Four Christian Converts Arrested in Karaj on New Year’s Eve
Plainclothes officers arrested four Christian converts in a village outside of Tehran on Tuesday, December 31, 2013, a source close to Iran’s Christian converts told the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran. Sara Rahiminejad, Majid Sheidaee, Mostafa Nadri, and George Issaian were violently arrested at the latter’s home in Fardis village of Karaj, 36 kilometers outside Tehran, as they celebrated the Christian New Year.
“Several Christian converts had gathered at the home of George Issaian to celebrate the New Year when plainclothes forces stormed the home, beat up those in attendance, and arrested them in an insulting way,” the source told the Campaign. According to the source, the forces first searched Mr. Issaian’s home and the personal belongings of the attendees and then confiscated “a computer, laptops, CDs, family albums, a satellite receiver, and several books and notes.”
The source also told the Campaign that despite trips to the Tehran Security Police and Evin Prison, the families of the detainees have not yet been able to have any information about the conditions of their relatives and remain in the dark about their situation.
Arrests and persecution of Christian converts by security and military organizations have continued in force for years and the threats, summonses, and arrests intensify annually at Christmastime and into the New Year celebrations, when Christians gather to worship and partake in the celebrations.
Several other Christian converts, Ahmad Bazyar, Faegheh Nasrollahi, Mastaneh Rastegari, Amir Hossein Nematollahi, and a man by the last name of Hosseini were arrested in a house church in Eastern Tehran on Christmas day. Two weeks after their arrests, no detailed information is yet available about their conditions, except that a source informed Ahmad Bazyar’s family that the group was arrested by the IRGC and that they are currently in IRGC’s Ward 2-A inside Evin Prison.
According to another report about the persecution of Iranian Christians, the Karaj Revolutionary Court sentenced Hossein Saketi Aramsari, a Christian convert, to one year in prison. Mohabbat News, the Iranian Christian News Agency, reported that Judge Assef Hosseini, Head of Branch One of Karaj Revolutionary Court, sentenced Mr. Saketi, known as Stephan, who was arrested in Northern Iran last summer. Hossein Saketi is currently at Ward 7 of Central Karaj Prison.
In a continuation of imposed restrictions on Christian converts, Persian-speaking Christians have been barred from entering Tehran’s Sacred Peter Church. The Sacred Peter Church is one of Iran’s Evangelical Churches.
The largest Persian-speaking church in Iran, which belonged to Iran’s Assemblies of God and was located on Tehran’s Taleghani Street, remains shut down as a result of pressure by the Islamic Republic authorities.
Following Hassan Rouhani’s election as Iran’s president, the situation of human rights remains alarming in Iran. In his fall 2013 report, Ahmed Shaheed, the UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in Iran, stated, “Continued harassment, at times amounting to persecution, and human rights violations against persons belonging to recognized religious minorities, including, inter alia, Christians, Jews, Sufi Muslims, Sunni Muslims and Zoroastrians and their defenders, noting in particular the widespread arrest and detention of Sufi Muslims and evangelical Christians, including the continued detention of Christian pastors.”