IRAN – Iran Continues to Persecute Christian Converts With Arrests, Prison Sentences and Financial Penalty

Iran HRM | July 6, 2020

At least 12 Iranian Christian coverts have been arrested by the intelligence agents of the Revolutionary Guards Corps in coordinated arrests across across three cities.

The arrests took place on Tuesday and Wednesday in Tehran, Karaj, and Malayer.

Several other Christians were sentenced prison and financial penalty in the past week.

Ten masked agents on Tuesday raided the home of a Christian convert, where around 30 Christians had gathered in Yaftabad district, in the southwest of the capital. They separated men from women and filmed their operation. Later they turned the cameras off, and started to beat some of the Christians.

The agents confiscated the books and phones of the 30 Christians and compelled them to sign a paper indicating that they were not mistreated.

The Christians were also ordered to write down that their properties had been confiscated.

Six people were arrested and taken to an unknown location while being handcuffed and blindfolded. They include Armenian-Iranian Christian Joseph Shahbazian, and five Iranian Christian converts Reza N, Salar A, Sonia, and elderly sisters Mina and Maryam

The agents drove the six arrested Christians to their homes in Tehran and Karaj to carry out searches of their properties, looking especially for Bibles, other Christian literature and communications devices.

According to witnesses, some of the Christians and their non-Christian family members were beaten.

The agents later went to the homes of three other Christian converts, Farhad M, Arash R, and Farhad Kh, and arrested them.
Meanwhile, on Wednesday, three Christian converts were briefly arrested in the western city of Malayer. The three men, Sohrab, Ebrahim and Yasser were released the next day after posting bail of 30 million tomans (around $1,500) each.

In another development, a Revolutionary Court in southern Iran sentenced seven Iranian Christian converts to prison, exile, a financial penalty, and a ban on work and social activities.

The Iranian Christian coverts are Habib Heidari, Sam Khosravi, Sasan Khosravi, Maryam Fallahi, Marjan Fallahi, Pouria Pima and Fatemeh Talebi.

The seven men and women were sentenced by a Revolutionary Court in Bushehr on June 21 for “spreading propaganda against the state”.
The “evidence” brought against them for their conviction was the possession of Christian books and symbols, holding home church sessions, and being in contact with Iranian “evangelists” abroad.

Sam and Sasan Khosravi were each sentenced to one year of prison, and a two-year ban on living in Bushehr Province. The two Iranian Christian converts were also banned from working in residential centers, their current occupation, for two years.

Maryam Fallahi was fined 80 million rials (around $388) for converting to Christianity and was permanently barred from working in public services. If the sentence is finalized, Maryam will be forced to leave her nursing job of 20 years at a hospital in Bushehr due to her religious beliefs.

Habib Heidari was also sentenced to one year of prison, while Puria Peima was sentenced to 91 days of prison. Fatemeh Talebi was sentenced to a 40 million rial fine (around $200) while Marjan Falahi was sentenced to a 60 million rial fine (around $300).

They have 20 days to appeal the sentence.

The Iranian Christian converts were detained by the Bushehr Intelligence Agency on July 1, 2019. They were kept in solitary confinement without any access to their lawyers and were forced to make “confessions” in front of cameras.

At the time of their arrest, security forces raided their homes at 9 am, confiscating their books, pamphlets, and personal belongings such as laptops, smartphones, IDs, and credit cards. They checked the offices of at least two of the Iranian Christians, taking with them computer hard drives and CCTV footage.

They were temporary released after two weeks on a 200 million toman bail (around $ 9,709).
The Iranian Christians were previously convicted of “acting against national security” and “membership in opposition groups” but were later acquitted from these charges.