convicted of crimes against the order and sentenced to five years in prison. He will [receive an additional one year] to serve a total of 6 years. Behrouz is expected to serve one year in prison," on related charges he added.

He said his group had urged its supporters to pray as "each of these brothers has a family that will need our prayers." Khalaj he added, "is married to Elahe" with 10-yea- old son Samuel. Belyad leaves behind his wife Nazly and their one-month-old son Ariel, while Khandjani will have his wife Miriam and their 7-year old daughter Esperance waiting for him, De Mars explained.

FINDING SOLUTION

DeMars stressed that he has learned that their attorney is still "working to find a solution" for them. "There is still a chance that they would not be required to serve their sentences." DeMars did not elaborate.

He said he wasn't surprised that the order came as Christians prepare for Christmas. "Based upon past experience, Christmas is a time of increased persecution in Iran."

Tuesday's reported order came shortly after the European Union urged Iran to release House of Iran Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani who is facing the death penalty for refusing to recant his faith in Christ and return to Islam.

Nadarkhani, one of hundreds of believers detained in Iran, "already spent two years behind bars and was sentenced to death because he became a Christian and tried to register his house church," said Peter van Dalen of Dutch party ChristenUnie, or ChristianUnion (CU), in the EU's European Parliament.

The 34-year-old Nadarkhani, who is married with two children, was detained in his home city of Rasht in October 2009 while trying to register his 400-member house church.

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(BosNewsLife) Iran orders pastors to serve prison terms

http://www.bosnewslife.com/19323-breaking-news-iran-orders-pastors-to-serve-prison-terms

Article by Stefan J. Bos 

Leader of House Church held in Ahwaz (MohabatNews)

(MohabatNews) 04 Nov 2011 - According to reporters of Iranian Christian news agency, Mohabat News, Noorollah Qabitizade, a Christian convert and a house church leader was not allowed to contact his family during the first month of his imprisonment. His condition inside the prison was also unknown. During that first month, he was subjected to intense interrogation in an attempt to force him to renounce his Christian faith and return to Islam. They applied mental pressure on him to sign commitments to not evangelize, to repent his decision to leave Islam, and to renounce his Christian faith.

Although the judicial and security authorities had promised to release Noorollah after writing a repentance disclaimer, Noorollah was unwilling to do so.

According to Mohabat News sources, despite the pressure Mr. Qabitizade not only didn't give up his hope but he even tried to share his faith with other prisoners and organized some prayer meetings inside the Dezful prison where he was being held initially. This made the prison guards so angry they transferred him to the prison of Ahwaz (162 KM south of Dezful). Noorollah said that the transfer resulted from his speaking about Jesus with other prisoners.

His first trial was held two months ago in the courthouse of the city Ahwaz in the first criminal branch and Mr. Poor Mohammadian presided at that session. "Noorollah's hands and feet were chained as he arrived in court" said an eyewitness. The mental pressure on him increased when he was told that his death sentence would be issued in this trial. At the end of the session they also offered him another opportunity to renounce his Christian faith and return to Islam so that his punishment would be reduced.

It's necessary to note here that on Friday, December 24, 2010, ten new Christians from the city of Dezful (700 KM south-east of Tehran) were about to celebrate Christmas Eve with fellow Christians from Ahwaz and Andimeshk. However they were all arrested by security forces including pastor Noorollah Qabitizade, the host of that night's house church celebrations. He, along with ten others, was transferred, hand-cuffed and blind folded, to a safe house in the centre of Dezful.

Other detainees from the cities of Ahwaz and Andimeshk were interrogated about their conversion to Christianity. They were asked to name their Christian friends and tell what they knew about them, and then how they knew Mr. Qabitizade. They were all released that night after being finger-printed and asked to report to the office of Ministry of Information in the city of their residence the next morning.

 

Christian convert Fariborz Arazm arrested in Iran (Mohabat)

(Mohabat News) 25 Oct 2011 - According to the reporter of Christian News Agency, Mohabat News, Fariborz Arazm, a Christian convert who resides in the city of Robat-Karim was arrested by the Islamic republic officials.

fariborz-A-mohabatnews

On Monday, October 17, a group of four officers in a sudden attack raided into Fariborz house, arrested him and transferred him to an unknown location.

 It was 7:30 in the morning and just before he leaves the house for work, the plain clothes officers attacked his resident without any proof of warrant.

