Iran: arrests and harsh sentences continue

On 1st and 2nd September five Christians were arrested in Esfahan. Bibles, computers and mobile phones were confiscated and Mohammad Taslimi, Hamidreza Borhani and his wife Zainab Akbari, Moluk Ruhani and her sister, Sepideh Morshedi, were arrested and taken to Dastgerd prison, Esfahan. They have yet to be charged.

Prior to this on August 12th Iranian security authorities arrested two Christian men at a house church in Tehran. They are being held in Ghezal Hesar prison, Karaj. The owner of the house was unable to return for several weeks as his house was being watched.

A worrying development is the serious charges being levelled against church leaders. Recall that on 3rd August a leader within the “Church of Iran” denomination, Abdolreza (Matthias) Haghnejad, was charged with “Moharebeh”- enmity against God – a crime that can carry the death sentence. He has since been charged with “Mofsed-e-filarz” – generally translated as “spreading corruption on Earth”. This charge also carries the death sentence.

Two other members of the “Church of Iran” movement are reported to have recently been charged with “Mofsed -e-filarz” as well: Behnam Irani, serving a six year sentence for “action against the state and against order”, has received an additional 18 other charges including “mofsed -e-filarz” and Reza (Silas) Rabbani, who was arrested on 5th May 2014 and has suffered much physical abuse at the hands of security agents has also recently been charged with “mofsed -e-filarz”.

The charge of “Mosfed-e-filarz” has been applied to a wide range of expressions of political or religious dissent and carries the death sentence. Since the Iranian Revolution of 1979, possibly more than 8,000 people have been executed under this charge ranging from former members of the Shah’s government, leaders of opposition or terrorist groups, to opponents of the regime and some Baha’i leaders. (Source: Middle East Concern)