Monday, 27 April 2009

IMHRO attended a day-long seminar in Durham University on the subject of Minorities in Iran

Iranian Minorities’ Human Rights Organisation (IMHRO)



IMHRO on 5th of March attended a day seminar in Durham University regard of Human rights of Minorities in Iran.

The seminar was organised by The Closed Door Campaign group in Durham University.

In the meeting Professor Ian Leigh, Co-Director of the Durham Human Rights Centre and expert on human right act 1998 in UK, discussed the Iranian government’s obligation to follow international law.

Daniel Wheatley, Government relation officer for UK Bahá'í community gave a detailed account of discrimination against and persecution of Bahá’í in Iran since 1979 revolution, including recent charges against 7 Bahá’í leaders which these cases are of particular international concern.

IMHRO researcher Reza Washahi provided details of the Islamist regime’s persecution of minorities over last 30 years, with some case studies and updates on current cases.

The meeting was very successful. It concluded with a question and answer session.

IMHRO is committed to increase worldwide awareness of the plight of minorities in Iran.

*in the photo from right to left, Professor Ian Leigh, Reza washahi and Daniel Wheatley .

Sunday, 26 April 2009

UK Parliament: Iran: Religious Freedom

Iran: Religious Freedom

23 Apr 2009

Ms Katy Clark: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent assessment he has made of the extent of freedom of religion and belief in Iran; and if he will make a statement. [269999]

Bill Rammell: Together with our EU partners we continue to have serious concerns about the situation of all religious minorities in Iran. These groups suffer state-sponsored and systematic forms of intimidation and persecution. They face gross human rights violations such as arbitrary detention without charge and without access to lawyers, confiscation of property and denial of education. Such detentions are becoming increasingly common in Iran, and are cause for serious concern.

Christian Examiner: In Iran, 'crackdown' on Christians worsens

WASHINGTON — Reports are emerging from Iran of heightened persecution of Christians.

Two Christian women are being detained by Iranian security forces as "anti-government activists," according to International Christian Concern, a human rights organization based in Washington. The imprisoned women reportedly are in ill health.

A Pentecostal church in Tehran has been ordered closed and three Iranian Christian men have been declared guilty of cooperating with "anti-government movements," according to Compass Direct News of Santa Ana, Calif., which provides reports on Christians worldwide who are persecuted for their faith.

In an overview of persecution in Iran, International Christian Concern stated: "Iranian officials have dramatically increased their persecution of Christians following the conversion of a large number of Muslims to Christianity. Last year alone, 50 Christians were arrested for practicing their faith, some of whom were tortured. There have also been reports that Christians died due to the torture they were forced to endure."

As phrased by Compass Direct News, there were "more than 50 documented arrests of Christians in 2008 alone." Compass added that "the recent government crackdown includes Christian institutions that minister beyond Iran's tiny indigenous Christian community."

Compass also noted: "A new penal code under consideration by the Iranian Parliament includes a bill that would require the death penalty for apostasy."
International Christian Concern, in its April 2 report on the two detained women, recounted:

"... [O]n March 5, 2009, Iranian security forces detained two Christian women for practicing Christianity. Iranian officials allege that Marzieh Amairizadeh Esmaeilabad and Maryam Rustampoor are 'anti-government activists.'

"According to the Farsi Christian News Network (FCNN), Iranian security officials searched the apartment shared by the two women and confiscated their personal belongings before they handcuffed and took the Christians to Police and Security Station 137 in Gaysha, west of Tehran. After appearing before the Revolutionary Court on March 18, the women were sent to the notorious Evin prison. Iranian officials told the Christian women to post bail at a staggering amount of $400,000 in order to be released from the prison.

"Both women are allowed just a one minute telephone call every day to their immediate families. Both are unwell and in need of urgent medical attention. During their last call on March 28, Marzieh said that she was suffering from an infection and high fever. She said, 'I am dying,' reported FCNN."

The Pentecostal church in Tehran was ordered closed because "it offered a Farsi-language service attended by converts from Islam," Compass reported March 31, attributing the information to the Farsi Christian News Network.

The church, which consists of Assyrian believers, was ordered closed by the Islamic Revolutionary Court, which, as Compass described it, was established as part of the Ayatollah Khomeini's 1979 Islamic revolution. An Assyrian member of Parliament, Yonathan Betkolia, announced the order on March 19.

Compass recounted that Betkolia last October had lauded freedoms extended to Iranian minority groups, but "he has publicly protested" the church allowing Farsi-language services for "non-Assyrians" (namely Muslims). An unnamed regional analyst said Betkolia waged the protest, as Compass put it, because "the increase in government pressure on the Christian community has put him in a difficult position."

Compass quoted the analyst as saying, "As a representative of the Assyrian community, a priority for Betkolia is to ensure the preservation of the limited freedoms and relative peace his traditional Christian community enjoys. Disassociation from a church which has welcomed believers from a Muslim background should therefore be seen as a form of self-defense."

Compass reported that the pastor of the church "has indicated that cancelling Farsi-language services may allow it to continue, though it was unclear at press time whether the congregation's leadership was willing to make that compromise."

Meanwhile, the three Iranian Christians declared guilty March 10 of cooperating with "anti-Christian movements" have received eight-month suspended prison sentences with a five-year probation. But, Compass reported, the Islamic Revolutional Court judge said he would enforce the sentences of Seyed Allaedin Hussein, Homayoon Shokouhi and Seyed Amir Hussein Bob-Annari — and try them as "apostates," or those who abandon Islam — if they violate their probation – "including a ban on contacting one another," Compass noted.
Compass reported: "The 'anti-government movements' referred to by the judge are satellite television stations Love Television and Salvation TV. Unlike the Internet, which is heavily censored in Iran, the two 24-hour satellite TV stations can bypass government information barriers.

"Sources said links between the accused and these organizations, however, remain tenuous," Compass continued, quoting an unnamed source as saying, "The TV link came up almost six months after [the original arrests], so it is very new. We believe they just made it up, or it is something they want to make appear more important than is the reality."

Compass further reported: "The three men were arrested by security forces on May 11, 2008, at the Shiraz airport while en route to a Christian marriage seminar in Dubai. According to a report by Farsi Christian News Network (FCNN), at that time the families of the three men avoided formal charges by agreeing to terms of release, including payment of a bond amount. Details of the terms were undisclosed."