 The officers searched the house upside-down and made a mess out of it. They confiscated Fariborz's computer's hard disk, CDs, Pictures and a number of Bibles. The family also were threatened to remain silent and not to talk about this incident to anyone.

Fariborz Arazm, 44, is the father of two children. He has not been able to contact nor visit his family since the arrestment. This unclear situation has caused stress and anxiety for his family and friends.

According to this report, there is no information regarding Fariborz's present location and his family is suffering from this uncertainty. They are also seriously concerned about his health. They have also tried to find out the reason of his arrest and charges but no information has been given to them until now. However, apparently the arrestment is related to his Christian faith.

Article 32 of the constitution of Islamic republic of Iran clearly states that, "no one should be arrested, unless the legal warrant has been issued for the person. Also the reason of the arrestment should be clearly notified to the arrestee. Accordingly, the initial case should be sent to be reviewed by the righteous judicial authorities within 24 hours. Also the case should be processed as soon as possible.

At the same time, according to the report received by Mohabat News, Another Christian by the name of "Mohammad" was arrested in another city named Shahriar. The authorities interrogated him for the charge of Christianity. During the interrogation session, Mehdi stated that he was studying about the Christian religion. The interrogators questioned him about his Christian faith in more details. He was threatened and eventually released some hours later.

This incident took place while the article 23 of the constitutional states that, "Inquisition is prohibited and no one should be harassed or interrogated because of his/her belief".

It is notable here that discrimination and persecution against the religious minorities has always been a major matter of violation of the Human Rights by the Iranian regime during the past 30 years. Ahmad Shaheed, U.N's special rapporteur on the Human Rights situation in Iran, has also mentioned this issue in his first report about the Human Rights situation in Iran. He indicated in his report that the religious minorities inside Iran are facing serious restrictions regarding their rights and religious practices.

Pastor Vahik released from Iranian prison (ANS)

(ANS) 31 Aug 2011Pastor Vahik Abrahamian, a 45-year-old Armenian Christian, was released from prison during the morning of Monday, August 29, 2011, after suffering greatly behind bars for a year, and has now rejoined his family. 

Pastor Vahik Abrahamian pictured with his wife Sonia before they were arrested

According to the Farsi Christian News Network (http://www.fcnn.com/), Pastor Abrahamian was arrested by security agents, together with his wife Sonia Keshish Avanessian, on Saturday September 4, 2010, in his home in Hamedan, which is believed to be among the oldest Iranian cities and one of the most ancient in the world.

 Pastor Vahik and his wife, together with family friends, Arash and Arezou, were all held for 44 days in solitary confinement in the Iranian Ministry of Information’s detention center.

“In this period all were subjected to intensive interrogation and severe mental and psychological torture without any permission to contact family or friends,” a spokesperson for FCCN told the ASSIST News Service (http://www.assistnews.net/).

“They were then moved to the Hamedan prison’s general ward and after eight months of ordeal they were proven not guilty in a court hearing and subsequently Sonia, Arash and Arezou were released on April 30, 2010, but Pastor Vahik was held back until now.”

During his one year imprisonment, FCNN obtained reports of Pastor Abrahamian’s poor health and also about the prison’s “deplorable hygiene conditions which made family, friends and entire Christian community extremely concerned.”

The FCCN spokesperson went on to say, “This anxiety was heightened upon the release of the three other prisoners. The Christian community worldwide, particularly the Iranian Christian community has been faithfully holding Pastor Vahik in prayers. The news of worldwide prayer was a cause of comfort and strength and encouragement for the immediate family in Iran and overseas.

“It is noteworthy to note that despite his obtaining citizenship in the Netherlands and the possibility of leading a comfortable life there, Pastor Vahik Abrahamian opted to return to his beloved country and he and his wife Sonia dedicated their efforts and meager resources to reach out and assist drug addicts and all sorts of abused people in the society.

“Vahik, having been miraculously touched by Christ his Lord and Savior, considered of utmost priority and privilege to reach out to the outcasts and down-casts of the society.

“It is ironic that the authorities, despite witnessing the pure motives, selfless attitude and indeed the wonderful result of Vahik and Sonia’s sacrificial efforts, instead of offering support and assistance arrested him on February 2010 and held him on trumped-up charges in the infamous Evin prison for 53 days in solitary confinement and 5 days in the general ward.

“He was released after his family and friends posted a cash bail of 10 million Toomans pending his trial,” added the FCCN spokesperson. “Vahik and Sonia had already moved out to Hamedan to live peacefully and serve the community away from the clutter of the capital and were indeed in their own home with one other couple when they were suddenly arrested.”

