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In an article published August 19, the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI ) reports the arrest of a group of practicing Iranian Christians last week at an in-house church in the city of Isfahan, central Iran.

Eleven Christians were arrested during the raid last Friday, August 12, in which plain clothes intelligence agents, armed with pistols and carrying walkie-talkies, raided the Christian church while Mass was being served, according to eye-witnesses.  The intelligence agents also confiscated books and other Christian literature from the church.

Only ten of the arrested have been identified.  They include, Amin Ahanin, Mohammad Alyasi, Fatemeh Amini, Edmund Khachaturian, Mohammad Malek Khatai, Mohsen Khoobyari, Arash Qodsi, Hamed Sepidkar, Samaneh Shahbazi-Far and Maryam Zonubi. These eleventh person has not yet been identified, nor has any information regarding the status of the detainees been released. 

On Christmas Day, last year, the regime arrested a number of Iranian Christians at an in-house church in the city of Shiraz, southern Iran.  While they had gathered together to celebrate Christmas, plain-clothes agents of the Iranian regime's Ministry of Intelligence and Security (MOIS) raided their in-house church. The church was ransacked, and personal items were confiscated, according to reports.  Eye witnesses also said that the agents behaved 'offensively' towards the detainees.

Prior to the Iranian Resistance’s annual “Free Iran” rally last month in Paris, nearly 80 church leaders from the United Kingdom and United States signed a declaration expressing their deep concern over the suppression of Christians in Iran. They further urged Western governments to condition relations with Iran to include improvement of the human rights situation, such as the treatment of Christians in Iran.

“The Bishops, including John Pritchard, former Bishop of Oxford; the Bishop of Stepney, Adrian Newman; the Bishop of Selby, John Thomson; and Rachel Treweek, the Bishop of Gloucester who is the Church of England's first diocesan bishop, and priests reiterated that the suppression of Christians in Iran has increased during Hassan Rouhani’s tenure,” according to the NCRI.

They added, “Iran’s ruling theocracy is rightly a source of grave concern for human rights organizations and institutions with a particular interest in the protection of the rights of Christians. … Reports by the UN Secretary General, the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Iran, and the U.S. State Department all indicate that the repression of Christians has not only continued but intensified during the presidency of Hassan Rouhani.”

The Christian leaders reiterated, “In such circumstances, we call on all Western countries to consider the deplorable situation of human rights in Iran, particularly the painful situation of Christians and the intensification of their oppression, in navigating their relations with Iran. We call upon them to precondition improvement of those relations on the cessation of oppression of Christians and on a halt in executions.”

 

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