According to Compass, "The number of Assyrian Christians in the country is estimated at between 10,000 and 20,000, with estimates of Armenian Christians in Iran ranging from 110,000 to 300,000."

Saturday, 25 April 2009

CPJ: World press freedom groups call for Saberi's release

Thirty-five members of the International Freedom of Expression Exchange (IFEX) join CPJ and Reporters Without Borders in a letter to the head of Iran's judiciary calling for the release of imprisoned journalist Roxana Saberi, currently held in Iran's Evin Prison.

His Excellency Ayatollah Mahmud Hashemi Shahroodi

Justice Ministry Bldg.

Pazdah-Khordad (Ark) Sq.Tehran, Iran
Fax: 98 21 222 90 151
Your Excellency:

As journalists and members of the global press freedom community we are writing to express our concern about the April 17 sentencing of Roxana Saberi to eight years in prison on charges of espionage, after a closed, one-day trial.
Saberi is a respected journalist who has lived in Iran for six years. She filed reports for NPR, the BBC, and other international news outlets before her press credentials were revoked in 2006.
We call for Saberi to be released. Her judicial guarantees have to be respected, according to international standards.

Trusting that you will fairly consider our collective request.

U.K.Algerian Centre for the Defence and Promotion of Press Freedom (CALP), AlgeriaArabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI),
EgyptAssociação Brasileira de Jornalismo Investigativo (ABRAJI),
Brazil Association of Independent Electronic Media (ANEM),
SerbiaBahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR)Canadian Journalists for Free Expression (CJFE),
Canada Cartoonists Rights Network, International (CRNI),
U.S.A.Center for Media Studies and Peace Building (CEMESP),
Liberia Centro de Periodismo y Etica Publica (CEPET),
MexicoCommittee to Protect Journalists, U.S.A.Independent Journalism Center (IJC),
Moldova Index on Censorship,
U.K. Institute of Mass Information (IMI),
UkraineInstitute for Reporter Freedom and Safety (IRFS),
Azerbaijan Instituto Prensa y Sociedad (IPYS),
PeruInternational Federation of Journalists (IFJ), BelgiumInternational PEN Writers in Prison Committee, U.K International Press Institute (IPI), AustriaFreedom House, U.S.A. Free Media Movement (FMM),
Sri Lanka Fundación para la Libertad de Prensa (FLIP),
ColombiaMaharat Foundation, Lebanon Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA), Namibia Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA),
Ghana Media Watch, Bangladesh Mizzima News Agency,
India/Burma Norwegian PEN,
Norway Observatoire pour la liberté de presse, d'édition et de creation (OLPEC),
Tunisia Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF),
Pakistan Reporters sans frontières (RSF),
France Southeast Asian Press Alliance (SEAPA), T
hailand World Association of Community Radio Broadcasters (AMARC),
Canada World Association of Newspapers (WAN),
France World Press Freedom Committee (WPFC), U.S.A.

Friday, 24 April 2009

VOA: Iran Urged To Release Prisoners

The Iranian government has reportedly charged a respected American journalist and graduate student with espionage. Roxana Saberi, who has lived in Iran for the past 6 years, was arbitrarily arrested for allegedly purchasing a bottle of wine and has been detained for over 2 months in Evin prison. In March, Iran's deputy prosecutor Hassan Haddad said Ms. Saberi would be released in "a few days."

Now he is quoted as saying her case has been given to the Revolutionary Court, which handles national security matters. In response to reports of the charges files against Ms. Saberi, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton once again voiced her concern:"We are deeply concerned by the news that we’re hearing. ... I will, as will the rest of the [State] Department, continue to follow this very closely. And we wish for her speedy release and return to her family."

The Iranian judiciary's decision to issue baseless charges against Roxana Saberi is once again shining a spotlight on the Islamic Republic of Iran's chronic failure to comply with international and regional human rights agreements that it has ratified: specifically, the right to a fair trial outlined in Article 10, and the right to freedom of expression in Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which are also enshrined in the constitution of the Islamic Republic of Iran.

Earlier this week the State Department also called for the release of an aid worker for a U.S.-based non-governmental organization. Silva Harotonian, an Iranian citizen of Armenian descent, was an administrative assistant with the International Research and Exchanges Board, or IREX, a humanitarian organization that facilitates professional exchanges.

She was arrested on June 26, 2008 on a business trip to Tehran for IREX's Maternal and Child Health Education and Exchange program. In January 2009 she was sentenced to 3 years in prison for allegedly plotting against the Iranian government.

U.S. State Department Deputy Spokesman Robert Wood said that claims that Ms. Harotonian was promoting a so-called velvet revolution in Iran are "baseless." He noted that she is reportedly "in poor and deteriorating health as a direct consequence of her confinement."

The United States joins the international community in urging the Islamic Republic of Iran's Ministry of Justice to uphold the legal provisions as embodied in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, of which Iran is a signatory.

Tuesday, 21 April 2009

AFP: Rights groups challenge Iran leader at racism meet

GENEVA (AFP) — Human rights groups on Sunday challenged President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to eliminate severe discrimination in Iran, ahead of his arrival at a UN conference against racism and intolerance in Geneva.

The International Federation of Human Rights (FIDH), the Baha'i International Community (BIC) and the Iranian League for Human Rights (LDDHI) said Ahmadinejad must tackle discrimination against religious and ethnic minorities, women, and halt incitement to hatred.

"By coming to the Durban Review Conference, President Ahmadinejad signals a commitment to the conference's goals of eliminating all forms of discrimination and intolerance," said Diane Ala'i, the BIC's representative at the UN in Geneva.

"His first move on returning home, then, should be to address the severe discrimination and persecution that have flourished under his tenure," she added.
Ahmadinejad is the most prominent head of state scheduled to address the opening of the UN review conference on Monday, which is being boycotted by the United States, Israel, Canada, Australia and the Netherlands.

His virulent anti-Israel statements and comments casting doubt on the Holocaust have prompted fears that his speech could overshadow the primary aim of the conference, to take stock of racial discrimination, xenophobia and intolerance around the world.

The rights groups said religious discrimination was widespread in Iran, notably affecting Baha'is, Christians, Jews, Sufis, Sunni Muslims, and other minorities, through arbitrary arrests, intimidation and harassment.

They also accused Iranian government-controlled media of fomenting hatred against Bahai's, and warned that repression against activists belonging to ethnic minorities including the Kurds was "rising dramatically".