An extended member of Vahik and Sonia Abrahamian’s family has told FCNN that the whole family is “rejoicing” and “expressed their gratitude first to God for His gracious protection and intervention and secondly to the Christian family worldwide who have not ceased praying and advocating on their behalf.”

“FCNN would like to add its thankfulness to all who have been raising awareness and prayers in churches and writing notes and letters of encouragement and support,” stated the spokesperson. “Let’s pray for other Christians still held in captivity particularly for Farshid Fathi who has been held in Evin prison for over six months.

"Vahik and Sonia have refrained speaking with anyone outside immediate family hence it has not been possible to ascertain his physical and emotional wellbeing.

“FCNN would like to ask all to pray for Vahik and Sonia’s and Arash and Arezou’s physical and emotional healing,” concluded the spokesperson.

Mattias Haghnejad released from prison (PresentTruth)

(PresebtTruth) 30 Aug 2011 -We give thanks to God that brother Matthias Haghnejad was released from prison on bail today, Saturday August 27th! A family member pledged their property so that he could get out of prison. Thank you for praying for him and for all who helped make this known throughout the world. God worked through your prayers and made a way for his release.  

He is being charged with blasphemy against Islam. This is a serious charge against him so I ask that you continue to pray for him and his family. God made a way for his acquittal previously and I believe he will do so again.

Iran Pastor arrested (PresentTruth)

(PresentTruth) 18 Aug 2011Brother Matthias Haghnejad, from Bandar-e Anzali, Iran was arrested around 11:00 AM CST on August 17, 2011 in Rasht.

He was in the home of a friend and was arrested there. You may recall, recently, he was acquitted of the charge of activities against the Order. More details on the charges against him and his current circumstances will follow, God willing.

Pray for his safety and quick release.

Temporary released after 114 days (ICC)(Mohabat News)

 19 July 2011 - Masoud Delijani one of the Christians converts who was arrested in Kermanshah simultaneous with the widespread Christians apprehension all over the country, was released temporarily on bail after 114 days in detention and also solitary cell.

Quoted by Iranian Christian News Agency, "Mohabat News", "Masoud Delijani" who was arrested on March 18, 2011 by the security force in Kermanshah was freed on Saturday July 09, 2011 after 114 days in prison of Intelligence Ministry.
He was arrested by plain clothes force in Kermanshah along with 9 other Christians converts including his wife "Nahid Shirazi".After bearing the detention days while the hard and arduous conditions caused him to be in weakness physical situation and under spiritual pressure he was released after posting a bail of $100,000 USD.
The received reports to Mohabat News indicates he is not in good physical situation now and is waiting for clarify court dates by Judiciary.
The charges brought against him from the Judiciary are his faith and belief to Christian faith and holding home church meetings.

 

Christianity inside Iran (Report from Compass Direct News)

June 24, 2011 - Increased public statements against Christianity in Iran have intensified pressures on Christians, sources said, but at their core they reflect Islamic leaders’ dismay with the growth of house churches and may signal dissension within Iran’s leadership. 

“The reality is most of the house churches are so hidden that the government can’t do anything, and they know it,” said a regional expert who requested anonymity. “They just see how the house churches are still growing.”The source said that since mass arrests at the beginning of this year, Christians have been more cautious. Another Iranian Christian, a pastor, said the comments likely foretell more arrests.“I believe that a new wave of persecution is underway,” he said. “The authorities are in the process of evaluating the situation.”
 
Some sources told Compass the comments of Islamic leaders may indicate a power struggle between Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. This bodes ill for Christians and minorities in general, they said.
 
“When there is conflict in the government and division, then all the minorities will have a hard time,” said another Christian Iranian who requested anonymity. “If, for example, Ayatollah     [Mohammad Taghi Mesbah] Yazdi says ‘We have to end the Christian movement,’ as he said a few weeks ago, that is enough for his followers in the government to go and arrest Christians.” In May Yazdi said authorities have not done enough to quench the growth of Christian house churches, considering the “massive funding” the government has spent toward that end. Yazdi made his statement in a meeting with the heads of the Islamic Propagation Center of Qom. His statement was originally publicized on the Iranian Student News Agency website, according to Iranian Christian news agency Mohabat News. Given the “the growth of Christianity in some of the provinces, the actions taken by the government and the judicial authorities, and the massive funding of such programs, the desired results have not been achieved, and this is partly due to the undisciplined attitude and lack of proper supervision of these programs,” Yazdi reportedly said. Yazdi suggested that the government set up a central system to monitor and coordinate the suppression of churches. 
 
