Religious persecution and issues – Monthly digest February



‘When I became a Christian, I was beaten and kicked out of the house’

Article 18 (22.02.2023) – Parsa’s story is different from a lot of other Iranian Christians who have experienced persecution.

For most, the primary source of persecution is the state, but in Parsa’s case, although he was also pressured by the security forces, the main point of pressure came from his family.

Parsa converted to Christianity at the age of 21, and this proved very difficult to accept for his family, who were devout Muslims.

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Second convert released as part of Islamic Republic anniversary celebrations

Article 18 (20.02.2023) – A second convert serving a long prison sentence for being part of a house-church has been released as part of a wider amnesty of prisoners on the occasion of the 44th anniversary of the Islamic Republic.

Hadi Rahimi, known as Moslem, was released last Wednesday, after spending more than a year in prison for “acting against national security” by “spreading ‘Zionist’ Christianity”.

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Rights violations against Christians in the year of the new revolution

Article 18 (19.02.2023) – Article18 today releases its fifth joint annual report on “Rights Violations against Christians in Iran”, with partner organisations CSW, Middle East Concern, and Open Doors International.

The 25-page report is released on 19 February to coincide with the 44th anniversary of the murder of Rev Arastoo Sayyah, the first Christian killed for their faith in the Islamic Republic of Iran – just eight days after its inception.

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Iran: “Christians are constantly watched as spies”

Bitter Winter (10.02.2023) – Forced to flee Tehran in 2010 because of her faith, this Assyrian Christian lady is now a pastor in a German-speaking Protestant community in Switzerland. She is a tireless campaigner for religious freedom in Iran, having been the voice of the voiceless at the United Nations, in her meeting with the US President, and at American think tanks.

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#Place2Worship campaigner released after nearly five years in prison

Article 18 (09.02.2023) – An Iranian convert jailed for “acting against national security by organising house-churches and promoting ‘Zionist’ Christianity” has been “pardoned” after nearly five years in Tehran’s Evin Prison.

Zaman Fadaie, who is known as Saheb, was unexpectedly released in the small hours of this morning. He then made his way home to Rasht – four hours’ drive north of Tehran – where he surprised his wife, Marjan, and their 15-year-old daughter Marta.

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‘Many Iranians don’t even know recognised religious communities are repressed’

Article 18 (08.02.2023) – “I faced oppression from a very early age”, says Dabrina Bet-Tamraz. The 37-year-old grew up in the Iranian capital, Tehran, where her father was a pastor in an Assyrian church. Now Dabrina lives in Switzerland, where she is a pastor and also helps political refugees from Iran. Recently, she was a guest speaker at the European Parliament launch of Open Doors’ World Watch List.

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Wife of imprisoned church leader released on bail

CSW (03.02.2023) – The wife of a leader from the Church of Iran denomination was released on bail on 28 January after spending over three weeks in Lakan prison in Rasht, the provincial capital of Gilan Province.

According to Middle East Concern, Anahita Khademi was released on a bail of 180 million tomans (approximately USD $4,000), but faces charges of ‘propaganda against the system’ and ‘disturbing public opinion’.

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Iran issues more jail terms against Baha’is in Iran – Including a third former leader

Iran Press Watch (23.02.2023) – This week, two Baha’i women in Iran, Mahvash Sabet and Fariba Kamalabadi, have entered the fourth month of unjust 10-year jail terms in Evin Prison. Together with five others, they were members of an informal leadership group of the Baha’i community in Iran until 2008, when the group was disbanded, all seven were arrested, and imprisoned for 10 years.

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Resolution condemning Iranian persecution against Baha’is introduced in Senate

Iran Press Watch (21.02.2023) –   Senate Resolution 74 (S.Res.74), condemning the recent surge in state-sponsored persecution of the Baha’i community of Iran, was introduced on February 16th in the United States Senate. It reflects a serious rise in a range of human rights abuses against the Baha’is over the last half of 2022, much of which occurred within the broader context of the government’s massive crackdown on protesters and the wider society.

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Jailed Baha’i refuses to confess against himself for release

IranPress Watch (16.02.2023) – A member of Iran’s persecuted Baha’i religious minority has refused to sign a false confession in exchange for his release, IranWire understands.

Payam Vali, a Baha’i citizen who has been held in jail for 145 days, has reportedly rejected demands by officials that he sign a false confession against himself to secure his release from prison.

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Eleven Baha’i citizens sentenced to a total of 36 years in prison

Iran Press Watch (10.02.2023) – According to these verdicts, Afif Na’imi, Saman OstovarKamyar Habibi, Rameleh Tirgarnejad, Mahsa Tirgar, Shahrzad Mastouri, Sadaf Sheikhzadeh, Negin Rezaie, Nakisa Sadeghi, Elham Shareghi Arani and Sabin Yazdani, to 36 years for “insulting and propaganda against Islamic Sharia, forming and participating in groups to act against national security through teaching and preaching the Baha’i faith to children in Kindergartens, promoting against Islamic Sharia through holding coaching courses” They have also been fined and banned from residing in Alborz province, leaving the country and other social deprivations.

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Habibollah Azizi: A Baha’i and the Islamic Republic’s first dual national murder

Iran Press watch (05.02.2023) – On January 14, the Islamic Republic executed Alireza Akbari, a former deputy defense minister and an Iranian-British dual national. But Akbari was not the first dual national sent to the gallows by the Iranian judiciary. In 2011, Zahra Bahrami, a UK resident with dual Iranian-Dutch citizenship, was sentenced to death by the infamous “hanging judge” Abolghasem Salavati.

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The Islamic Republic is on the path to committing a mass atrocity. The World should pay attention.

Iran Press Watch (05.02.2023) – According to the Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA), since Mahsa Jina Amini was killed by the so-called morality police in September 2022, demonstrations have occurred in at least 163 cities and at 144 universities in Iran. Security forces have killed over five hundred protesters and over nineteen thousand have been detained. Sunni majority-ethnic minorities in Kurdistan province and Sistan and Baluchistan province have experienced persecution at a greatly elevated scale.

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