Imprisonment of 37 Christian converts highlighted by Human Rights Watch

Imprisonment of 37 Christian converts highlighted by Human Rights Watch

Iran’s mistreatment of religious minorities, including the imprisonment of 37 converts to Christianity, is highlighted in the Iran chapter of Human Rights Watch’s latest annual World Report.

“As of September 30, Iran has sentenced 37 Christians who converted from Muslim backgrounds to imprisonment for ‘missionary work’,” notes the report, citing Article18 as the source of the information.

HRW also highlights the sentencing of at least 208 Dervishes; the detention of at least 79 Baha’is, and the refusal to allow them to register at public universities “because of their faith”; the discrimination faced by Sunnis; the cultural and political restrictions placed on Azeris, Kurds, Arabs and Baluchis; and the case of Yazd city councillor Sepanta Niknam, a Zoroastrian, who was suspended from his work because of his religion.

The report also notes the reaction of Iran’s security forces to the numerous nationwide protests in 2018: “arbitrary mass arrests and serious due process violations”. 

“Authorities have also tightened their grip on peaceful activism, detaining lawyers and human rights defenders who face charges that could lead to long jail terms,” says HRW.

HRW’s report also highlights:

  • The execution of at least 225 people, with “apostasy” and “insulting the prophet [of Islam]” among crimes punishable by death in Iran.
  • The continued detention of scores of human rights defenders and political activists.
  • The failure to provide fair trials and adequate medical care to those charged with national-security crimes (among them several Christians); and the suspected use of torture to extract confessions
  • Discrimination against women in “personal status matters related to marriage, divorce, inheritance, and child custody”.
  • Stigma and discrimination against disabled people, and failure to provide them with sufficient access to social services, healthcare and public transportation.
  • Iran’s continued role in the ongoing Syrian Civil War.