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Eight converts given prison sentences in Shiraz

Eight converts given prison sentences in Shiraz

The Revolutionary Court in Shiraz on Tuesday 16 July handed heavy jail sentences to eight members of the “Church of Iran”.

Mohammad (Vahid) Roghangir was sentenced to six years in prison; Massoud Rezaie to five; Mehdi Ameruni and Bijan Farokhpour Haghighi to three; Shahin Lahooti and Soroush Saraei to two and a half; and Eskandar Rezaei and Roxana Forughi to one.

They were convicted of “action against national security” and “propaganda against the regime”. All eight are expected to appeal.

Seven of the eight were arrested in October at a “house church” meeting in Shiraz at the home of Mohammad Roghangir. The eighth, Massoud Rezaei, was arrested six days later.

All eight were eventually released on bail after paying significant sums.

Over the past few years, the use of national-security-related charges against prisoners of conscience has become a constant trend in the Islamic Republic’s judicial system, with the aim of providing a political tone to the activities of religious minorities and providing a legal basis for their conviction.

Article18’s Advocacy Director, Mansour Borji, commented: “It is unfortunate that the government of the Islamic Republic of Iran, in violation of its legal and international obligations, continues to persecute religious minorities, especially Persian-speaking Christians, by making false accusations such as ‘acting against national security’ against house-church members and their peaceful activities.

“Article18 demands that Iran respects the legal rights of Persian-speaking
Christians, providing them with true religious freedom in accordance with Article 18 of the International Covenant of Civil and Political Rights and Universal Declaration of Human Rights, to which Iran is a signatory.”