"Human rights have sharply deteriorated in Iran under the presidency of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Discrimination against ethnic and religious minorities, as well as against women, are of grave concern," said Karim Lahidji of LDDHI.

The human rights groups called on governments taking part in the conference, as well as the media, to hold Ahmadinejad accountable for violations in Iran.

Rueters: Iran hangs three people over 2007 mosque bombing

TEHRAN, April 10 (Reuters) - Iran executed on Friday three people convicted of being involved in the bombing of a mosque which killed 14 Iranians in the southern city of Shiraz in 2007, the official IRNA news agency reported.

Tehran had accused the United States of arming and training those behind the blast and said Britain and Israel were involved in the bombing, which also injured 200 people.Washington and London deny Tehran's accusations.

IRNA said the three were sentenced to death in November. Their sentences were upheld by Iran's Supreme Court.A little-known Iranian Sunni Muslim dissident group had in June claimed responsibility for the blast. Under Iran's sharia law armed robbery, murder, adultery, drug smuggling and involvement in "terrorist acts" are punishable by death.

(Writing by Zahra Hosseinian; editing by Diana Abdallah)

AFP: Iran bars lecturer from leaving for Italy

TEHRAN (AFP) — Iran has prevented a prominent human rights lecturer charged with spying from leaving to take part in a conference in Italy about the Palestinians, the labour news agency ILNA reported on Monday.
"My client, who was an organiser and host of the event was due to travel to Florence on March 25. But he was informed that he was not allowed to leave the country," his lawyer Mohammad Sharif was quoted as saying.

University professor Mehdi Zakerian, 41, was arrested in July 2008 on charges of espionage, but ILNA did not say when he was released or give the circumstances.
Sharif said a revolutionary court held a hearing in the case in February but that no verdict had yet been issued, adding that the authorities have seized Zakerian's passport.
Zakerian is a board member of Iran's prestigious Centre for Scientific Research and Middle East Strategic Studies and heads its department of Israel studies.
In March last year, Iran barred feminist and journalist Parvin Ardalan from leaving the country to receive the 2007 Olof Palme Prize in Stockholm which she had been awarded for her campaign for equal rights for women in Iran. Queer Film Festival doco highlights Iranian transsexuals

By Fran Metcalf
April 02, 2009 12:00am

BEING an unmarried woman at the age of 25 was enough to attract the wrath of filmmaker Tanaz Eshaghian's traditional Iranian family.

It also triggered her curiosity: What would life be like for those Iranians who really rebelled against their society's strict social and traditional laws?
So began the making of her documentary, Be Like Others.

"I went to a private sex change clinic in Tehran and I spent time in the waiting room and met men who wanted to become women," says Eshaghian, who moved to New York when she was seven years old.

Homosexuality is still punishable by death in the Islamic Republic of Iran but sex-change operations are legal and many highly feminine men are opting for an identity that's legally allowed to them: transsexual.
Before and after
Eshaghian's film tracked the lives of some of these men, documenting their experiences before their gender reassignment surgery as well as one year afterwards.

"Most of the people I met were shunned by their families once they had the sex change," she says.

"I was intrigued with how a traditional society like Iran could comprehend these men because it involves a very different way of thinking.

"The notion that individuals have their own separate identity that deserves to exist is a very Western idea.

"In Iran, you are first and foremost seen as someone that's part of a family and that's much more important than who you are on your own."

Eshaghian's movie won the Teddy Jury Award at last year's Berlin International Film Festival and will be screened at the Queer Film Festival being held at the Brisbane Powerhouse from April 3-9.

It's the 10th anniversary of the annual festival which showcases more than 30 shorts, features and documentaries from around the country and the world, each sharing the theme of homosexuality.
We Are the Mods

Erin Cassidy's first feature film We Are the Mods, will have its Australian premiere at the festival.

Cassidy, who lives in Los Angeles but grew up in a small agricultural town in
central California, drew on her high school experiences to make the 91-minute feature.

It's a tale about high school loner, Sadie, who befriends the wild new girl, Nico.
Together, they explore sex, drugs and rock and roll by embracing 1960s British Mod culture in present-day California.

"I was into ska, I had a Vespa and the video I watched over and over was Quadrophenia," says Cassidy, 33.

Sadie, whom Cassidy bases on herself, becomes embroiled in a bisexual love triangle but ultimately discovers her first passion is photography.
"Coming out and dealing with my sexuality was difficult but, in doing so, it opened me up and it freed me from restrictions so I was able to find my real artistic passion in life," she says.

Queer Film Festival, April 3-9, Brisbane Powerhouse, single tickets $16. More info at, or 3358 8600.

Monday, 20 April 2009

amnesty: Two members of the Christian community in Iran were arrested by members of the security forces in Tehran

PUBLIC AI Index: MDE 13/030/2009
08 April 2009

UA 95/09 Prisoners of conscience/ Medical concern

IRAN Maryam Rostampour (f), aged 27 ] Iranian Christians
Marzieh Amirizadeh Esmaeilabad (f), aged 30 ]

Two members of the Christian community in Iran, Maryam Rostampour and Marzieh Amirizadeh Esmaeilabad were arrested on 5 March 2009 by members of the security forces in Tehran. In a telephone call on 28 March Marzieh Amirizadeh Esmaeilabad said that they are both suffering from an infection and high fever and have not received adequate medical attention. They remain detained without charge at Evin Prison in a overcrowded cell with 27 other women. Maryam Rostampour and Marzieh Amirizadeh Esmaeilabad may be prisoners of conscience, detained solely on account of their religious beliefs. Amnesty International is concerned for the women's health.

Maryam Rostampour and Marzieh Amirizadeh Esmaeilabad have been participating in religious gatherings and handing out Bibles. On 5 March, one of the two women was summoned to appear at the office of the Ministry of Intelligence from where she was taken to the apartment they both shared. They were then both arrested on 5 March by members of the security forces and their personal belongings, computers, books, including Bibles, were confiscated from their home. Maryam Rostampour and Marzieh Amirizadeh Esmaeilabad were interrogated and held in several police stations before appearing before Branch 2 of the Revolutionary Court in Tehran on 18 March. They were then taken to Evin Prison where they have remained since.

Maryam Rostampour and Marzieh Amirizadeh Esmaeilabad have not been afforded a lawyer. However they have been allowed to receive family visits once a week and to make a one-minute daily telephone call. The women's families were told that they would be released on a US$ 400,000 bail and that they are accused of “acting against state security” and “taking part in illegal gatherings. The families presented the title deeds of their homes. This however, has not yet been accepted by the judge handling the cases.

