Christians summoned to Tehran prosecutor for final defence

Christians summoned to Tehran prosecutor for final defence

Left to right: Somayeh (Sonya) Sadegh, Mina Khajavi, and Joseph Shahbazian.

Five Iranian Christians who were among dozens arrested during coordinated raids on house-churches in three cities last year were summoned on Saturday to give their final defence before a Tehran prosecutor.

The Christians were given five days to present themselves at the Evin prosecutor’s office, and at least three of them have already done so – Joseph Shahbazian, who is an Iranian-Armenian, Mina Khajavi, and Somayeh (Sonya) Sadegh.

According to their lawyer, Iman Soleimani, the charges read out to them at the prosecutor’s office included: “promoting ‘Zionist’ Christianity”, “weakening faith in Muslim clerics”, “membership in opposition groups” to “disrupt national security”, “weakening the foundation of the family”, and “attracting Muslims to house-churches”.

They denied all the charges. 

Mina, who is 58 years old, told the prosecutor the interrogators had thrown away her actual testimony and said to her: “You must write what we want you to write!”

Her lawyer said the accusations against all the Christians were based only on the allegations of these Revolutionary Guard intelligence agents, and not on any evidence.

Mr Soleimani added that Mina, who is 58 years old, was asked by the prosecutor about the history of Protestantism and how it is connected with Zionism, to which she responded that she had no knowledge about such things.

She was also accused of converting her husband and child to Christianity. 

She responded that she had forced nobody to convert, and that her family members had themselves decided to convert after seeing the profound change her new faith had made to her life.

Mina was then told that another member of her house-church had brought charges against her. (Interrogators often pressure converts to bring accusations against their friends in order to secure their own release.)

The Christians were told their cases would now be passed on to the 19th Branch of the Revolutionary Court of Tehran.

Article18 has not been able to confirm whether the other two Christians – Salar Eshraghi Moghadam and Farhad Khazaee – have yet presented themselves at the prosecutor’s office, but they have until tomorrow to do so.