HUMAN RIGHTS GROUPS SLAM IRAN FOR PRISON TERMS OF CHRISTIANS AND DERVISHES
The London-based Amnesty International wrote on August 24 that Iran’s regime should “Quash the convictions and sentences of Victor Bet-Tamraz, Shamiram Issavi, Amin Afshar-Naderi, and Hadi Asgari, as they have been targeted solely for the peaceful exercise of their rights to freedoms of religion and belief, expression, and association, through their Christian faith.”
Amnesty said that “Pastor Victor Bet-Tamraz and Shamiram Issavi, ethnic Assyrian Christians, and Amin Afshar-Naderi and Hadi Asgari, Christian converts, have been sentenced to between five and 15 years in prison. They have been targeted solely for peacefully practicing their Christian faith. The authorities have cited peaceful activities such as holding private Christmas gatherings, organizing and conducting house churches, and traveling outside Iran to attend Christian seminars, as ‘illegal church activities’ which ‘threaten national security’ in order justify their convictions. The individuals, who are all currently free on bail, are awaiting the verdict of the appeal court.”
“Stop the harassment, arbitrary arrest and detention, and imprisonment of Christians, including converts, in Iran,” wrote Amnesty in its statement.
Amnesty noted, “On 26 December 2014, Victor Bet-Tamraz, was arrested with Amin Afshar-Naderi and one other individual after plain-clothed security forces raided his home in Tehran during a private Christmas gathering. They were taken to Tehran’s Evin prison where they had no access to their lawyers and little contact with their families. They were released on bail several months later. On 21 May 2017, they were put on trial with Hadi Asgari, who had been arrested in a separate incident on 26 August 2016 in the city of Firuzkuh, Tehran Province. In July 2017, Branch 26 of the Revolutionary Court in Tehran sentenced each of them to 10 years in prison on the charge of ‘forming a group composed of more than two people with the purpose of disrupting national security’ in relation to their church activities.”
“The same court sentenced Amin Afshar-Naderi to a further five years in prison for ‘insulting Islamic sanctities’ for a comical Facebook post he shared from someone else’s account that adopted a Quranic writing style about the sharp rise in the price of chicken in Iran. Hadi Asgari was released on bail in April 2018,” wrote Amnesty.
The European Union, according to Iran experts, appears to be prioritizing the preservation of the Iran nuclear deal over human rights abuses in the Islamic Republic. The US withdrew from the atomic agreement in May and the EU seeks to retain the deal.
Read More: The Jerusalem Post
Iran Briefing | News Press Focus on Human Rights Violation by IRGC, Iran Human Rights
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