Several individuals were arrested during a raid on a house church in Western Tehran late last week, a source informed about the recent arrests of Christian converts in Tehran told the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran. Four of the detainees are Parham Farazmand, Sara Sardsirian, Sedigheh Kiani, and Mona Fazli.
“On Friday, August 9, security forces raided this house church in Tehran, beat, abused, and threatened individuals who were engaged in weekly worship, searched the premises and cell phones and other personal items of the attendees, and transferred five Christian converts, including Parham Farazmand, Sedigheh Kiani, Sara Sardsirian, and Mona Fazli, to an unknown location,” the source told the Campaign.
The source added that the forces were equipped with two-way radios and handguns and used violence against the Christian citizens. In addition to arresting the above-mentioned individuals, the source added, the forces confiscated the identification cards of other individuals present and several other items from the premises. The location and conditions of the detainees are not yet known.
Last week, news websites reported arrests of Sedigheh Amirkhani, Mahnaz Rafiee, and Mohammad Reza Peymani, three Christian converts in Isfahan. The human rights activist told the Campaign that repeated inquires by the detainees’ families to Iranian police and judicial authorities have been fruitless. Only one of the detainees, Sedigheh Amirkhani, has been able to make a telephone call to her family to inform them of her health and her detention and interrogation inside a security organization. “Last week, JARAS website published a note by Farshid Fathi, an imprisoned Christian pastor, who spoke of his torture during his detention inside security detention centers, reporting insults, degradation, slander, and threats during his detention in solitary confinement,” said the source. Farshid Fathi, a Christian citizen, is currently serving a six-year prison sentence inside Evin Prison.
Pressure on Christian converts has increased in recent years. After warnings by Islamic Republic leaders, Christian house churches have been growing at an accelerated pace, and over recent months security forces have attacked, persecuted, and arrested many Christian converts in Khuzestan, Tehran, Fars, and Isfahan provinces.
According to reports, the conditions of imprisoned Iranian pastor Saeed Abedini in Evin Prison are not known, and Branch 26 of Tehran Revolutionary Court recently sentenced Mostafa (Mohammad Hadi) Bordbar, a Christian convert, to 10 years in prison.
In late spring of this year, Tehran’s oldest Persian-language Protestant church, Central Assembly of God, was shut down under pressure by Intelligence Ministry forces.
At the time, Mansour Borji, the spokesperson for the Article 18 initiative of the United Council of Iranian Churches (Hamgaam) and an advocate for Iranian Christians, told the Campaign about the reasons the church and its leaders have been targeted for harassment, “It’s because this church’s services are held in the Persian language and they don’t want non-Christians to participate in them. They are afraid that the number of Christian converts will grow. Of course, before the  Revolution, this Church held its services in Persian, because many Christians are not well versed in the Armenian language. After the Revolution, there was pressure at different times to shut down the Persian-language churches and the pressure has intensified over recent years. Most Persian-language churches have been slowly closed down over recent years. Churches in Mashhad, Western and Eastern Azerbaijan, Arak, Shiraz, and Ahvaz were all shut down. This church of the Assemblies of God has the largest congregation of all Persian-language churches and is more than half a century old.”
In January, the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran published a comprehensive reportabout the persecution, detention, and prison sentences of Christian converts in Iran over the past several years.
Posted by Theodore Shoebat