Iran: Mass Arrests of New Christian Converts in Shiraz

Dan Wooding | ASSIST News Service | Thursday, October 18, 2012
Iran: Mass Arrests of New Christian Converts in Shiraz

Iran: Mass Arrests of New Christian Converts in Shiraz

SHIRAZ, SOUTHERN IRAN (ANS) -- The mass arrests and disappearances of 40 Christians in Shiraz and Cavar by the state security agents of Iran in late September 2012 have been confirmed in the semiofficial media of the Islamic Republic, reports the Farsi Christian News Network (FCNN).

In a report filed from Shiraz in southern Iran, FCCN states that in a “massive operation” conducted by the agents of the Ministry of Islamic Information (Intelligence) in various parts of the provincial capital city of Shiraz in the last days of September, some 30 Christians were arrested and transported to the ministry’s own infamous private detention center, locally known as “Number 100,” while others had already been detained.

“Local sources inform us that at least 10 of the captives are still in this detention center,” a FCCN spokesperson told the ASSIST News Service. “The location of the other 20 is yet unknown, with the likelihood of some having been transferred to Aadel-Aabad prison-fortress, just outside the city. Some of them may have been bailed.

“Sources maintain that one, or possibly more, of the detainees had previously been charged, convicted and jailed for evangelical activities amongst Muslims. Under intense security surveillance, it currently is not possible to publish the names and/or photographs of the recently arrested Christians of Shiraz.”

FCCN goes on to say that court attendance scheduled after eight months of illegal detention conveniently for the Islamic authorities; this new wave of arrests coincides with the notice of court appearance by the previously arrested Christians in Shiraz.

“Since their arrest on February 8, 2012, there have been numerous reports of their abuse at the hands of the arresting agents -- the Islamic interrogators. During their months-long illegal imprisonment, they have endured harsh treatment during their lengthy illegal imprisonment, as well as mishandling of their legal rights by the judiciary of the Islamic Republic.”

After months of unlawful imprisonment, Mr. Homayoun Shokohi, his wife Mrs. Fariba Nazemian, as well as Mr. Vahid Hakani, Mr. Korush Partoey, and Mr. Mojtaba Ala’edin Hossein, were due to about to appear before the Islamic Revolutionary Court of Shiraz to answer the charges brought against them.

“In July of 2012, having endured nearly five months of unlawful captivity without charge, and denied legal aid of any sort; these innocent Christians were finally released on bail,” said the FCCN spokesperson.

The news service says that during their bail hearing, the Islamic judge --- “on his own authority” -- added the “entirely spurious charges” of “Quran burning” and “Having contacts with enemies of the Islam abroad.”

The FCCN report added that the prisoners were then offered the opportunity to recant their faith in Jesus Christ. Once the Islamic judge heard their refusal to comply with his demands, they were told of the extension of their detention for a further two months.

The news service went on to say that apart from the five mentioned above, two of whom are under arrest for the second time on charges of “evangelizing Muslims,” a number of other Christians in the city have been warned by the Islamic authorities to be prepare to be called in for interrogation on charges of evangelizing and baptizing converts from Islam.

One such Christian has been so harassed for over two years now and has repeatedly been summoned for interrogation by various Islamic security agencies.

“The ill treatment of believers, and restrictions against church activities in the city of Shiraz; has caused considerable difficulties for the city’s growing community of Christians,” concluded the FCCN spokesperson.

“They cannot openly practice their faith nor even talk about it or introduce their children to their Christian duties. The dark and menacing shadow of a steadily more fearsome Islamic Secret Police looms heavy."

c. 2012 ASSIST News Service. Used with permission.

Dan Wooding, 71, who was born in Nigeria of British missionary parents, is an award-winning British journalist now living in Southern California with his wife Norma, to whom he has been married for 49 years. They have two sons, Andrew and Peter, and six grandchildren who all live in the UK. He is the founder and international director of ASSIST (Aid to Special Saints in Strategic Times) and the ASSIST News Service (ANS) and he hosts the weekly “Front Page Radio” show on the KWVE Radio Network in Southern California and which is also carried throughout the United States and around the world.

Publication date: October 18, 2012