Iran: Christians in prison

Iranian Christians have requested our prayers following several significant changes in the situation of those detained in Iranian prisons for their faith in Jesus.

Typically, those arrested for their faith in Jesus are charged with crimes against national security. However, on 3rd August a leader within the “Church of Iran” denomination, Abdolreza (Matthias) Haghnejad, was charged with “Moharebeh”- enmity against God – a crime that can carry the death sentence.

Recall that Abdolreza was arrested on 5th July in conjunction with a number of other leaders from the same denomination. Security officials raided his home in Rasht and confiscated Christian materials, including Bibles.

On 23rd July Mehdi Ameruni, another member of the “Church of Iran” denomination, was called to serve his three year prison sentence in Adel-Abad prison, Shiraz.

Recall that on 12th October 2012 seven believers were arrested in a raid on a prayer meeting in Shiraz. Mehdi Ameruni was among them. Although they were released from detention on 19th March 2013, they were then tried on 16th July 2013. Mehdi was sentenced to three years in prison. He remained at liberty pending an appeal which was later rejected.

Fatemeh Torkkajouri, wife of Behrouz Sadegh-Khandjani, a “Church of Iran” leader, has been summoned to appear before a court in Iran. They are resident abroad, but security officials are putting pressure on her family still in the country to see that she attends a court hearing in Iran.

Prisoners not only face hardships from guards and other state officials, but are also exposed to threats from fellow prisoners. Saeed Abedini in Rajai Shahr Prison, serving an eight year sentence for Christian activities has said that other prisoners have told him that radical islamists in the same prison plan to kill him. During exercise times, when there would be opportunity for them to harm him, Saeed has decided to stay in his cell.

Recently a number of prisoners have been relocated to different prisons or different wards within the same prison. Farshid Fathi, for example, has been moved from the notorious Evin Prison in Tehran to Rajai Shahr Prison in Karaj. Farshid is serving a six year sentence for offences against national security. Saeed and Farshid are now being held in the same facility. However, Christian prisoners in Rajai Shahr and other prisons complain that they are being kept apart from one another.

There is concern about the recent emigration of Christians from Iran, some in leadership positions. In recent weeks MEC has been notified of several families who have left the country because of the dangers they face inside Iran.

Iranian Christians request our prayers that:

a) The charge of “Moharebeh”- enmity against God – against Abdolreza would be overturned
b) Abdolreza, Mehdi, Saeed and Fathi (and all other Christian detainees in Iran) will know the Lord’s presence and support
c) Saeed will know special protection against the threats of extremists in the same prison
d) Prisoners will have opportunities for fellowship and to encourage one another
e) Families of prisoners will know God’s grace, strengthening and support
f) Iranian Christian families will have clarity when faced with the dilemma of whether to emigrate
g) All prisoners in Iran will be treated with respect and dignity, as beings created in the image of God
h) All officials involved will love mercy, act justly, learn about Jesus and choose to follow Him

Source: Middle East Concern

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