Although Christianity is a recognized religion in Iran, evangelical Christians, some of whom have converted from Islam, often face harassment by the authorities. Converts from Islam can risk arrest, attack or the death penalty. Conversion from Islam (apostasy) is considered as forbidden under Islamic Law, which requires apostates to be put to death if they refuse to reconvert to Islam. There is no specific provision in the Iranian Penal Code for apostasy, but judges are required to use their knowledge of Islamic Law to rule on cases where no specific legislation exists in the Penal Code.

A new version of the Iranian Penal Code is currently under consideration by the Majles (Parliament) and prescribes the death penalty for those considered to be apostates.

Article 23 of the Iranian Constitution states: “The investigation of individuals' beliefs is forbidden, and no one may be molested or taken to task simply for holding a certain belief.” Article 18 (1) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), to which Iran is a state party, states: “Everyone shall have the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion. This right shall include freedom to have or to adopt a religion or belief of his choice, and freedom, either individually or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in worship, observance, practice and teaching.”

RECOMMENDED ACTION: Please send appeals to arrive as quickly as possible, in Persian, Arabic, English, French or your own language:
- calling on the authorities to release Maryam Rostampour and Marzieh Amirizadeh Esmaeilabad immediately and unconditionally, if they have been arrested solely on account of their religious beliefs, or to promptly charge them with a recognizably criminal offence and try them is fair proceedings;
- calling for them to be granted immediate and unconditional access to a lawyer; and any medical treatment they require;
- urging the Iranian authorities to ensure that they are not being tortured or ill-treated while in detention.

Head of the Judiciary
Ayatollah Mahmoud Hashemi Shahroudi
Howzeh Riyasat-e Qoveh Qazaiyeh (Office of the Head of the Judiciary)
Pasteur St., Vali Asr Ave., south of Serah-e Jomhouri
Tehran 1316814737, Islamic Republic of Iran

Email: (In the subject line write: FAO Ayatollah Shahroudi)
Salutation: Your Excellency

Leader of the Islamic Republic
Ayatollah Sayed ‘Ali Khamenei, The Office of the Supreme Leader
Islamic Republic Street – End of Shahid Keshvar Doust Street, Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran
via website: (English)
Salutation: Your Excellency

Director, Human Rights Headquarters of Iran
Mohammad Javad Larijani
Howzeh Riyasat-e Qoveh Qazaiyeh / Office of the Head of the Judiciary
Pasteur St, Vali Asr Ave., south of Serah-e Jomhuri
Tehran 1316814737, Iran

Fax: +98 21 3390 4986 (please keep trying)
Email: (In the subject line write: FAO Javad Larijani)
Salutation: Dear Mr Larijani

and to diplomatic representatives of Iran accredited to your country.

Friday, 17 April 2009

IMHRO Appeal to International Criminal Court to investigate war crimes by Ayatollah Sayed Ali Khamenei Supreme Leader of Iran

Iranian Minorities’ Human Rights Organisation (IMHRO)

Dear Hon Judge Philippe KIRSCH
President of International Criminal Court
Po Box 195192500 CM,

The HagueThe Netherlands



IMHRO is supporting the International Criminal Court for the arrest warrant for Omar Hassan Ahmad Al Bashir, president of Sudan on charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity in Darfur. IMHRO believes that this will be a great step forward for justice in the world.

IMHRO also wants to draw your attention to the situation of ethnic minorities in Iran: Baluches, Kurds, Arabs, Turks and Turkmen, who have been suppressed for many years by the Islamic regime of Iran.

Sir, minorities in Iran are suffering a silent holocaust - they are facing the destruction of their culture, identity, natural resources and mass executions at the hands of the Islamic regime in Iran.

We ask the International Criminal Court to investigate war crimes and crimes against humanity under the rule of Ayatollah Sayed Ali Khamenei, supreme leader of Iran, toward minorities in Iran and we also ask the Hon. International Criminal Court to monitor this case.

IMHRO would be happy to assist you with your investigation and monitoring.

Yours sincerely,

Reza Washahi
IMHRO Director

Saturday, 11 April 2009

Aljazeera Video Report: Iran mulls death penalty for offensive blogs

The Christian Post: Young Iranian Christians Held in Notorious Prison Without Charge

By Ethan Cole
Christian Post Reporter

Two young Iranian Christian women have been held for weeks now in the notorious Elvin Prison without charge.

Roommates Marzieh Amirizadeh Esmaeilabad, 30, and Maryam Rustampoor, 27, were arrested March 5 by Iranian security forces who accused them of being “anti-government activists,” reported Farsi Christian News Network (FCNN), which recently received news about their detainment.

All their personal belongings were confiscated during the arrest, and they were hand-cuffed and taken first to a police station in Gysha, west of Tehran for interrogation. They were later taken to Vozara Detention Center, then to a National Security Section of the Revolutionary Court.

After several sessions of interrogation, they appeared in the Revolutionary Court on March 18, after which they were sent to Elvin Prison where they are being held without charge.

According to reports received by FCNN, the two young women are innocent and their only “crime” is being practicing Christians. The incident highlights the Iranian government’s growing hostility towards followers of Jesus Christ.
Last year, there were more than 50 known cases of arrests and imprisonment of Christians in Iran. There were also some known cases of torture.
Each day, the women are allowed only a one-minute phone call to their immediate families.

During their last call on March 28, Esmaeilabad said she is suffering from an infection and high fever, according to FCNN's March 29 report.
She also said, "I am dying."

Both women are sick and need urgent medical attention, according to reports.

The Iranian court has ruled that the women could be freed on a bail of $400,000, but the “excessive” bail is unrealistic and is designed to make the release impossible, noted that Christian news network.

Moreover, the women’s families have been repeatedly told the judge is not available to discuss their case.

“Iranian Christian leaders from around the world are calling for the immediate and unconditional release of Marzieh and Maryam,” FCNN stated. “We ask world governments to put pressure on Iran to ensure freedom of religion.”

Prayers are also being requested for the two young Christian women’s safe release.

AFP: China, Iran censor web: rights group

WASHINGTON (AFP) — China's "sophisticated and multi-layered" efforts to censor and control the Internet earned it a "not free" rating by a US rights group in a report released Wednesday.

