A Christian and four Christian converts were arrested on August 26, 2016 by the Intelligence Ministry near Tehran, the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran has learned.
file photo: Iranian Christians mark the new year 2014 in Sarkis Church in Tehran
“The five individuals and their wives were having a picnic in Firoozkooh [90 miles east of Tehran] when Intelligence Ministry agents entered the private garden. The arrested individuals were not conducting a religious meeting and had gathered only for a good time. Three copies of the Bible were confiscated from them,” Mansour Borji, the spokesman for the Council of United Iranian Churches (HAMGAAM), told the Campaign.
The detainees-Amin Afshar Naderi, Hadi Asgari, Amir Saman Dashti, Mohammad Dehnavi, and Ramil Bet Tamraz-are being held at Evin Prison.
“The agents did not present a warrant when they entered the garden and when Amin Afshar Naderi asked for one, he was given a beating,” added Borji.
Tamraz is the son of Victor Bet Tamraz, a pastor and former leader of the Assyrian Pentecostal Church in Iran who was arrested on Christmas Eve 2014 along with two others and accused of illegally printing and distributing Bibles for missionary activities. Naderi was also arrested that night in 2014, according to Borji. Both men were later released on bail.
“The five arrested individuals have not done anything against the law and for this reason their families are very worried that the arrests are aimed at extracting false confessions to frame other converts in connection with home missionary activities,” said Borji.
Despite President Hassan Rouhani’s pledges during his election campaign in 2013 that “all ethnicities, all religions, even religious minorities, must feel justice,” the targeting of Christian converts has continued unabated under his administration.
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