By Jeremy Reynalds
Senior Correspondent for ASSIST News Service
SURREY, ENGLAND (ANS) -- Pastor Behnam Irani, currently held in Ghezal Hesar prison in Iran, is being denied hospital treatment for severe bleeding due to stomach ulcers and complications with his colon.
Pastor Behnam Irani
According to a story from Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW), as a result he temporarily lost consciousness last week.
Sources close to CSW fear that he may have months or only weeks to live. Irani is being kept in his cell as his health continues to decline. He has received death threats from fellow prisoners and endured regular beatings from his cell mates and prison authorities. As a result of these injuries, he has difficulty walking. He also has trouble with his vision.
CSW reported that Irani pastors the Church of Iran congregation in Karaj. He was arrested in Dec. 2006, and sentenced to six years imprisonment on charges of "action against the state" and "action against the order."
CSW said the verdict against Irani includes text that describes him as an apostate and reiterates that apostates "can be killed."
CSW said during the first few months of his imprisonment, Irani was held in solitary confinement in a small cell, where guards would repeatedly wake him from sleep as a form of psychological torture. He was moved into a cramped room where inmates could not lie down to sleep, before being transferred to his current cell.
A CSW official said in a news release, "The treatment meted out to Pastor Irani is inhumane and is in violation of article 10 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), which states that prisoners must be treated with humanity and with respect for the inherent dignity of the human person. The Iranian authorities must be urged to ensure that Pastor Irani receives the hospital treatment he so urgently requires and is protected from fellow prisoners who have threatened his life."
CSW the organization continues to urge Iran to honor its international legal obligations and grant unconditional release to Irani and others currently detained or facing execution on account of their faith.
Christian Solidarity Worldwide works for religious freedom through advocacy and human rights, in the pursuit of justice.
For further information, visit www.csw.org.uk.