Another Christian source said the political situation in Iran is too complicated to predict future arrests on the basis of religious leaders’ public statements. The source, who requested anonymity, said that Yazdi is one of Iran’s most influential clerics and receives government funds to carry out his work. This year he has received a fraction of the funds he has in the past. His public statement could be a request for more money, the source said. “Maybe he’s just asking for more money,” said the source. “There are elements that indicate there could be another wave of arrests, but maybe he’s saying something different: ‘We should be changing our tactics [against Christians], so I need more money.’”
 
Today Mohabat reported that a faculty member of Mehdi Seminary in Qom claimed that “the enemies of Islam” are providing US$50,000 a year to some house churches. The general director of comparative religious studies, Hojatoleslam Tarashioon, was speaking at the seminary in Qom, the country’s Shiite center and breeding ground for Iran’s Islamic clerics and leaders. “This cult in recent years has become active, and today they work under the pretext of cultural and educational centers and have expanded their activities in several provinces,” Tarashioon said, according to Mohabat. 
 
Religious leaders also publicly attacked the country’s underground house church movement last fall. In October, Khamenei said Iran’s enemies wanted to shake the country’s religious and societal values through the spread of Baha’ism and a network of Christian house churches.Experts believe these public attacks on Christians, and particularly Khamenei’s, resulted in authorities arresting over 120 Iranian Christians between December and January. Most of those detained were converts from Islam.
 
Still in Prison
Of those arrested at the beginning of this year, all but three were released, according to a recent report from the Elam Ministries. 
 
Farshid Fathi, 32, has been incarcerated since Dec. 26, 2010 at the notorious Evin prison in Tehran. Authorities refuse to release him and have pressed no formal charges. They have kept Fathi in solitary confinement for months and have used psychological torture methods on him to extract more information on Christian networks in Iran. They have allowed him to speak to his family only once a week, according to Mohabat. Fathi is married and has two children. 
 
Authorities have kept Abrahim Firuzi in prison at Robat Karim near Tehran since Jan. 8, according to Elam. They charged him with evangelizing, keeping many copies of the Bible and apostasy, or leaving Islam, reported the ministry. His family is unable to pay bail. 
 
Another Christian, Noorollah Ghabitizadeh, has been in prison since Dec. 24, 2010, in Defzul in western Iran, according to Elam. 
 
A fourth Christian, Masoud Delijani, was arrested on March 17 in Kermanshah and remains in prison. 
 
Ethnic Armenian Christian Vahik Abrahamian has been in prison since Sept. 4, 2010. On May 1 authorities released his wife, Sonia Keshish-Avanesian, who was imprisoned with him, according to Elam. Abrahamian also spent two months in prison between February and April of last year. He was released on bail and re-arrested in September. 
 
Yousef Naderkhani, a Christian from Rasht, has been in prison since October 2009. Authorities found him guilty of apostasy on Nov. 13, 2010, and handed him the death penalty. His lawyer has filed an appeal with the Supreme Court, and Nadarkhani is awaiting a trial date. Authorities have allegedly treated Nadarkhani harshly, both physically and mentally.  
 

On May 31, authorities arrested another Christian, Behnam Irani of Karaj, according to a reliable source. 
 
Iran’s Constitution gives Christians “protected” religious minority status, but in practice they face substantial societal discrimination, according to the U.S. Department of State’s International Religious Freedom Report 2010.

Concerns Grow Over “Tortured” Iran Prisoner Fathi (bosnewslife.com)

June 10, 2011 - The fate of an Iranian Christian prisoner remained unclear Friday, June 10, nearly nine months after he was detained by security forces as part of a reported government crackdown on devoted Christians in this strict Islamic nation.

Farshid Fathi, 32, who lives in Tehran, was arrested September 26 "and remains in custody in the political prison ward of" Tehran's Evin Prison, reported Mohabat News, an Iranian Christian news agency.Unlike most other Christians detained in recent police raids on homes, Farshid has remained jailed for months, claimed Mohabat News, which has close ties with Iranian Christians. "Of the more than 60 believers rounded up in [other raids in] December, half were released within hours of their arrests," the agency told BosNewsLife.

