Date:  February 24, 2024

This Tuesday we were in UK Parliament for an incredibly moving event. It marked the launch of a joint report by Article18, CSW, Open Doors and Middle East Concern, entitled ‘Faceless Victims’.

We are thankful for this opportunity to shed light together on the suffering of Christians in Iran. We are particularly grateful to Assemblies of God leader Rev Farhad Sabokrooh and his wife Shahnaz, whose powerful testimonies brought several attendees to tears.

Above all, we pray that all who attended – politicians, journalists, and anyone with the power to make a difference – will be stirred to action by what they heard.

Mervyn Thomas (CSW’s Founder President) said:

‘What gives me hope is that there's more awareness of these things than there has ever been… So I see hope, more than there has been. But the situation is as bad as ever, if not worse.’

The report revealed that more Christians were unjustly arrested last year compared to the year before – yet fewer names and faces could be publicised. Of the 166 Christians arrested in 2023, the vast majority chose not to publicise their situation, in the hope it may help their cases.

The wider world may not know their names or faces, but there is One more powerful who knows them even more deeply than that. Our Heavenly Father sees every injustice perpetrated against them. He knows them from their mother’s womb (Psalm 139:13); knows every hair on their head (Luke 12:7); knows their needs before they even ask (Matthew 6:8).

Waves of arrests

Last year, more than 100 Christians were arrested during a three-month period, before a further wave of arrests over Christmas.

During his speech, Mervyn highlighted the arbitrary nature of these arrests:

‘Christians are regularly charged with unsubstantiated national security-related crimes which, along with penalties for taking communion wine or gathering for prayer, Christmas celebrations and even a picnic, effectively criminalises normal Christian practice and social activities, while restricting freedom of association and the right to manifest one’s religion or belief even in private.’

In summary, please pray:

  • Giving thanks for the awareness raised by this collaborative report, and for everyone who bravely shared their experiences.
  • That false charges against Christians and other religious minorities would be dropped – allowing those imprisoned for their faith to be immediately, unconditionally and permanently freed.
  • That the Iranian authorities would reopen closed churches, return confiscated properties, and permit Farsi-speaking Christians to worship in their mother tongue.
  • That the recommendations of the report will be put into action and make a real difference for those who are suffering.
  • For the government of Türkiye to stop returning Iranian refugees and asylum seekers, and to release all Iranians who are currently detained pending forced repatriation.