Iran has arrested three more Christians and sentenced them to prison for spreading the Gospel.
“Iranian Christians Mohammad Roghangir, Suroush Saraie and Pastor Matthias Haghnejad were arrested by the security forces at the pastor’s home in Bandar-Anzali,” reports Independent Catholic News.
Sources close to Christian Solidarity Worldwide reported that security agents confiscated Bibles belonging to Pastor Matthias’ family during the raid, while Human Rights Activist News Agency reports that pamphlets and a personal computer owned by the pastor were also taken.
“Pastor Matthias has been targeted regularly by the Iranian regime and has been imprisoned on three other occasions,” reported the Catholic news service. “Mohammad Roghangir and Suroush Saraie were part of a group of seven Christians who were initially arrested on October 12, 2012, when security forces raided a prayer meeting. The group was sentenced on July 16, 2013, after being found guilty of “action against the national security” and “propaganda against the order of the system.”
Roghangir was sentenced to six years imprisonment, while Suroush Saraie received two and half years. Both sentences were upheld on appeal.
Chief Executive of CSW has said the organisation is “deeply concerned” by the latest developments.
“These men have been targeted by the Iranian authorities in the past,” said Mervyn Thomas, chief executive officer of CSW, “and despite the political charges being levied against them, they were clearly arrested on account of their faith.”
“We urge the Government of Iran to halt its harassment and imprisonment of religious minorities and to uphold freedom of religion or belief, as outlined in covenants to which Iran is party. In addition, the international community must hold Iran to account for the wellbeing of prisoners of conscience.”
“Iran has a long history of human rights abuses,” writes Carey Lodge of Christian Today. “Violence is rapidly escalating across the country, propelled by laws which allow the legal persecution of minority communities such as Christians and Baha’i Muslims, who have been condemned by Iranian authorities as an ‘illegal cult.’ Christian converts are forbidden from praying in public churches and American pastor Saeed Abedini, who is serving an eight year prison sentence for ‘threatening the security of the state,’ remains in jail in Iran for his involvement in developing home church communities.”
Publication date: July 9, 2014