Iranian Christians say Farshid was targeted because of his evangelism activities and alleged foreign contacts. He has reportedly been subjected to what Iranian Christians call "psychological torture by security forces and interrogators" as part of Iran's efforts to obtain a list of his contacts and of those who responded to his Gospel message.Among controversial tactics used was temporarily releasing Farshid and then immediately re-arresting him and putting him in solitary confinement, according to Iranian Christians with close knowledge about the case.

YOUNG CHILDREN

The situation is difficult fir his two young children, Rosana and Barbod, "who have not seen or heard from their dad in five months," Mohabat News added.The high bail amount set by authorities leaves the family unable to pay for his release, according to Christians familiar with the case. His family facing financial pressures "have been forced to sell Farshid's father-in-law's home in order to survive this period of difficulty," Mohabat News said.

Iranian officials have not responded to these claims, and there have been no known court order or instructions issued in his case.Rights activists say however that Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's government is concerned about the spread of Christianity among Muslims at a time of political upheaval in the Arab world. "Because Iran is a strategic gateway nation, the growing church in Iran will impact Muslim nations across the Islamic world," said Elam Ministries, a group of Iranian church leaders in a recent assessment.

It claimed that the number of Christians has grown from 500 known believers in 1979 to at least 100,000 today. Church leaders have reportedly said that "millions" can be added "to the church in the next few years-such is the spiritual hunger that exists and the disillusionment with the Islamic regime."

Released after 105 days in detention (ICC)(Mohabat News)

 

A lot of detainees from the recent wave of persecution on Christians have been released on bail, and they are waiting for their next Trial.

According to the reporters of Iranian Christian news agency "Mohabat News", Mehdi Forutan was released temporarily on $50000 USD bail from Evin prison on the evening Saturday 9 April 2011, after 105 days of detention.

Mehdi Forutan was arrested on Sunday morning 26 December 2010, while he was in his father's house by four intelligence officers. They also searched the house and took his computer, CDs, and books. They have not returned his belongings after his release.

 

Blasphemy trial postponed (ANS)(CSW)

 

The blasphemy trial of five members from the Church of Iran has been adjourned due to a lack of evidence.

According to a news release from human rights group Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW), the trial of Pastor Behrouz Sadegh-Khandjani, Mehdi Furutan, Mohammad Beliad, Parviz Khalaj and Nazly Beliad has been adjourned until April 12 in order to give the prosecution more time to gather evidence.

CSW said lawyers representing the five men have consistently maintained that there are no legal grounds for the blasphemy charges, and remain optimistic that the case will eventually be dismissed.

According to the news release from CSW, in an earlier trial at the Revolutionary Court in Shiraz, the five men were handed a one-year sentence for Crimes against the Islamic Order, which their legal team believes will also be withdrawn on appeal.

CSW's National Director Stuart Windsor said in the news release, "CSW urges the Iranian government to ensure that these men receive due process, and are acquitted of all charges that have no legal bearing under Iranian law."

He added, "However, we remain concerned for Pastor Yousef Nadarkhani, who awaits an appeal against his death sentence for apostasy, and for the seven Baha'i leaders detained since 2008, who recently had their 20-year prison sentence reinstated, despite already enduring 30 months of detention without trial. The international community must press Iran to end the arbitrary arrest and imprisonment of religious minorities purely on account of their faith."

Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) works for religious freedom through advocacy and human rights.

 

Iranian House Church Stormed by Security Officers


By Jeremy Reynalds - Senior Correspondent for ASSIST News Service

IRAN (ANS) -- Iranian security forces have stormed a house church and arrested 10 members.

According to the Iranian Christian News Agency Mohabat News, the incident occurred on March 17, when 17 security officers stormed a house in the city of Kermanshah and arrested 10 Christians.

Kermanshah is located in the western part of Iran near Iraqi border, 590 KM from Tehran.

Mohabat News said while there has been no explanation offered by the Iranian Government's security sources, it is likely that these 10 house church members were arrested because of their Christian beliefs and participation in church gatherings. That, the news agency commented, is is in line with the recent wave of repressive actions taken by the government against Iranian Christians.

Mohabat News said the house was a place for new believers to get together for praise and worship. Intelligence Ministry agents used excessive force to arrest the Christians, and they were then handcuffed and moved to an undisclosed location.

Mohabat News said there is a good reason for Christian believers in Iran worshiping in private homes. The country's theocratic government does not allow Farsi speaking Christians to have a church building as a place of worship.

