Concern for Christian convert after two weeks’ detention in unknown location

Concern for Christian convert after two weeks’ detention in unknown location

A Christian convert arrested last month remains in detention in an unknown location, as his wife and two daughters grow increasingly concerned.

Farrokh Kakaei, who will celebrate his 55th birthday later this month, was arrested at his home in Karaj on 26 May by four plainclothes officers of Iran’s Ministry of Intelligence, before being taken away to an unknown location.

It is also unknown whether Farrokh has received any formal or informal charges, but the arresting agents confiscated a framed image of Jesus, alongside his laptop, mobile phone, and computer hard-drive.

Farrokh, who grew up in a Yarsani family in Kermanshah, has been able to call home twice during his detention, but could not say where he was being held.

At least 14 Iranian Christians have been arrested so far this year, but few have given permission to publish their cases, leading to a continuing sense of “faceless victims” – a trend that inspired the title of Article18’s latest annual report. 

Only two of the more than 100 Christians arrested last summer permitted Article18 to publicise their cases – Hakop Gochumyan, who has since been sentenced to 10 years in prison, and his wife Elisa – even though a further 17 had by the end of 2023 received prison sentences of between three months and five years, or non-custodial punishments such as fines, flogging and in one case the community-service of digging graves. 

Three more of those arrested last summer have since been summoned to serve five-year prison sentences, while seven others were sentenced in January to a combined 12 years in prison, as well as fines, travel bans, and in one case flogging for drinking wine with Holy Communion.

At least 15 more Christians have been sentenced so far in 2024, seven have begun serving their sentences, and a dozen others are due to stand trial this month – all on charges related to the peaceful practice of their faith but dressed up as crimes against “national security”.

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