Arrests of Rasht converts continue, taking total to 9 in a month

Arrests of Rasht converts continue, taking total to 9 in a month

Three more members of the “Church of Iran” network in Rasht have been arrested, taking the total to nine in the past month.

Babak Hosseinzadeh and Mehdi Khatibi were arrested at two separate “house churches” on Saturday evening, reports Middle East Concern

A third “Church of Iran” member, Behnam Akhlaghi, was summoned to the offices of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards (Sepah) on the same day, 23 February.

All three remain in custody.

L to R: Kamal Naamanian, Mohammad Vafadar and Shahrooz Eslamdoust. (Middle East Concern)

Previously, Hossein Kadivar and Khalil Dehghanpour were detained following a raid on the “house-church” meeting they were leading on 29 January; Abdolreza (Matthias) Ali-Haghnejad was arrested on 10 February during a raid on his home; then Kamal Naamanian, Mohammad Vafadar and Shahrooz Eslamdoust were arrested at a “house-church” gathering on 15 February. 

All six were helping to lead services in the absence of their jailed pastor, Yousef Nadarkhani. Two of them – Abdolreza and Kamal – had been arrested before for their religious activities.

Middle East Concern reports that Hossein and Khalil have been taken to Lakan Prison, pending a court hearing. The others are still being detained in the offices of the Revolutionary Guards.

L to R: Abdolreza (Matthias) Ali-Haghnejad, Khalil Dehghanpour, and Hossein Kadivar (MEC)

Yousef and three other “Church of Iran” members – Zaman (Saheb) Fadaie, Mohammad Ali Mossayebzadeh, and Mohammad Reza Omidi – are currently serving ten-year jail sentences for “acting against national security” by “promoting Zionist Christianity” and running “house-churches”. They were sentenced in July 2017 and taken to serve their sentences a year later, in July 2018, after violent raids on their homes, having received no warning, nor summons.

Yousef previously spent nearly three years in prison after being sentenced to death for apostasy in 2010. He was acquitted of the charge in September 2012.

Yousef’s wife, Fatemeh, was recently told she will be arrested if she leaves Gilan Province, HRANA reported last week.