Pastors Behnam Irani, Matthias Haghnejad, and Deacon Silas Rabbani, who previously had capital charges against them dropped, have been each given six-year sentences by an Iranian court.
The verdict, issued by Judge Asef al-Hosseini, ordered Pastor Irani to serve his sentence in a prison in the northern city of Zabol, while Pastor Haghnejad and Deacon Rabbani will be transferred to a prison in Minab, an island in the Persian Gulf. All three are appealing their sentences.
The cities of Zabol and Minab are infamous for their extremely hot climates. Moreover, the prisoners’ families will be forced to travel long distances in order to visit them, which will prove to be challenging, both financially and physically.
The additional six-year sentence handed to Pastor Irani means he will serve a total of 12 years in prison. He was initially arrested in December 2006, and sentenced in 2011 to six years’ imprisonment for ‘action against the state’ and ‘action against the order.’
These fresh sentences are indicative of the surge in repression under the Rouhani presidency targeting religious and ethnic minorities. This has occurred despite his earlier promise to uphold the rights of religious minorities during the run up to elections last year.
Source: Christian Solidarity Worldwide
- Pray these men will not despair but continue to hope and trust in the Lord’s perfect timing and promises.
- Pray they may have an eternal perspective and take comfort in the fact that their faith is being strengthened during this time of suffering.
- Pray that they may be encouraged to see the Holy Spirit at work, even in their prison; pray He will use their testimonies as a witness to others.