Originally published in Mohabat News
Following a long wait and much uncertainty and after the judicial authorities rejected their appeal to be released on bail, five Christian converts in Shiraz officially received a trial date. They spent eight months after their arrest in prison with their fate unknown.
According to Mohabat News reporters, five Christian converts, who have spent eight months in prison, finally received a date for their trial through their lawyer.
Their trial, according to the announcement paper, is to be held on Monday, October 15, at 10 a.m. in Branch 3 of the Revolutionary Court in Shiraz. The names of the Christians are as follow, Messrs.. Mojtaba Hosseini, Mohammad-Reza Partoei (Kourosh), Vahid Hakkani, Homayoun Shokouhi and his wife Mrs. Fariba Nazemian.
The report received by Mohabat News indicates, these Christian converts are charged with “creating illegal groups”, “participating in house church service”, “propagation against the Islamic regime” and “defaming Islamic holy figures through Christian evangelizing”.
Prior to this, on May 11, 2008, Mojtaba Hosseini and Homayoun Shokouhi had been arrested because of their Christian faith, together with eight other Christian converts in Shiraz. At that time, they were sentenced to five years in prison but released conditionally. One year from that suspended five year sentence is still remaining. It is believed that their prior case may also be reviewed in the trial that is to come.
Since their arrest, all five Christian prisoners are being held separately in wards where dangerous criminals like murderers and drug dealers are also being held in Adel-Abad prison in Shiraz. According to reports, Homayoun Shokouhi is being held in ward 10, which is believed to be the worst ward of all, Mohammad-Reza Partoei is in ward 11 and Mojtaba Hosseini and Vahid Hakkani are in ward 4, but on different floors. Also, Mrs. Fariba Nazemian is in the women’s ward in the same place as feemale drug addicts and murderers.
Homayoun Shokouhi and his wife, Mrs. Fariba Nazemian, have two children, a 17 year old son and a 12 year old daughter. Their children are totally alone since their parents’ arrest and are going through many difficulties.
It is noteworthy that their trial was set to be held between April 19 and 26. They were transferred to Revolutionary Court of Shiraz and were interrogated by Mr. Rezaei Dadyar in Branch Seven. They were told that some judicial officials have said that they would not accept any kind of bail for their temporary release.
These Christian prisoners’ rights were also violated during their transfer to the court. As Mohabat News reporters witnessed, each time they were transferred with their hands and feet chained. This occurred although according to the regulations of the Prisons in Iran, prisoners of conscience should not be handcuffed or chained.
It should be remembered that security authorities raided a house on February 8, 2012, after they had identified it as a house church. The group of Christians who had gathered there to worship were ill-treated and eventually arrested. They were then taken in police cars to the detention center of the Intelligence Office in Shiraz, known as “Pelak 100”, for interrogation.
It should be mentioned that harassment and discrimination against religious minorities has been a major Human Rights violation issue by the Islamic regime of Iran, during the last 30 years.
Regarding the situation of Christians in Iran, in the opening paragraph of its report, Fox News wrote that in a country like Iran where Christians are being pressured, the only way to secure the release of Christian prisoners is to continue the international pressure on the Iranian regime.
The Islamic government of Iran has increased its pressure on Iranian Christian converts during recent years. It has closed churches or prevented Farsi-speaking people from entering churches and uses all means to restrict and suppress “freedom of religion”.