At least 10 still detained as numbers of arrests and affected cities rise

At least 10 still detained as numbers of arrests and affected cities rise

A clearer picture is beginning to emerge of the dozens of arrests of Christians that took place over a seven-week period in June and July, across as many as 11 Iranian cities.

Article18 previously reported that over 50 Christians had been arrested in the space of seven days in mid-July, across five different cities. The number of confirmed arrests now stands at at least 69*, across 11 cities, and with at least 10 of those arrested – four men and six women – still in detention.

The arrests took place between 1 June and 17 July.

And as well as the previously reported arrests in Tehran, Karaj, Rasht, Orumiyeh and Aligoudarz, Article18 can now confirm that arrests also took place in the cities of Isfahan, Shiraz, Semnan, Garmsar, Varamin and Eslamshahr.

Those who have been released have reported being forced to sign commitments to refrain from further Christian activities, or ordered to attend Islamic re-education sessions. 

Others said they were summoned for further questioning in the days after their release, or ordered to leave Iran, while one said his employment was terminated at the request of intelligence agents.

Bail amounts have ranged between 400 million ($8,000) and 2 billion tomans ($40,000).

For now, Article18 is not at liberty to provide any more details about the individuals involved, but while the vast majority are converts to Christianity, at least two of those arrested are Iranian-Armenians.

We will provide further updates in due course.

The rash of new arrests of Christians have coincided with a renewed crackdown on Iran’s Baha’i community, which alongside Christian converts is another unrecognised religious minority group.

Yesterday, the US Commission on International Religious Freedom bemoaned the new crackdown on Baha’is, noting that “in recent months, scores … have been arrested, tried, and jailed on religiously-grounded charges and targeted on the basis of their faith”.

Article18’s advocacy director, Mansour Borji, noted last month that the Iranian authorities had clearly begun “a fresh crackdown on civil liberties”, adding that the “traditionally vulnerable groups, such as Christians, are on the frontline of those targeted”.

Mr Borji also suggested that the return of a more forceful approach by the authorities, including a renewed crackdown by the so-called “morality police”, may be “to send out a message, both nationally and internationally,” ahead of the anniversary of the death in custody of Mahsa Amini, “that they [the authorities] are not moved or deterred”.

*Update (November 2023): By November 2023, Article18 had documented at least 106 arrests between June and September, across 12 cities (Kermanshah, in addition to those previously mentioned).

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