Two Iranian Christian pastors and one deacon have been handed down six-year prison sentences for their alleged “crimes.”
Pastors Benham Irani and Matthias Haghnejad and deacon Silas Rabbani will be forced to spend six years in isolated prisons; Irani will be sent to a prison in the northern city of Zabol, while Haghnejad and Rabbani will serve their sentences in a prison on the island of Minab.
Christian Solidarity Worldwide Chief Operating Officer Andy Dipper said after the sentences were announced, "We are deeply concerned by the six-year sentences given to pastors Irani and Haghnejad and deacon Silas Rabbani, and the fact that they will serve these sentences so far from their families and home towns.”
Irani’s sentence will actually extend 12 years because he had previously been charged with “action against the state” and “action against the order” in 2006.
Dipper said, "We are particularly appalled by the extra six years given to pastor Irani, who has already endured ill-treatment whilst in prison and now faces nearly a decade in prison on trumped-up charges. We urge the Iranian government to release without delay every person who is imprisoned for their faith. Their incarceration contravenes international covenants guaranteeing freedom of religion or belief, to which Iran is party."
Publication date: October 21, 2014