Iran: Intensified crackdown on religious minorities
Two new Christian converts, imprisoned in Tehran’s Evin Prison, were put on trial on April 8th and the verdict will be issued in the coming days.
Amin Afshar Naderi and Hadi Askari were arrested in August 2016 in a private garden in Firouzkuh, northern Iran, for seeking membership in a house church.
“Authorities detained dozens of Christian converts after raiding house churches where they had peacefully gathered to worship. Sites considered sacred by Baha’is, Sunni Muslims and Yaresan, including cemeteries and worshipping sites, were destroyed by men believed to be affiliated with security forces,” according to the Amnesty International 2016 annual report.
Members of religious minorities in Iran are persecuted for practicing their faith. Those who spoke out against violations of their rights face ill-treatment even imprisonment.
Afshin Seyed Ahmad, a Baha’i community member, is serving his three-year sentence in hall 12 of Rajayishahr Prison, west of Tehran. He was first arrested on November 7, 2012, along with Kamran Geysar, residing in Karaj, also west of Tehran. Security forces confiscated their houses and shops. He had been under interrogation in ward 209 of Tehran’s Evin Prison for 40 days and then was temporarily released on bail.
He received a phone call and was summoned by judiciary officials to answer questions in Evin Prison. However, he was arrested instead and transferred to a quarantine ward in Rajayishahr Prison.
Peyman Kushkbaghi is being denied furlough despite being imprisoned for a year.
He was reportedly taken to an unknown location on February 28, 2016, following a scheduled family visit. Mr. Kushkbaghi and his wife, Azita Rafizadeh, have been sentenced to five and four years behind bars, respectively, for “measures threatening national security.”