I.R.G.C. Agents Detain Iranian Christian Converts without Charge or Trial

By Ahmad Majidyar | Fellow and Director of IranObserved Project - The Middle East Institute | Mar 7, 2017
I.R.G.C. Agents Detain Iranian Christian Converts without Charge or Trial

Plainclothes agents of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (I.R.G.C.) have arrested two Christian converts and transferred them to an unknown location, Mohabat News reported. The Iranian outlet, which reports on the situation of Iran’s Christian minority, added that I.R.G.C. intelligence officers detained Anousha (Veronica) Rezabakhsh and Sohail (Augustin) Zargarzadeh-Sani at their residence in the Iranian city of Urmia two weeks ago, but no charges had been filed against them yet. The authorities raided their house “without prior notice and searched the premises and took away personal items such as religious and holy books,” Mansour Borji, the spokesperson for the Alliance of Iranian Churches known as Hamgam, told the Center for Human Rights in Iran.

Comment: Authorities in the Islamic Republic have arrested hundreds of Iranian Christians since the 1979 revolution. Several leaders of the Christian minority have also been killed. The government has prohibited the publication of the Bible in Persian language and local authorities have at times banned religious ceremonies at churches. Last year, 19 human rights organizations called on the Iranian government to end acts of harassment and persecution against Christian converts.

President Hassan Rouhani had pledged during his 2013 election campaign that he would ensure that “all ethnicities, all religions, even religious minorities, must feel justice.” But he has done little to fulfill that promise as the country’s religious minorities, including the Christian community, continue to suffer persecution and discrimination. Amnesty International’s 2016/17 stated: “Members of religious minorities, including Baha’is, Sufis, Yaresan (Ahl-e Haq), Christian converts and Sunni Muslims, faced discrimination in law and practice, including in education, employment and inheritance, and were persecuted for practising their faith.” The report added that Iranian authorities had “detained tens of Christian converts after raiding house churches where they peacefully gathered to worship.”

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