Eight arrested at Karaj house church

Eight arrested at Karaj house church

At least eight members of a house-church in Karaj were arrested earlier this month during a raid by plainclothes intelligence agents.

During the raid on Friday 7 August the agents confiscated Bibles, Christian pamphlets, a computer and other belongings, and arrested all those in attendance: Esmaeil Falahati, Hayedeh Shadnia, Shahin Bashiri, Mona Chahardoli, Nematullah Yousefi, Ziba Jalilvand, Hossein Rastegari and a man named Razmik.

Five days later, Esmaeil, a 35-year-old father of two, was able to call home, though he didn’t say anything about where he was being held.

According to HRANA, quoting witnesses and neighbours, the arrests were carried out by more than 15 armed intelligence agents, who beat the Christians before taking them away in vans.

Mohabat News reported that the plainclothes agents, who were armed with handguns, failed to produce a search warrant. They also reportedly later attempted to round up some other members of the group.

Mohabat said the arrests were “due to their Christian beliefs and attendance at house-church meetings, and are aimed at increasing pressure on the Persian-speaking Christian community in Iran”.

Three of the detainees have reportedly been released on bail, but there has been no news about the other five, despite their families’ attempts to find out information via both the prison and Revolutionary Court.

The US Commission on International Religious Freedom last week, on the eve of the second year of the presidency of Hassan Rouhani, continued to condemn human rights abuses in Iran, including the arrest and detention of many prisoners of conscience, and demanded their release.

Also, Ahmed Shaheed, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in Iran, warned at the 28th session of the Human Rights Council that the rights of religious minorities in Iran, such as Yarsanis, Baha’is, Christians, Dervishes and Sunni Muslims, are still being violated, and are now at a “crisis” point.