Status of Five Christian Converts in Iran's Shiraz Unknown


Date:  2012-06-17

By Jeremy Reynalds
Senior Correspondent for ASSIST News Service

SHIRAZ, IRAN (ANS) -- It is now more than four months since five Christian converts were arrested by plain clothes security officers in Shiraz.

According to Iranian Christian news agency Mohabat News, the five are being held in Adel-Abad Prison in Shiraz, 934 kilometers south of the Iranian capital of Tehran, and their situation remains unknown.

Their names are Fariba Nazemian and Mojtaba Hosseini, Homayoun Shokouhi, Mohammad-Reza Partoei (Koroush) and Vahid Hakkani.

Sources close to the story told Mohabat News that Nazemian is being held in awful conditions in the women's ward. She is housed with drug addicts and murderers and is not safe. She is married to Shokouhi.

Mohabat News said although the Christians have not yet been officially charged with any crimes, some judicial authorities announced their charges as attending house church services, promoting Christianity, propagating against the regime and disturbing national security.

Mohabat News said the reports indicate that a date has yet to be set to address the situation. As a result, the five "remain in uncertainty after these 130 days in prison."

Mohabat News commented, "This is an obvious example of physical and mental abuse of the detainees."

Mohabat News said one of the prison guards told one of these Christian detainees that all these pressures and uncertainties are intended to make them flee the country after they are released.

That's because, Mohabat News reported the guard said, the Islamic Republic authorities believe that the regime and its foundations are based on the Quran so they don't want Christians in the country.

In April the five Christian converts were taken to the Islamic Revolutionary Court for the first time. There, Mohabat News said, they were interrogated. After the interrogation was completed, they were sent back to the Adel-Abad prison.

Prior to this, Mohabat News said, some judicial authorities were quoted as saying that there would be no bail for the five.

Mohabat News commented it should be remembered that security authorities raided a house on Feb. 8 2012, after they identified it as a house church. The group of Christians who had gathered there to worship were badly treated and eventually arrested. They were then taken in police cars to the detention center of the Intelligence Office in Shiraz, known as "Pelak 100," for interrogation.

According to Mohabat News, three other Christian detainees arrested in the same incident were temporarily released on bail of 100,000,000 Toman (about 85,000 USD) on March 14 2012. That after spending 36 days in detention. They have no idea what their future holds. They will eventually have their day in court.

Mohabat News said, "Therefore, we call on all human rights organizations and associations to publicize the critical situation of the Iranian Christian community. This includes protesting the recent closure of the Farsi-language Church of Janat-Abad, condemning the brutal and illegal actions of regime agents towards Christian converts, pleading for official recognition of their rights and the immediate and unconditional release of imprisoned young Christians."

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