Mohabat News said security forces also searched the home and collected Christian paintings, Bibles, DVDs, a computer case and personal identifications.

Mohabat News said the agency was informed that seven of the detainees were released on March 18 after long hours of interrogation. The release occurred after they were pictured and finger printed, and signed an affidavit saying they would never participate in such (Christian) events again.

There is no word about the well being of those who remain in custody or where they are.

Mohabat News said a well placed source says the families of the individuals still imprisoned have unsuccessfully asked the authorities for information on their loved ones.

Mohabat News said prior to this incident, an elderly Christian minister, Rev Wilson Issavi, was arrested by government security agents in the city of Kermanshah on February 2, 2010 and was released temporarily, after 54 days in detention, from the Dastgerd prison in Isfahan after posting bail. He is still waiting to be summoned to the revolutionary court to deal with the charges brought against him.

For more information go to www.mohabatnews.com

The Conditional Release of Two Detained Iranian Christians from Karoon Prison in Ahvaz

By Dan Wooding - Founder of ASSIST Ministries

AHVAZ, IRAN (ANS) -- Two new Christian believers who were arrested by security agents and spent more than 63 days in Karoon prison of Ahvaz were conditionally released after posting a combined bail of $100,000 USD.

According to sources close to Mohabat News (http://www.mohabatnews.com/), the Iranian Christian news agency, the temporary release of these prisoners of conscience from custody coincides with the recent conditional freedoms granted to political and security-risk prisoners.

Mostafa Shokrollahi and Khalil Yarali, who were arrested in January of 2011 by the security agents and held in custody in Karoon prison of Ahvaz were released after 63 days in detention.

Ahvaz is the capital of the oil-rich province of Khuzestan and is about 543 miles Southwest of Tehran.

The conditional released was allowed after each defendant posted a bond of approximately $50,000 USD.

Sources familiar with this case have informed Mohabat News that the court hearing for these two individuals will be held next month.

"In light of the fact that currently these individuals have been charged with national security crimes, it is possible that they may be sentenced to prison terms of between 2-5 years," said a spokesperson for Mohabat News.

"Mostafa Shokrollahi was arrested on January 15, 2011 concurrent with the wave of arrested and repressive measures that were enacted by the government to crack down on the activities of Christians in Tehran and cities all over Iran.

"Khalil Yarali, another Christian man arrested at the same time, was taken to the main offices of the Ministry of Information and subsequently detained at an unknown location," added the spokesperson.

 

Standing trail for blasphemy: Iran (ANS)

 

A human rights organization has been informed that five Iranian Christians, who were recently sentenced to one year's imprisonment for crimes against the Islamic Order at the Revolutionary Court in Shiraz, will soon stand trial in a lower court on blasphemy charges.

Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) reported in a news release that Pastor Behrouz Sadegh-Khandjani, Mehdi Furutan, Mohammad Beliad, Parviz Khalaj and Nazly Beliad, members of the Church of Iran denomination, were arrested in June 2010 on charges of apostasy, political meetings, blasphemy and crimes against the Islamic Order.

CSW said they spent eight months in jail before being released on bail in February. Their lawyer has appealed the one-year prison sentence for crimes against the Islamic Order and a decision is pending.

It was initially assumed, CSW reported, that the other charges against the five men had been dropped. However, a source close to the detainees has revealed that they will now face charges of blasphemy in a lower court, possibly due to the fact that lower courts are generally more disposed to hand down guilty verdicts.

CSW said the situation for Christians in Iran is worsening, with churches finding it difficult to hold meetings, and many Christians attempting to flee the country. 

 

Executed : 5 Non-Muslims (ANS)

 

Iranian authorities recently secretly executed a Jewish-Armenian couple along with one women and two other men. It's unknown what they were charged with.

 

The dawn execution was on March 14.

That's according to a story from the Iranian Christian News Agency "Mohabat News," who talked with human rights activists in Iran.Mohabat News said Adiva Mirza Soleiman Kalimi was Jewish Iranian, and her husband, Varoujan Petrosian, was an Armenian Iranian. The identities of the other individuals remain unknown.

Mohabat News said the families of the victims asked authorities to return the bodies of their loved ones so they could be buried according to their cultural and religious customs. However, they received threats of arrest for doing so from agents of the Ministry of Intelligence

Mohabat News said while a division court of the Revolutionary Court, located inside the Evin prison, confirmed the execution, it refused to provide further details about what happened to the prisoner's bodies.

