On Saturday, April 16, 2022, Christian convert Sekineh Behjati was sent to Lakan Prison in Rasht for sentencing. On the same day, another Christian convert Fariba Dalir was jailed in Evin Prison to serve her two-year sentence.
According to HRANA, the news agency of Human Rights Activists, on Saturday, April 16, 2022, Sekineh Behjati was jailed in Lakan Prison to serve her two-year sentence.
In February of 2020, along with three other Christian converts, Behjat was arrested by security forces at her house on the charges of “propaganda against the regime, and assembly and collusion against national security”. In May 2022, in her first court session held by Branch 10 of the Revolutionary court of Rasht, Behjat was granted a bail of 500 million tomans. Since she was not able to provide the bail, she was transferred to Lakan prison, until six days later, when she was released after the bail was reduced to 200 million tomans.
Subsequently, the court sentenced her to two years in prison on the charges of “acting against national security through organizing a home church service and propaganda against the regime through preaching evangelical Christianity.”
Similarly, Article 18 News Outlet reported the imprisonment of another Christian Convert Farbia Dalir in Evin Prison. She had been sentenced to five years in prison on the charge of “acting against national security through establishing a home church service”. Later on, this verdict was reduced to two years in prison. Dalir had been arrested on July 19, 2021, along with five other Christian converts.
The persecution of Christian converts stands in blatant violation of 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.
Branch 9 of the Supreme Court rejected a request by two Christian converts, Hadi Rahimi and Sekineh Behjati, for a retrial. Rahimi has been recently jailed to serve his four years sentence and Behjati has been summoned to endure her two years imprisonment.
According to HRANA, the news agency of Human Rights Activists, according to their lawyer, “their request for a retrial is justified on the Article 474 of the Criminal Procedure Code and based on the verdict issued by Branch 28 of the Supreme Court whereby running a home church is not considered as an act against the national security. Moreover, whereas the prosecution has been quashed by the Dezful Courthouse, there are similarities between the verdict against my clients and the above-mentioned verdict, Christian faith is not a crime and is supported by the freedom of expression, the inquisition is prohibited, and finally, every punishment should be predicted in law, the arguments lean towards defendant’s favor rather than the verdict. Nonetheless, regardless of these arguments, the request for a retrial was dismissed.”
In February of 2020, security forces raided their house, confiscated some of their personal belongings and interrogated them about the charges of “propaganda against the regime and assembly and collusion against national security.”
In August of 2020, Branch 26 of Tehran’s Revolutionary Court sentenced Rahimi and Behjati to four and two years imprisonment respectively on the charges of “membership in political groups to disturb national security”. In October of that year, their verdict was upheld on appeal.
On January 9, Rahimi was jailed in Evin Prison to endure his sentence.
Christian Convert Sekineh Behjati was summoned to appear at Branch 1 of the Public and Revolutionary Court in Tehran within 30 days to serve her two year sentence. She was convicted in August of 2020.
According to HRANA, the news agency of Human Rights Activists, security forces raided and interrogated Behjati in August of 2020 at her house, accusing her of “propaganda against the regime and assembly and collusion against national security.” They also searched the house and confiscated some of her personal belongings. She was told that she will be indicted soon.
In May of 2020, she was arrested after being summoned by Branch 10 of the Revolutionary Court of Rasht City. On May 14, 2020, she was sent to Lakan Prison after failing to provide a bail of 500 million tomans. Finally, she was released six days later after reducing the bail to 200 million tomans.
Despite the fact that Christians are recognized as a religious minority under Iranian law, security forces nevertheless harass and prosecute Muslims who convert to Christianity.
The prosecution of Christian converts stands in blatant violation of 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.