a letter to the Iranian ambassador on the case of four condemned Christians, Evangelical Focus
The Spanish Evangelical Alliance (AEE) sent a letter to the Iranian Embassy in Spain regarding the case of four Christians who were recently sentenced to prison terms in the Persian country.
The documentsigned by the secretary general of the organization, Emilio Carmonasets forth the cause of the four believers in question.
“These people were simply exercising their freedom of thought, conscience and religion, as well as their freedom of expression, as defined in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights ratified by their country”. Carmona adds: “I am deeply shocked by this news because I believe that freedom of religion or belief is very important”.
Moreover, the document expresses a clear concern not only for the situation of condemned believers, but also for that of Christians in Iran as a whole.
The letter sent by the Spanish Evangelical Alliance to the embassy of Iran in Spain, about the sentence immposed on 4 Christians. / AEE
“This matter leads me to ask you: if Christians cannot meet in their homes, where should they meet to worship? I know there are a lot of Christians in Iran so they should be able to meet somewhereCarmona told the Iranian ambassador. “Can Christian believers be safe when they come to a church to worship together?”
In this sense, the Alliance calls for release of the four christians who have been sentenced and “that their charges be revoked”, as a sign of tolerance and respect for fundamental rights from the Iranian government.
Spanish Alliance letter refers to cases of Iranian Christians of Armenian descent Anooshavan Avedian and Joseph Shahbazianand converted women Malihe Nazari and Mina Khajavi.
Avedian was sentenced in May 2022 to 10 years in prison for spreading “anti-Islamic propaganda”. A subsequent appeal hearing upheld the sentence and added a further 10 years of disenfranchisement. According to International Christian Concern, in early August, Iran’s Supreme Court has rejected Avedian’s requests for a new trial and for his release.
Meanwhile, as Open Doors explains, Iranian-Armenian pastor Joseph Shahbazian was also sentenced to 10 years in prison, accused of having “national security disorder” working to establish house churches. After serving his sentence, he will have to live in an isolated region of the country for another two years. Shahbazian was arrested in the summer of 2020, in a series of raids in which dozens of Christians were detained.
Along with him, Khajavi and Nazari were also found guilty, each sentenced to six years in prison.
The Iranian government declared to guarantee the right to religious freedom. According to the national news agency tasnim, the government considers that “no one is persecuted in Iran for the simple fact of having an opinion or belonging to a particular class or group”. However, civil organizations and human rights groups speak of a policy of “Muslim demographic purity” in the country, and that “conditions have been created which compel Christians to leave”.
In recent days, news has also emerged of a Iranian refugee whose asylum claim was rejected by the European Court of Human Rightsafter having first been refused by the German authorities and then referred to the European judicial institution.
Hassan (pseudonym), 44, had fled Iran citing a possible risk to his life after converting to Christianity. However, the The German justice rejected his request because it considered his conversion “particularly unlikely”after considering what happened to his brother-in-law, who was tortured and executed, and his wife, who also suffered violence.
“It is more likely that the events described, if they actually occurred, had a chilling effect on third parties,” the German judges said. Hassan could now be deported to Iran.
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– Spain: a letter to the Iranian ambassador on the case of four condemned Christians