 

For more information about Mohabat News go to http://www.mohabatnews.com/

Although the article gives no indication if the executed prisoners were Christian or not, we believe that posting this article will draw attention towards the persecution of non-Muslim minority groups inside of Iran. If 5 prisoners were secretively executed without anyone finding out at the time, what will the fate of brother Youcef be if we stop advocating for him.

Please continue to pray for the government of Iran and for Christians who are being persecuted. 

Crimes against the order: 5 Imprisoned (ANS)

 

The Islamic Republic of Iran is continuing their campaign of persecution against evangelical and non-denominational house churches. In particular, message believers are targeted as they feel their movement is isolated and thus easier to destroy.Yesterday (March 8) the Revolutionary Court of Shiraz held trial for the following individuals for actions against the Islamic order: Behrouz Sadegh-Khandjani, Mehdi Furutan, Mohammad Beliad, Parviz Khalaj, and Nazly Beliad.

Jason DeMars of www.presmettruthmn.com  reports: "They have been sentenced to one year in prison and have 20 days to appeal the sentencing. I ask that you pray for their safety and for wisdom to know the direction that God is leading them in their lives."DeMars continued: "I want to give you a bigger picture of the situation for Christians in Iran. For each individual that becomes a Christian, there is the immediate understanding of the suffering that goes along with that decision.

"First, there is pressure from their Muslim family as their conversion causes the family shame. Secondly, there is the pressure that the government will find out about their conversion, arrest them, torture them, and put them in prison.

"Currently, the political situation in Iran forces them to either meet completely secretly in extremely small groups, or not to meet at all. Third, when you apply for a job you must disclose what religion you are a part of.DeMars said that if you are a Christian in Iran, you are typically not hired for the position. Therefore the financial situation of a Christian tends to be quite difficult.

"This is what we call a 'squeeze' on believers there from every direction: political, familial, and financial," he said. "The financial aspect is not only the result of the sanctions, but the government also cut the subsidies for gas and food so the price of both have increased significantly in the last few months. 

Please pray for the release of these Christians. 

 

Iran: Concern rises for two Christian couples jailed since September (ICC)

Release contacts say they are increasingly concerned for two Christian couples imprisoned in Iran and are calling for prayer and advocacy on their behalf.Pastor Vahik Abrahamian and his wife Sonia Keshish-Avanesian were with their friends, Arash Kermanjani and his wife Arezo Teymouri, when all four were detained on September 4.
The two couples, who are close friends, were arrested at the Abrahamians' home in Hamadan, west Iran, and taken initially to the Ministry of Islamic Guidance prison.For the first 40 days, they were held in solitary confinement and reportedly suffered physical abuse and psychological pressure. Pastor's wife Sonia, who was pregnant when she was arrested, is said to have suffered a miscarriage – her fourth.

The couples, who are now being held in Hamadan prison, are reported to have been accused of various offences, including propagating Christianity, opposing the Islamic Republic of Iran, and having contact with exiled opposition figures.
Release contacts have expressed concern about the couples' well-being – and about their prospects for justice. They are now asking Christians in the West to write polite letters of concern to the Iranian authorities, asking for their immediate release.
Pressure on Iranian house churches appears to have increased since Ayatollah Khamenei, Iran's supreme leader, branded home-based churches a new threat to the regime in a speech last October.

Pray:

Pray for the immediate release of these four Christians from Hamadan. Ask God to comfort and heal them after their ordeal – and bless their ministry.
Pray for a change of heart among Iranian officials who appear to equate home-based churches with a threat to national security.

45 Christians detained. (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.

 

Please continue to pray for Christians in Iran

7 Christians released. (Elam Ministries)

Four women were released from Tehran's Evin Prison last night (29th January 2011), and one woman and two men from the prison in Isfahan three days ago. They spent over a month in prison, most of them in solitary confinement, solely for being Christians. They were all arrested on December 26th, 2010 along with 31 others.

Sara Akhavan's family had to surrender their trade licence, which means that if the authorities deem bail is broken, the family's livelihood would be destroyed.  This trade licence was not enough to also bring the release of Sara's sister, Leila Akhavan still in Evin prison. Ladan Nouri, Nasrin Hosseini-nia, Anahita (her husband, Javad Zare still in prison) were the other women released temporarily on bail. Rafi Nadipoor, Basir Amini and Yasaman Yar-Ahmadi were released temporarily in Isfahan on bail.