Freedom House, which examined web freedom issues in 15 countries, listed Cuba, Iran and Tunisia as three other nations it considered "not free" due to government control of online activity.

Seven countries studied -- Egypt, India, Georgia, Kenya, Malaysia, Russia and Turkey -- were considered "partly free" while four others -- Brazil, Britain, Estonia and South Africa -- were labeled "free."

Freedom House, which monitors political rights and civil liberties around the globe, said the rights of Internet users were increasingly at risk as governments expanded their ability to control online activity.

"More than a billion people look to the Internet and mobile phones to provide a new freedom frontier, where they can exercise their right to freedom of expression without repercussion," Freedom House executive director Jennifer Windsor said in a statement. "But as access grows, more governments are employing diverse and sophisticated methods to monitor, censor and punish Internet users."

In its report, "Freedom on the Net," to be formally released later Wednesday at a conference of bloggers in Berlin, Freedom House evaluated the 15 countries based on barriers to Internet access, limitations on content and violations of users' rights.

The Washington-based group said Cuba received the lowest score in the study.
"Cuba is one of the world's most repressive environments for Internet freedom, despite a slight relaxation of restrictions on computer and mobile phone sales in 2008," it said.

"There is almost no access to Internet applications other than e-mail and surveillance is extensive. Cuba is one of the few countries with laws and regulations explicitly restricting and outlawing certain online activities."
Freedom House also said that China and Cuba were tied for curbing the most users' rights.
China has the world's most Internet users, an estimated 300 million, but "also has the world's most highly-developed censorship apparatus," it said.
The report cited "sophisticated and multilayered system" used by Chinese authorities to censor, monitor and control Internet and mobile telephone activities.

It also mentioned the "hundreds of thousands" of people authorities and private providers employ to "monitor, censor and manipulate online content."
But "due to the egalitarian nature and technical flexibility of the Internet, the online environment remains more free than traditional media," Freedom House said.

Iran, the report said, "uses a complex system of nationwide content filtering, intimidation, detention and torture of bloggers, and restriction of broadband access to subvert freedom of expression online."

Freedom House was created in 1941 by Eleanor Roosevelt, wife of then US president Franklin Roosevelt, among others. It receives funding from the US government and private organizations.

Canada's Parliament condemns persecution of Baha'is in Iran

"Whereas, the House of Commons recognizes that on 14 May 2008, six members of an informal group known as the Friends in Iran that oversee the needs of the Baha'i community in Iran were arrested and taken to the political prisoners section of Evin prison in Tehran, where the seventh member was already being held, following her arrest in Mashhad in March 2008.

"And whereas, the United Nations Commission on Human Rights in October 2005, uncovered a confidential letter from the Command headquarters of the Armed Forces of Iran ordering the identification and monitoring of all Baha'is and their activities.

"And whereas, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief stated on March 20, 2006, that she 'also expresses her concern that the information gathered as a result of such monitoring will be used as a basis for the increased persecution of and discrimination against, members of the Baha'i Faith, in violation of international standards ... The Special Rapporteur is concerned that his latest development indicates that the situation with regard to religious minorities in Iran is, in fact, deteriorating.'

"And whereas, the Baha'i community of Canada is gravely concerned for the safety of these seven Baha'is, who have been held without formal charges, access to legal counsel or evidence brought against them, and being subjected to harsh treatment and interrogation with very restricted visits from family members for more than nine months."And whereas, Nobel Laureate Shirin Ebadi - who announced her intention to defend the Baha'is in court - has since been harassed and her offices have been closed.

"And whereas, the Deputy Prosecutor General has announced that these prisoners will be tried by the Revolutionary court on charges of 'espionage on behalf of Israel', 'insult to the sacredness (of Islam)' and 'propaganda against the regime' - all of which are capital offences.
"And whereas, such charges are frequently used by Iranian authorities to target human rights defenders and religious minorities and there is nothing in the history or teachings of the Baha'i community to lend any credence to such charges.

"And whereas, these arrests have taken place in the context of an upsurge of arbitrary arrests, raids on home, expulsion of university students, harassment of school children, destruction of graveyards, virulent attacks in government controlled media.

"Therefore, be it resolved that this House condemns the ongoing persecution of the Baha'i minority of Iran and calls upon the government of Iran to reconsider its charges against the members of the Friends in Iran, and release them immediately or failing this, that it proceed to trial without further delay, ensuring that the proceedings are open and fair and are conducted in the presence of international observers."

BBC: Iran accuses journalist of spying

An Iranian-American journalist detained in Iran since January has been accused of spying by Iranian prosecutors.

Roxana Saberi, who is being held in Evin prison in Tehran, will appear in court next week, her lawyer said. US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said she was "deeply concerned" about the news.

Ms Saberi originally faced the less serious accusations of buying alcohol, then working as a journalist without a valid press card.
Her parents arrived in Tehran at the weekend and were allowed to see her for 20 minutes. According to the lawyer, they found her in good health and good spirits.
The journalist, 31, worked briefly for the BBC three years ago. She has also worked for the American public radio network NPR and the TV network Fox News.
A number of UK and US media outlets, including the BBC, have called on Iran to allow independent access to her.

Mrs Clinton has appealed for her release on more than one occasion.
Her lawyer, Abdolsamad Khorramshahi, said he could not comment on the accusation of spying as he had not been allowed to see the legal papers.

VOA: Women's Rights In Iran

In Iran, women vote, are members of the parliament, and make up more than 60 percent of university students. Some observers say that Iranian women are in pretty good shape in terms of women's rights – particularly in contrast to other women in the Middle East.
But Iranian human rights activist Roya Boroumand points out that thirty years ago, Iranian women were already active members of their society. Now, she says, Iranian women suffer under repressive laws: "They are discriminated against in marriage, divorce, education, custody of the children, inheritance, in all aspects of their daily life, and this prevents their progress."Iranian women have been fighting back – peacefully.

One way is through the Campaign for Equality, a grass roots petition drive that educates Iranian women about their legal status. It is working to collect one million signatures advocating changing discriminatory laws. The government has responded harshly: campaign members have been beaten, imprisoned, fined, lashed.

Websites supporting the campaign have been blocked.Roya Boroumand says the regime has been so harsh because campaign activists have been effective. For one thing, they reach out to women across the country, and do not confine their activity to the intellectual elites in Tehran: "The government reacts to any activity that is effective and organized and echoes a message that it doesn't agree with, and women's activities are being attacked for the same reason."The U.S. supports the peaceful, courageous efforts of Iranian women to secure their rights.

As Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton says, "When women are afforded their basic rights, they flourish. And so do their children, families, communities, and nations."

Wednesday, 8 April 2009

amnesty: Two members of the Baha’i community, arrested after being summoned to appear at the Ministry of Intelligence’s offices in the city of Shiraz

PUBLIC AI Index: MDE 13/023/2009
27 March 2009

UA 84/09

Arbitrary arrests/ prisoners of conscience


Haleh Houshmandi-Salehi (f) ] members of the Baha’i community
Farham (also known as Hadi) Masoumi (m) ]

Two members of the Baha’i community, Haleh Houshmandi-Salehi and Farham Masoumi were arrested after being summoned to appear on 18 March at the Ministry of Intelligence’s offices in the city of Shiraz, in Fars Province, south western Iran. Based on the information available, Amnesty International believes they are prisoners of conscience, detained solely because of their religious beliefs or their peaceful activities on behalf of the Baha’i community.

Farham Masoumi was arrested and released a few hours later on 15 March, following a search of his house. He was detained for a second time on 18 March when he was summoned to appear at the detention facility run by the Ministry of Intelligence in Shiraz.

Haleh Houshmandi-Salehi and her husband Mr Houshmandi were away from Shiraz on 15 March when their home was raided by officers from the Ministry of Intelligence. Haleh Houshmandi-Salehi’s mother was threatened and forced to hand over the house keys by officers who confiscated all the family’s books, CDs, computer and other personal items, including some of their child’s belongings. The officers also had an arrest warrant for Haleh Houshmandi-Salehi who was not present at the time. On 17 March, she received a telephone call in which she was summoned to appear the next day at the detention facility run by the Ministry of Intelligence in Shiraz. She was arrested when she went there on 18 March.

When Haleh Houshmandi-Salehi’s husband asked officials at the detention facility about the reason for his wife's arrest, he was informed that she and Farham Masoumi were arrested because of their involvement in “illegal activities”. When he contacted the local Information Office of the Ministry of Intelligence he was told: “Your wife is a Baha’i, and for now that is sufficient reason for her arrest”.

Haleh Houshmandi-Salehi was amongst a group of more than 53 individuals, mostly Baha’i, involved in a programme teaching underprivileged children in the city of Shiraz. They were arrested in May 2006 even though the authorities had granted permission for their activities and later released. In August 2007, all 53 were tried by Branch 1 of the Revolutionary Court in Shiraz. They were charged with offences relating to state security. Fourteen who attended the court sessions were told orally of the verdict against the whole group. Three were each sentenced to three years’ imprisonment for “organizing illegal groups” and to an additional one year’s imprisonment for “propaganda on behalf of groups that are opposed to the Islamic system”. The other 50, including Haleh Houshmandi-Salehi, were sentenced to suspended prison sentences of four months for “participating in an illegal group” and a further eight months for “propaganda on behalf of groups that are opposed to the Islamic system”. All those involved have appealed against their convictions and sentences (see UA 25/08, MDE 13/017/2008, 25 January 2008).

The Baha’i faith was founded about 150 years ago in Iran and has since spread around the world. Since the establishment of the Islamic Republic of Iran in 1979, the Baha’i community has been systematically harassed and persecuted. There are over 300,000 Baha’is currently in Iran, but their religion is not recognized under the Iranian Constitution, which only recognizes Islam, Christianity, Judaism and Zoroastrianism. Baha’is in Iran are subject to discriminatory laws and regulations which violate their right to practise their religion freely, as set out in Article 18(1) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Iran is a state party. The Iranian authorities also deny Baha’is equal rights to education, to work and to a decent standard of living by restricting their access to employment and benefits such as pensions. They are not permitted to meet, to hold religious ceremonies or to practise their religion communally. Since President Ahmadinejad was elected in 2005, dozens of Baha’is have been arrested.

Members of the Baha’i community in Iran profess their allegiance to the state and deny that they are involved in any subversive acts against the government, which they state would be against their religion. The Baha’i International Community, which describes itself as an international non-governmental organization with affiliates in over 180 countries and territories, together representing over 5 million members of the Bahá’í Faith, believes that the allegations of espionage for Israel which have over the years been made against the community in Iran stem solely from the fact that the Baha’i World Centre is in Israel.


Please send appeals to arrive as quickly as possible, in Persian, Arabic, English or your own language:

- calling for the immediate and unconditional release of Haleh Houshmandi-Salehi and Farham Masoumi as they appear to be detained solely because of their beliefs or peaceful activities on behalf of the Baha’i community;
- otherwise calling for their release unless they are charged with a recognizably criminal offence and brought to trial promptly and fairly;
- urging the Iranian authorities to ensure that they are not subjected to torture or other ill-treatment;
- urging the authorities to ensure that they are given immediate and regular access to their relatives and lawyers of their choice, and to any medical treatment they may require.


Head of the Judiciary
Ayatollah Mahmoud Hashemi Shahroudi
Howzeh Riyasat-e Qoveh Qazaiyeh (Office of the Head of the Judiciary)
Pasteur St., Vali Asr Ave., south of Serah-e Jomhouri, Tehran 1316814737, Islamic Republic of Iran
Email: (In the subject line write: FAO Ayatollah Shahroudi)
Salutation: Your Excellency

Leader of the Islamic Republic
Ayatollah Sayed ‘Ali Khamenei, The Office of the Supreme Leader
Islamic Republic Street – End of Shahid Keshvar Doust Street, Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran
via website: (English)
Salutation: Your Excellency

Head of Judiciary, Fars Province
Mr Siyavoshpour
Fars Province Judiciary
Karim Khan Zand Street
Shohada Square, Shiraz, Islamic Republic of Iran

His Excellency Mahmoud Ahmadinejad
The Presidency, Palestine Avenue, Azerbaijan Intersection, Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran
Fax: + 98 21 6 649 5880
Email: via website:

and to diplomatic representatives of Iran accredited to your country.

PLEASE SEND APPEALS IMMEDIATELY. Check with the International Secretariat, or your section office, if sending appeals after 8 May 2009.

