My view of life from the cheap seats… Art Chartier
By BosNewsLife Middle East Service
TEHRAN, IRAN (BosNewsLife)– Two Christian converts are already over 50 days in Tehran’s feared Evin prison as part of a crackdown on spreading Christianity in heavily Islamic Iran and it remains unclear when they will be released, BosNewsLife learned Monday, March 4.
Shahrzad Y., a 25-year-old woman, and a man named as Sam S. 27, were both detained on January 9 after security forces raided their homes in western Tehran, Iranian Christians said.
The two university students were reportedly charged with the “formation and promotion of house churches and holding gatherings intended for committing crimes.”
Iranian police also confiscated personal belongings including laptops, Christian books and notes, Christian song Compact Disks and cameras, reported Mohabat News, a news agency of Iranian Christians and activists.
Their arrests came shortly after some 50 other Christians were reportedly detained on similar charges, though it remained unclear how many of them remained behind bars Monday, March 4.
Besides the two converts held in Evin prison, police also tried to detain a Christian couple, identified as Shirin J. and Ali M., but they already fled and may have left the country, according to Iranian Christians familiar with the case.
Mohabat News accussed Iranian security forces of violating international laws by detaining Shahrzad Y. and Sam S. without a proper warrant.
“The mere fact that the authorities are wearing uniforms, carrying walkie-talkies…or guns [and arrive] in police cars does not authorize them to enter a private home,” it said.
“Article 9 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights [says] ‘No one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest, detention or exile’,” the agency commented.
News of the detention only emerged over the weekend, as families were threatened by Iranian authorities to remain quiet about the arrests of their loved ones, Iranian Christians said.
Family members and friends reportedly revealed details about the detention after Iranian officials refused to release them.
Even if they are released, their future remains uncertain: Fatemeh Nouri, another Christian convert and a university student in Art in Tehran, was denied education for a year because of her faith, after being held for three months in Evin prison.
Iranian Christians say the detentions are aimed at intimidating the growing house church movement and an attempt by the government to halt the spread of Christianity in the country, where at least 100,000 evangelical believers have been reported.
Iran’s leadership has consistently denied wrongdoing.
Officials say they are protecting Islamic values and defend the country against dangerous sects and unwanted foreign influences.