There are reports that families of the three of the Christians in Mashad arrested earlier this month have been told they must pay $180,000 bail to secure their temporary release. The experience of prison and interrogation can be very traumatic and some Christians who endure this ordeal then decide to seek asylum in another country. Their families then not only lose their loved ones to exile, but also suffer the dire financial consequences as the state swallows up the bail money. 

Over 70 Christians Arrested in Iran

This page is dedicated to the Christians who are still in prison after being arrested on 25 December 2010 in Iran

Also visit the webpage of Elam Ministries for more information: http://elam.com/articles/70-Christians-Arrested/ 

13 January 2011- Urgent prayer needed (ELAM Ministries)

Since our January 4th email about the arrest of Christians, there has been no contact from those detained on December 26th 2010. It is almost certain they are in interrogation Block 209 in the basement of Evin Prison, Tehran. This is where Christians are initially taken, according to other believers who have endured imprisonment.

 

While being interrogated, the arrested are blindfolded and questioned by different officers for hours on end.  After the questioning, the prisoners are returned to their cells until called again to the interrogation room. 

 

Whenever they leave their cells, they are blindfolded. Intense psychological pressure is put on the Christians to renounce their faith. There are many reports that prisoners held in this block have been tortured. During the time of interrogation, which can go on for over a month, no contact with family members is allowed.

  

Iranian church leaders are calling for an international day of prayer and fasting for Christian prisoners in Iran this Sunday, January 16th, 2011. Please join us in praying for the suffering church in Iran.

 

Please pray for:   

  • Christians to remain strong during this trial.
  • Christ to be glorified through their suffering.
  • A swift end to this ordeal.

Over 70 Christians Arrested in Iran during Christmas

In the early morning hours after Christmas day, the Iranian government arrested 25 Christians in Tehran and other locations. They also planned to detain sixteen others, but were unable to locate them. There are also unconfirmed reports that the authorities have arrested over 50 other Christians. According to BBC Persian, the Governor of Tehran has vowed to arrest more evangelical Christians. 

  

One of those detained was able to make a call to friends from an unknown location on the morning of the arrests, leaving this message -

  

"Unfortunately early this morning the authorities came to our homes. They arrested us and many other believers. I want to ask you to pray for us. We are sure God will never leave us or forsake us.  God bless you.  Sorry for giving you bad news over Christmas, but I believe God will do something for us."

  

Those who received the voice message were impressed by the caller's courage and calmness.

  

Armed, plain-clothes, special security officers forcefully entered the homes of Christians while they were asleep, and verbally and physically abused them. They were handcuffed and taken for interrogation. Among those arrested were five married couples. One couple was separated from their two-year old baby.  Another couple was also forced to leave their baby that the mother was breastfeeding. A number of single young women were also among those taken.

  

Another sixteen Christians would have been arrested, but were not at home. The security forces broke into at least five such homes, ransacking them, taking personal possessions, changing the locks and placing a government seal on the door. Family members of these Christians have been called by the authorities and threatened and harassed. They were instructed to tell the Christians to surrender themselves.  

 

After many hours of interrogation, eleven of the detained were released. The other fourteen are still in prison. There has been no contact from eight of the arrested.  Six have been able to make a very short call to their families. In one of the brief calls, one of the arrested complained that they are being subjected to sleep deprivation.

 

None of them have been granted any legal representation. No charges have been made, though it is clear that they were arrested for their active Christian faith.  There has been a gross lack of due process. The government authorities have not provided any written documents as to the reason for the arrests, any record of the items confiscated, and family members are not allowed to visit the detained.

  

There is an urgent need for Christians all over the world to intercede for our brothers and sisters in prison in Iran.

  

Let us pray that they will experience the presence and the power of the Holy Spirit, even in their prison cells. Pray they will have supernatural endurance and courage through this trial, and be shining witnesses to the guards and other inmates. Pray for peace and wisdom when they are being interrogated. Pray for their health. Pray for comfort and confidence for their families. Pray they will soon be released.

  

Pray for the welfare and protection of those the government is still seeking to arrest. Pray the Lord will guide their every step. Pray for the wider church in Iran to continue faithfully and fearlessly proclaiming the Good News of the Gospel. Pray for those who are working to help the persecuted and their families.

 

It is comforting to know that our sovereign, omniscient, all-powerful God knows about every single arrest that has been made, and that He will bring glory to His name through this suffering. He will cause this persecution to bring victory for His Kingdom in Iran.