Security Forces Arrest Three Christian Converts in Rasht

On Sunday, September 5, Christian converts Ahmad Sarparast, Ayub Pour Rezazadeh, and Morteza Hajeb Mashhoud Kari were arrested by security forces in Rasht and taken to an unknown location.

According to HRANA, the news agency of Human Rights Activist, Mr. Sarparast and Mr. Pour Rezazadeh were detained in a house church. Security forces raided the homes of these citizens and confiscated some of their belongings, including cell phones, books, and pamphlets related to Christianity. According to an informed source, the agents behaved violently and insultingly and refused to show arrest or search warrants.

Relatives of these citizens are said to have been threatened by IRGC intelligence agents for providing information about the condition of their loved ones. Also, one of their relatives along with several other members of the house church were summoned to the Rasht IRGC Intelligence Office and interrogated.

According to a source close to the families of these citizens, after their families went to Branch 4 of the Rasht Public and Revolutionary Prosecutor’s Office to follow up on the case, they were not given any answer and were told, “Do not follow up. They will not be released any time soon. They do not deserve freedom and must stay.”

25-year-old Ahmad (Yohanna) Sarparast, 28-year-old Ayub (Farzin) Pour Rezazadeh, and 38-year-old Morteza Hajeb Mashhoud Kari are residents of Rasht.

Even though Christians are recognized as a religious minority under Islamic law, the security services nevertheless pursue the issue of Muslims converting to Christianity with particular sensitivity and deal harshly with activists in this field.

The Iranian regime targets Christian converts despite Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and Article 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which state that every individual has the right to freedom of religion and belief and freedom to express it openly or secretly.

As of this writing, the reasons for the arrest, the charges against them, and the whereabouts of these citizens are unknown.

Three Citizens Detained by Security Forces in Mahabad and Taken to Unknown Location

Three citizens from the village of Kuseh Kahriz ​in Mahabad County were recently arrested by security forces.

According to HRANA, the news agency of Human Rights Activists, quoting Kurdpa, after their arrest the citizens were taken to an unknown location.

According to this report, Hossein Dudkanlu Milan and Zaher Rozkhoon were arrested on August 29, and Mr. Shaho Ahmadi was arrested a week after them.

Despite the follow-up of the families of these citizens, the reasons for their detention, the charges against them, and their whereabouts  are not known.

79 Citizens Arrested for Promoting Emergence of a New Mysticism in Gilan Province

Maleki, the commander of the Gilan police force, recently announced the arrest of 79 citizens in one of the province’s forests.

According to HRANA, the news agency of Human Rights Activists, quoting Rokna, the citizens were arrested for what Maleki called “promoting emerging mysticism”.

“79 members of a tourist tour, including 27 women and 52 men, were arrested on charges of promoting false mysticism by holding superstitious rituals in the unsafe environment of a remote forest area,” he said.

Intrusion into citizens’ privacy and interference in their personal affairs are among the criticisms leveled at Iran’s judicial and disciplinary system.

“After receiving news about individuals who use cyberspace trying to propagate and promote emerging false mysticism through fraud,” Maleki continued, “receiving money, and setting up illegal tourist tours by holding superstitious rituals, the investigation of the issue was put on the agenda of the police.”

Mostafa Nili, Arash Kaykhosravi and Mehdi Mahmoudian Still in Detention in Evin Prison

According to HRANA, the news agency of Human Rights Activists, lawyers and civil activists Mostafa Nili, Arash Kaykhosravi, and Mehdi Mahmoudian are still in detention weeks after their arrest.

The citizens are being held in Ward 241 of Evin Prison under the supervision of the intelligence service of Judiciary.

On August 14, several lawyers and civil activists, including Mostafa Nili, Arash Kaykhosravi, Mehdi Mahmoudian, Mohammad Reza Faghihi, Mohammad Hadi Erfanian Kaseb, Maryam Afrafraz, and Leila Heydari, were arrested during a meeting at the office of the Association for the Protection of Civil Rights in Tehran.

Leila Heydari and Mohammad Hadi Erfanian Kaseb were released on bail a day after their arrest, and Mohammad Reza Faghihi and Maryam Afrafaraz were released on bail on August 29, but Nili, Kaykhrosravi, and Mahmoudian remain in detention.

These lawyers and civil activists have been accused of “running an illegal organization” under Article 498 of the Islamic Penal Code. Apart from being allowed to contact their families on the first day of their detention, these citizens have been largely denied the right to make telephone calls.

Two Citizens Detained by Security Forces in Oshnavieh in West Azerbaijan Province

On Sunday, August 29, two citizens from Oshnavieh were detained by security forces and taken to an unknown location.

According to HRANA, the news agency of Human Rights Activists, quoting Kurdpa, the identities of these citizens are Heydar Alizadeh from the village of Qazanabad, and Shirzad Mamandi a native of Narziveh village in Oshnavieh.

The report states that the arrests were made without a court order, and that security forces searched the homes of detainees, confiscated some of their belongings, including their cell phones.

As of this writing, no information is available on the reasons for the arrests, the charges against them, or the whereabouts of these citizens.

