At least 13 Christians have been arrested across Tabriz, Isfahan and Tehran in the past six weeks. The charges against the individuals remain unknown.
A crackdown on Christian converts in Tabriz began last month when three men, Farshid Modares, Aval Samad Kazemi and Hamid Reza, were arrested on July 10th following raids on their homes. Fellow believer Yashar Farzin No was arrested the following day and Mohammad Reza Piri, on July 17th. There have been reports of other Christians subsequently arrested in Tabriz whose identities are unknown.
Mohammad Reza Piri sustained serious injuries after being tortured and severely beaten during interrogations and had to spend four days in the hospital of the central prison of Tabriz. Mr. Kazemi was released on bail a few days after his arrest, but the rest of the group remains detained. Prior to the arrests, Yashar Farzin No and his wife had been repeatedly put under pressures to recant their new Christian faith and return to Islam.
According to the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran, five additional Christian converts were recently arrested during a raid on a house church in Western Tehran. The house raid, which occurred on August 9th, was reportedly violent and the five individuals, Parham Farazmand, Sara Sardsirian, Sedigheh Kiani, Mona Fazli and one unnamed other, were taken to an unknown location. One week prior to the arrests in Tehran, three Christians, Sedigheh Amirkhani, Mahnaz Rafiee, and Mohammad Reza Peymani, were arrested in the city of Isfahan, according to the International Campaign.
Mostafa Bordbar, a Christian convert who was sentenced to ten years imprisonment in July on political charges, remains in Evin prison and is believed to be awaiting an appeal hearing. Ebrahim Firouzi, a Christian from Robat-Karim, has reportedly been sentenced to one year in prison and two years exile to a remote border town for his Christian activities.
Rev. Sam Yeghnazar, Executive Director of Elam said, “I am deeply grieved to see the ongoing brutal persecution of Christians in Iran, and my prayers and thoughts are with those currently detained and their families. Now that President Rouhani has expressed his determination to re-open the lines of dialogue with the West, Iran should ensure significant improvement in the treatment of its religious minorities. The Iranian authorities cannot continue terrorising and abusing its own citizens in this manner and expect to remain in dialogue: we must pray and speak out to ensure that the new president has no doubt of what the international community expects.”