Iranian Christian prisoner sends condolences to plane victims

Iranian Christian prisoner sends condolences to plane victims

An Iranian Christian serving a ten-year prison sentence for his membership of a house-church has shared his condolences with the families of those who lost loved ones during the recent downing of a Ukrainian passenger plane.

Article18 obtained a copy of the handwritten letter that Nasser Navard Gol-Tapeh sent from his cell in Tehran’s notorious Evin Prison.

In the letter, dated 14 January, he expressed his “warmest and deepest condolences to the families of the victims” whom he said had been brought to “eternal silence”.

Below is a translation of the letter, which was written in Persian:

In his letter, Nasser expresses his ‘warmest and deepest condolences to the families of the victims’.


“In the name of God,

“Now six days have passed since the eternal silence of 176 human beings. 

“Those noble and blessed souls who surrendered their lives to the Creator of life. 

“What can we say except condolences to the mourners, except empathy and compassion for the bereaved?

“I express my warmest and deepest condolences to the families of the victims of the incident involving the Ukrainian plane.”

Christian prisoner, Nasser Navard Gol-Tapeh, Evin
14 January 2020

Nasser has written several letters from prison, querying the charges against him and his heavy sentence.

In October, Nasser asked how involvement in house-churches could be considered an “action against national security”.

He added that he could not understand why he had been given such a long prison sentence, noting that Christians are one of Iran’s “recognised” religious minorities.

Previously, in a letter in August 2018, Nasser posed three questions:

“Would it be even possible for a committed Christian – who was born and raised in Iran and whose forefathers lived in this land for thousands of years, and who is a servant to the God who has called him to a ministry of reconciliation – to act against the national security of his own country?

“Is the fellowship of a few Christian brothers and sisters in someone’s home, singing worship songs, reading the Bible and worshiping God acting against national security?

“Isn’t it in fact a clear violation of civil and human rights, and an absolute injustice, to receive a ten-year prison sentence just for organising ‘house churches’, which are a sanctuary sanctified as a place to praise and worship God due to closure of churches in Iran?”

Nasser is one of at least 19 Iranian Christians currently incarcerated on national security-related charges, stemming from the peaceful practice of their faith.

Article18’s latest annual report, released yesterday, provides details of these prisoners and of the myriad ways in which Christians’ rights continued to be violated in Iran in 2019.