Monday, 6 April 2009

IMHRO condemning closing down of Assyrian Christian church by Revolutionary court order

Iranian Minorities’ Human Rights Organisation (IMHRO)



The Pentecostal church of Shahr Ara, which belongs to Assyrian Christians in the city of Tehran, has been closed by order of the revolutionary courts
[i]. The vicar, Mr. Victor, was forced to deliver the message of the churches closure to worshipers and church leaders were forced to prevent converted Muslims from attending services.

According to reports the main reason for this closure was stated as “illegal activities of this church with regard to converting Muslims into Christianity or accepting converts to worship.”

Reza Washahi a researcher on minorities in Iran told IMRO “In Iran conversion from Islam to Christianity is illegal and punishable with the death penalty and the charge of apostasy. Those who are not killed based on international campaigns always face death threats and the prospect of losing jobs and discrimination from society.”

“Often the Iranian government charges Christians with other offences such as drug smuggling, wine selling and acting against national security. They very rarely charge the person with apostasy directly so as to avoid international pressure” he added.

In recent years pressure on Christians in Iran has increased. President Ahmadi Nejad openly warned the evangelical movement of Iran with severe punishment. In 2008 a man reportedly a member of an Assembly of God church in north of Iran was secretly stoned to death.

IMHRO condemns the Iranian government’s treatment of its Christian citizens and wishes to remind the Iranian government of its obligation to fulfil its duty as a signatory to the Universal Declaration on Human Rights (UDHR) and also the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), which guarantees the freedom of religion.

Back ground

The first post Islamic Revolution Iranian Christian murder was Rev. Arastoo Sayah martyred in February 1979

Hussein Soodmand of Mashad who was converted to Christianity was executed by hanging in 1990[iii].

Mehdi Dibaj was an Iranian
Christian convert from Sunni Islam, finally tried by an Islamic court in Sari on December 3, 1993 and sentenced to death on charges of apostasy. Following a worldwide outcry initiated by his friend and colleague Bishop Haik Hovsepian Mehr, Dibaj was finally freed in January 1994, although the death sentence was not lifted. Just three days later Bishop Haik Hovsepian Mehr was abducted and murdered. Dibaj was abducted on Friday, June 24, 1994. His body was found in a west Tehran park on Tuesday, July 5, 1994[iv].

On Jul 4, 1994 (Open Doors), a Christian human rights group, reported that Tateos Michaelian, an Iranian Presbyterian preacher who was acting chairman of the Council of Protestant Ministers in Iran, was murdered and accused the Iranian government of being responsible. Iran denies the charges. The group also reported that 2 other protestant preachers, whom it did not identify, had been detained and that Iranian Christians who had returned home after living in the US had disappeared on their return to Iran

In 2005 a lay-minister Ghorban Dordi Tourani also called Ghorban Tori was murdered and his case was never investigated.


Please write to one of the following and express your concern regard of Christian in Iran.

Secretary General United Nations

The Honourable Ban Ki-moon

United Nations Headquarters,
Room S-3800, New York,
NY 10017,USA

Supreme Leader of Iran

Ayatollah Sayed ‘Ali Khamenei,
The Office of the Supreme Leader
Islamic Republic Street - Shahid Keshvar Doust Street
Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran
E-mail via web site

United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights

Ms. Navanethem (Navi) Pillay
Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights,

Palais des Nations, CH-1211 Geneva 10,

Iranian President
Mahmoud Ahmadi Nejad
The Presidency
Palestine Avenue, Azerbaijan Intersection
Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran
E-mail via web site

European Parliament Human Rights Committee
Bureau d'Hélène Flautre au Parlement Européen,

8G130, rue Wierz,
B-1049, Bruxelles,

Head of the Judiciary

Ayatollah Mahmud Hashemi Shahroudi
Howzeh Riyasat-e Qoveh Qazaiyeh / Office of the Head of the Judiciary
Pasteur St, Vali Asr Ave
South of Serah-e Jomhouri,
Tehran 1316814737, Islamic Republic of Iran






Friday, 3 April 2009

FPA: Imprisoned Iranian journalist Mohammad Sadegh Kaboudvand named International Journalist of the Year at British Press Awards 2009

The President of the Foreign Press Association in London Nazenin Ansari accepted the Award on behalf of her fellow countryman and journalist at the British Press Awards at London's Grosvenor Hotel last night. Sadegh is the former editor of Payam-e mardom-e Kurdestan, a weekly closed by the authorities in Iran. He is currently serving a 10 year prison sentence for his writings, and is in poor health and in urgent need of medical care. Nazenin Ansari told the audience at the Awards dinner that we had received a statement from Sadegh, who was at that moment in Evin prison in Tehran, and she read out 3 paragraphs from it. The full statement translated into English from its original Farsi, is below.

