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Iranian church council condemns threats against Tehran church

Iranian church council condemns threats against Tehran church

A sign was posted on the door of the Central Assemblies of God Church in Tehran, telling church members it had been closed for “major repairs”.

Pastor Edward Hovsepian, who oversees a collection of Iranian out-of-country churches called the Council of United Iranian Churches, or Hamgaam Council, has told Article18 he believes the “threats and illegal pressure” being placed on Persian-speaking churches is an attempt to “eradicate them”.

“Those in charge of the Islamic Republic have to stop this as soon as possible,” he said.

The Hamgaam Council has condemned the recent threat of closure against the Central Assemblies of God Church in Tehran and the arrest of its pastor, Robert Asseriyan.

In a statement released yesterday, the council wrote:

“The Hamgaam Council of Iranian Churches condemns the continuing violation of the rights of religious minorities and freedom of religion and belief in recent years in relation to Persian-speaking Iranian churches in various forms.

“Extensive and illegal arrests, interference in the internal affairs of churches, illegal restrictions on the time and manner of worship services, threats to church members and leaders, baseless and anti-security allegations against Protestant churches, and banning the publication of the Bible and Christian literature in Persian – these are among the measures that, unfortunately, have taken an upward trend in recent years.

“The Church of Christ in Iran is in a critical condition. The threat posed against the Central Assemblies of God Church of its imminent closure, as well as the arrest of several church leaders, is a new milestone in efforts to eradicate Persian-speaking Christianity. The recent arrests and imprisonment of pastors Robert Asseriyan and Farhad Sabok Rouh, his wife Shahnaz Jizan, and church members Nasser Zamen Dezfuli and Davood Alijani are just a small example of this behaviour, which violates the law and human rights. Such a process must be thwarted by the unity and joint action of Iranian and non-Iranian churches around the world.

“The Board of Directors of the Hamgaam Council of Iranian Churches invites all Iranian Christians around the world to pray for the security and blessing of their Christian compatriots and not to give up any effective action to defend and support them.

“The Hamgaam Council of Iranian Churches, along with human rights organisations, political institutions and the international community, has called for the issue of persecution of Persian-speaking churches in Iran to be taken seriously and for the Islamic Republic of Iran to be held accountable.”