Five Christian converts have been held in Adel-Abad prison in Shiraz for six months.
The five imprisoned Christian
Iranian Christian News Agency, Mohabat News, reported that authorities are attempting to raise unsubstantiated charges against these Christians to heighten the pressure on them. By doing this, Mohabat News said, they are also attempting to intimidate other Christian groups.
Mohabat News said Fariba Nazemian, Mojtaba Hosseini, Homayoun Shokouhi, Mohammad-Reza Partoei (Kourosh) and Vahid Hakkani were told by the court that no decision will be made on issues concerning their case for the next two months.
Mohabat News said it was unclear who was present in the court session, and whether or not the detainees were allowed to hire an attorney or not.
However, Mohabat News said, the imprisoned believers were asked if they had reverted from Christianity back to Islam. The news service said court officials also insulted the Christians and claimed they had created a new sect which was not Gospel-based, Armenian or Assyrian.
In addition, Mohabat News said, authorities claimed that the imprisoned Christians had burned a copy of the Quran in the home of one of their friends.
Mohabat News commented, “It is obvious that this is a false claim brought up only to intimidate the detained Christian converts, and to magnify their charges in court. They were also told to defend themselves against the charge of having political contacts with foreign countries.”
Mohabat News assessed the validity of these claims. The news service said to bring more pressure on Christians when dealing with their cases, the Iranian judicial and security system has often attempted to create a negative view of Christians (and change public opinion and the international community’s view) by labeling them as political and referring to house churches as political meetings.
Mohabat News said authorities also charge Christians detainees with spying for Israel and having contacts with foreigners. That, Mohabat News said, helps authorities achieve their goal of convicting Christians.
Authorities have also been known to add the charge of “insulting sacred figures” to their cases. Mohabat News said dozens of Facebook users who are currently held in Evin prison were also charged with this offense.
Mohabat News said reports received by the agency say the five Christians were separated and transferred to different areas of the prison last week. Mohabat News commented, “These wards are known to have poor hygiene conditions, and the guards mistreat and insult their prisoners.”
According to the reports, Mohabat News said, authorities are not following the legal process in dealing with these five Christians. Judicial authorities were also heard saying that bail would not be considered.
Mohabat News said, “Although their situation is still unclear six months after their arrest, there is no doubt that the Christians’ only crime is related to their faith in Jesus Christ.”
The news service continued, “Therefore we call on human rights groups as well as groups and organizations advocating on behalf of Christian prisoners, to spread the news and make the situation of these Christian detainees known. (Also), to condemn these interrogation courts and call on security and judicial authorities of the Islamic Republic to secure the Christians’ immediate release.”