The British Press Awards
Statement from Mohammad Sadegh Kaboudvand:After saluting you with my warmest of greetings, I would like to start by offering my sincere thanks and gratitude to the ‘British Press Awards’ and everyone associated with it for making it their business to stand up and speak for all the suffering writers and journalists around the globe.
I am particularly grateful for having been chosen for this award and it is my hope that the noble efforts of this institution will also serve as a serious reminder to everyone of the plight of journalists and writers in all closed societies and in particular, the despotic Middle East region.
In this part of the world, journalists are pursued, harassed, arrested and imprisoned for merely being true to their profession by seeking to reflect the truth or urging their rulers to simply respect the dignity and god given human rights of their citizens.
As reflected and underlined in the various covenants pertaining to human rights, all human beings are entitled to be respected for their freedom of thought, speech and expression. Moreover, all human beings must be allowed to speak and write freely about their ethical and religious beliefs, political philosophy, rights or any other subject. It follows therefore, that no one should be persecuted for their thoughts or their beliefs or to have their individual liberties and social existence placed in jeopardy as a consequence of those beliefs.
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights is clearly explicit that freedom of conscious, thought and expression must be guaranteed for all individuals and that no one should ever have cause for fear as a consequence of their thoughts sand ideas. Moreover, it is also explicit in stating that every individual must be free to receive and send information using every device available irrespective of national boundaries.
These freedoms should in no circumstances, even in periods of emergency or crisis ever become limited in scope or suspended. Also, no government should ever resort to forcing its citizens to abandon their own thoughts and beliefs in favour of the kind of political or religious thoughts that are espoused and prescribed by the state.
But in the land where we Iranian citizens live, no one can benefit from these rights or any other right or freedoms which have been prescribed in various international human rights covenants and declarations. In our land, no one is free to express their true beliefs but rather one is forced to think and reflect along the lines which the state has “ordained” for us. Individual thoughts and expressions are allowed only when they coincide with the official view points. Consequently people are forced into wanting what the state wants.
Should anyone at anytime, think or say something that is in conflict with the wishes of the state, then that person is seriously confronted – arrested, confined, imprisoned or even charged as an apostate for which the penalty is execution.
At a time when notions like liberty and freedom of conscience are directly connected to any individual’s social and political settings, and when the unique thoughts and beliefs of any human being which are confined within his own person, can only be seen and felt through an outward expression such as speech, the leaders of our land claim that people are entitled to their thoughts and beliefs so long as they do not express them in public.
The state in charge of our country has clearly been a major impediment to freedom of thought and expression as well as the dissemination of information amongst people. Not only has it been responsible for the closure of numerous newspapers and journals and other means of public discourse – but it also boastfully claims to have closed more than 5 million websites.
In the land Iranians live, people are not only prevented from expressing their thoughts and opinions but they are further barred from being free to wear, listen or see as we please. Their competence and judgement in identifying their various personal choices, is constantly questioned by the state. In simple terms, our people are incapable of wearing, hearing, listening or saying what it is they wish to wear, listen, hear or say.
The most personal of relations between individuals in our land is closely scrutinized under a microscope, and even the refuge of one’s own home is under the watchful eye of the government and the ruling establishment. Hence, no sector of any individuals’ personal life is safe and people are not allowed to challenge or criticize any aspect of this behaviour. Any criticism or challenge is forcefully dealt with and all critics or individuals who object are pursued, harassed, arrested and severely punished. Here, any protest or gathering, even gatherings of no more a few people, is labelled as an act against the state which can then be punished by imprisonment and execution.
In our land, people are denied freedom of participation and the right of self determination. They have no choice but to accept the choices that are made for them by the state or (‘big brother’). The ruling establishment make lofty speeches about the rights of the people of Palestine and Lebanon at a time when they show the least amount of respect for the various rights of their own people.
More than half the population, consisting of various national and ethnic minorities, are devoid of any right for the expression of their own identity, culture or language, and are also prevented from having any say in the running of the country or their own regions. Naturally, they suffer from prejudice, inequality and injustice.
Fifteen percent of the population, comprised of Kurds, face a situation in which their whole identity and existence has become threatened, and individuals are severely punished whenever they speak for their trampled rights, even though they are one of the three co-founding people of our great nation.
The ruling establishment speak in support of religious minorities in other places when they, themselves, brutally suppress all religious minorities and specially the Sunni Moslems who constitute more than a quarter of our country’s population. Indeed, the Sunnis are banned from celebrating any of their religious festivities or observing any of their rituals.
The ruling establishment have loudly criticized matters pertaining to the kind of limitations that have been placed on the observance Islamic dress code for women in other countries, and the various segments of the country’s mass media have been mobilized and devoted to supporting their positions over these issues. Yet within Iran, members of the security forces patrol every street corner in search of women whom they chastise, punish or arrest and imprison on charges of wearing the clothes which they have chosen to wear.
Iranian women who comprise half of the country’s population are confronted with serious discrimination which encompasses a wide range of areas from gender, social and cultural to simple secular law. Indeed, ‘male oriented laws’ that are based on traditional religious beliefs and values have institutionalized discrimination against women within society and consequently ignored their legal and civil rights.
In this land the ruling establishment speaks boldly of progress and improvement when according to every government statistic more than half of the people inhabiting this land are struggling below the poverty line and where millions of workers and wage earners based on the latest figures are earning figures equivalent to a fifth of the nationally defined rate for the poverty line, while millions of others around the country are living in huts and in conditions where poverty and deprivation is written over their faces.
While the ruling establishment speaks of health and vitality in people’s lives, half of our population and in particular significant number of our youth have been struck and burned by the evil of drugs and drug addiction. Again, while our rulers speak of a virtuous, moral society that is governed by rules and ethics, it is somewhat daunting that thousands of women must rely on selling themselves and prostitution for their daily needs. Indeed, in their quest for survival, many poverty stricken families have even resorted to selling their female offspring in a number of Arab sheikhdoms in the region.
Finally, at a time when the ruling establishment comments daily on subjects such as justice and fair play, it is mind boggling that a small number of people with special connection to powerful and rich circles have accumulated vast wealth and riches at the expense of destroying opportunities for millions of ordinary citizens, while others having resorted to nepotism and uncontrolled levels of bribery and corruption, have obtained similar positions of great advantage at the cost of bringing ruin and hopelessness to society at large.
Today, in our land no journalist, no critic of the regime or no human rights activist is able to pursue any of the issues pertaining to the kind of gross violations of basic human rights which I have briefly mentioned in my remarks. There is no question that whenever, in such circumstances, any one should dare to openly discuss issues such as justice in its true sense, human rights, democracy, basic freedoms and other popular demands, that their path will inevitably lead to ultimate arrest and imprisonment. It is possible to suggest that these are issues that can best be dealt with by political parties. But what are we to do in the absence of such free and independent institutions in our country?
In the end, I would like to once again express my thanks and gratitude to the British Press Awards and to convey my sincere respect and appreciation for the care and attention which they, as well as the International Campaign for Human Rights who have coordinated their activities with the Organization for the Defense of Human Rights in Kurdistan, have placed and continue to place in support of journalists such as myself.
Mohammad Sadegh Kaboudvand
Tehran, Evin Prison
25 March 2009
Helena O'Neill

Thursday, 2 April 2009

Christian Today: Three Iranians imprisoned for spreading Gospel

Three Christians in Iran have been found guilty of propagating the Gospel and “cooperation with anti-government movements”.

Seyed Allaedin Hussein, Homayoon Shokouhi, and Seyed Amir Hussein Bob-Annari had their verdict issued on 10 March, after being in and out of court since May last year.

The three were arrested at Shiraz airport on their way to a Christian conference in Dubai. Their families managed to escape charges by posting a bond with the government, according to the Farsi Christian News Network (FCNN).

The judge of the Shiraz revolutionary court sentenced the three men to eight months suspended prison sentence and five years on probation.

One of the charges brought against the men was “cooperating with anti-government movements”. According to FCNN, these “movements” were the Christian TV stations Love Television and Salvation TV.

Passing their sentence, the judge warned that if any of the men were discovered spreading the Gospel again their suspended sentence would be enforced and they would be arrested and tried for apostasy.