Warning: explode() expects parameter 2 to be string, object given in /home/tifforr/public_html/wp-content/themes/made/inc/single-normal.php on line 148
Iran frees three Christians, arrest 11 others
Iran released three Christians in late April this year, but picked up 11 others, in a country where up to 200 Christians are believed to be languishing in jails in that country.
The three Christians who were released from Hamadan prison are Arash Kermanjani, wife Arezo Teimouri and Sonia Keshish Avanessian. The three had been in prison for eight months with no charges filed, BosNewsLife said.
The husband of Avanessian, namely Vahik Abrahamian, remains in jail with his state of physical condition unknown. Abrahamian is Dutch-Iranian, but Iran’s government does not recognize Dutch citizenship if one is a native-born Iranian, according to BosNewsLife.
The four were arrested with eight others in the midst of a Christian gathering in Abrahamian’s home in Vahik town, BosNewsLife said.
The Christians were being coerced to pay $190,000 each. Christian Solidarity Worldwide told BosNewsLife, “[W]hen it became clear that no such payment would be forthcoming, three were released, but were neither bailed nor acquitted. No reason has been given for Vahik Abrahamian’s continued imprisonment.”
The Christians were kept in solitary confinement for 40 days in an unknown location before they were moved to Hamadan Public Prison, located some 211 miles from Tehran. Iran’s government-controlled media called them “Zionist Christians” due to alleged evangelism activities, according to BosNewsLife.
Meanwhile some 11 members of the Church of Iran were arrested and brought to the Revolutionary Tribunal in Bandar-Anzali city last May 1, on charges of attending a house church and drinking communion wine, Christian Today said.
The Christians’ lawyer, Seyyed Mohammed-Ali Dadkhah, said the hearing was very quick and Dadkhah had to hastily write a statement where he said the meeting was religious and he cited the constitutional rights of Christians and minorities, Christian Today said.
Dadkhah also wrote in the statement that there was no violation of shari’ah law through their presence in the meeting. They were told that an answer from the court would be coming within 10 days, Christian Today reported.
Andrew Johnston, advocacy director of CSW told Christian Today, “A guilty verdict against the Church of Iran members would effectively criminalize the taking of communion, and constitute a violation of Iran’s pledge under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights to respect the right of citizens to manifest their religion or belief in worship, observance, practice and teaching.”
Johnston also told Christian Today, “[T]he extended detention without charge of the Hamadan group, the extortionate sums of money demanded for their release, and the continuing detention of Vahik Abrahamian are wholly unacceptable.”
Johnston asked Iran’s government to “ensure an end to extended detentions without charge, and that Mr. Abrahamian and other members of religious minorities receive due process, are acquitted of all charges that have no legal basis, and enjoy the rights and privileges due to them under the national constitution and international statues to which Iran is party,” Christian Today reported.