Concerns about Unknown Status of Christian Detainees in Hamadan Prison
Charges against four Christians (out of an initial group of nine) are still undecided after three months spent in prison.
According to reporters from Mohabat News and the Iranian Christian News Agency (ICNA), who simultaneously follow issues concerning Iran’s Christians, some of the detainees are still in Hamadan jail.
A Sept. 19 2010 news report broadcast on Iran National TV said in part, “A nine-member group of Christians were arrested in Hamadan on charges of evangelistic activities.”
Mohabat and ICNA reported that security authorities in collaboration with the media, said the group’s purpose was to destroy the Islamic Republic of Iran. The story reportedly called them, “Zionist Christians.”
Mohabat and ICNA said the names are of the four are Vahik Abrahamian, and his wife Sonia Keshish Avanessian. They are Armenian-Iranian Christians. The others are Farsi-speaking Christians. They are Arash Kermanjany and Arezou Teimouri.
Mohabat and ICNA said on the evening of Sept. 4, security forces entered Abrahamian’s home and arrested him. It was also reported that two other Christian converts were there as guests at the same time. Security officers searched the house and collected some personal belongings. Later they took the individuals to an undisclosed location.
According to Mohabat, some other Farsi-speaking Christian Converts in the cities of Karaj, Tehran and Hamadan, were also interrogated. Most of them were released after they gave an assurance of ceasing evangelical activities.
Mohabat and ICNA said sources show Vahik Abrahamian and Arash Kermanjany are being incarcerated in Section 4 of the Hamadan Public Prison, and Sonia Keshish Avanesian and Arezou Teimuri are in the women’s section of the same facility. They were reportedly kept in solitary confinement for 40 days before being transferred to the Hamadan Public Prison.
During those initial 40 days, their families were reportedly unable to visit them.
Mohabat and ICNA said judicial authorities have yet to say why these believers are still imprisoned without being formally charged.
Meanwhile, Mohabat and ICNA said, during a meeting of the top directors of the Ministry of Education, there was a warning by one minister against evangelical Christian activities. This individual reportedly said evangelicals were carrying out a “soft war” against the Islamic Republic.
Mohabat and ICNA said the term “soft war” is one that Iranian officials, especially after last year’s presidential election, have been using against voices and movements of dissent in Iran.
Mohabat and ICNA said that Vahik Abrahamian was arrested on Feb. 20 2010 by security officials in Tehran on charges of activities among the Muslim community.
He spent two months in prison but was temporary released on a 10 thousand dollar bail, on April 24, until his trial date. Vahik Abrahamian has a dual citizenship in Iran and the Netherlands, but because of his love for Iran he and his family opted to stay there.