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Five Lawyers and 2 Activists Arrested by Security Forces in Tehran

On Saturday, August 14 Arash Kaykhosravi, Mostafa Nili, Mohammad Reza Faghihi, Mohammad Hadi Erfanian Kasb, and Leila Heidari, Mehdi Mahmoudian, and Maryam Afrafaraz were arrested by security forces in Tehran and taken to an unknown location.

According to HRANA, the news agency of Human Rights Activists, The citizens’ personal belongings were confiscated at the time of arrest by security forces.

Arash Kaykhosravi, Mostafa Nili, Mohammad Reza Faghihi, Mohammad Hadi Erfanian Kasb, and Leila Heidari are lawyers, Mehdi Mahmoudian is a journalist and member of the Central Council of the Etihad Mellat party, and Maryam Afrafaraz is a civil activist and a member of the Imam Ali Charity Association.

Mohammad Hadi Erfanian Kaseb and Leila Heydari were released hours after their arrest. Five others are still in detention.

The reasons behind the citizens’ arrests and their whereabouts are not known as of this writing, and the number of detainees is likely to be higher.

Hamshahri Newspaper: During the Protests, 300 People were Arrested in Susangerd Alone

Hamshahri newspaper, which is owned by Tehran Municipality, published a report yesterday stating that at least 300 have been arrested during the recent protests in the city of Susangerd alone.

According to HRANA, the news agency of Human Rights Activists, the report acknowledges that at least 12,000 people were present at a protest rally in Susangerd–a noteworthy distinction amid denials of unrest from many official sources.

According to the report, the day after the first day of the protests, July 15, Khuzestan Governor Qassem Soleimani Dashtaki denied everything about the protest, saying, “Some seek to provoke the people and publish fake images of the protests in cyberspace.” He claimed, “There were no protests in the cities of Khorramshahr and Susangerd.”

Subsequent events showed that the governor’s words were wrong. The Hamshahri newspaper also reported that the protests were peaceful until the fourth day in Susangerd and surrounding cities but escalated into violence with the arrival of troops and special forces.

Until that day, no provincial or government officials were willing to speak to the people. Finally, on the fourth day, with the arrival of the non-native special police unit in the Susangerd area, the atmosphere changed. The police were aimed at stopping protests by any means necessary. Citizens wondered why the special unit had been summoned to the city, given the peaceful nature of their protests.

According to the Hamshahri report, 2018 statistics showed that Khuzestan was the highest ranked province in number of protests, with about 300 union and non-union gatherings and sit-ins in that year alone. Given the high capabilities and abundance of resources within the province, it should be one of the wealthiest regions, but decades of mismanagement and exploitation have left Khuzestan with abysmal rates of unemployment and poverty. Regarding the water issue, citizens have been protesting, in various ways, for more than 20 years, but nothing has been done.

Several Arrested After Protest Rally in Front of Tehran City Theater

On Saturday, July 31, many artists and citizens protested in front of the Tehran City theater in support of the people of Khuzestan, and to protest the critical condition of the country. An unknown number of the protesters in attendance were arrested by security forces.

According to HRANA, the news agency of Human Rights Activists, the rallies turned violent after the arrival of military and security forces.

Protesting citizens chanted slogans against supreme leader Seyed Ali Khamenei upon the arrival of military forces.

During the rally, people chanted, “Police force, support us”, “Death to Khamenei”, “Death to the Islamic Republic”, “The country has no water, pressure continues” , “From Khuzestan to Tehran, unity” , “Death to the dictator”, and “Iranians will die but will not accept humiliation.”

In an interview with HRANA, a citizen reported that several citizens were arrested by security forces during the protest around the Daneshju park. The identities and total number of detainees are not yet known and are under investigation. The protest took place following a call by the artists.

 

Three Christian Converts Sentenced to a Total of 15 Years in Prison and a Fine

Amin Khaki, Milad Goodarzi, and Alireza Nourmohammadi were sentenced by the Fourth Branch of the Revolutionary Court of Karaj to five years each in prison and a fine of 40 million tomans.

According to HRANA, the news agency of Human Rights Activists, quoting the website Article 18 , the three christian converts were sentenced for “Propaganda and educational activities contrary to the holy Sharia of Islam”.

The citizens had been released on bail of 250 million tomans each in November 2020 after being summoned to judicial authorities and filing a case.

Despite the fact that Christians are recognized as a religious minority under Iranian law, the security services nevertheless pursue the issue of Muslims converting to Christianity with particular sensitivity and deal harshly with activists in this field.

The Iranian regime targets Christian converts despite Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and Article 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which state that every individual has the right to freedom of religion and belief and freedom to express it openly or secretly.

Aram Fathi and Soraya Haghdoost Released on on Bail of 100 Million Tomans

Today, Monday, June 28, Aram Fathi and Soraya Haghdoost, two detained citizens from Marivan, were released on a bail of 100 million Tomans.

According to HRANA, the news agency of Human Rights Activists, quoting Kurdpa, the two citizens were arrested by security forces on Thursday, June 17th. Ms. Haghdoost was transferred to Sanandaj Prison after her arrest, and Mr. Fathi was transferred to Marivan Prison.

Aram Fathi, a resident of Marivan with a history of arrests and convictions, was  arrested by security forces at his home arrest.

Soraya Haghdoost, also citizen of Marivan, was arrested by security forces on Thursday, June 17, and transferred to Sanandaj Prison.

As of this writing, no information is available on the charges against the citizens.