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IRAN: Hearing Cancelled Again

IRAN: Hearing Cancelled Again

Three long standing cases were combined in a ruling by presiding judge Ahmed Zargar in February 2019, with the latest appeal scheduled for 1 June.

The first case involves Pastor Victor of the Assyrian Assemblies of God, and two Persian Christian converts, Amin Nader Afshari and Kavian Fallah Mohammadi, who were all arrested at a December 2014 Christmas celebration. The second case also involves Amin Nader Afshari, re-arrested in August 2016 at a picnic with another convert, Hadi Asgari. The third involves Shamiram, Pastor Victor’s wife, summoned by authorities in June 2017. Between them they are facing 55 years in prison on national security charges.

Since the decision to combine the cases, every scheduled hearing has failed to take place.

On 1 June pastor Victor and Shamiram went to Branch 36 of the Islamic Revolutionary Court in Tehran along with their lawyers and legal representatives for the Christian converts. After a long wait, they were informed that the hearing was cancelled. No reason was given and the lawyers were not allowed to approach the judge.

The on-going judicial process continues to be stressful for the defendants and their families.

Source: Middle East Concern

  • Ask the Lord to encourage Pastor Victor, Shamiram, Amin, Kavian and Hadi through this difficult trial.
  • Pray the lawyers representing the defendants will have wisdom to argue their case well.
  • Pray the cases will soon be reviewed appropriately and the heavy and unjust prison sentences overturned.

Post your prayer in the comments below.

IRAN: Four Converts Imprisoned in Rasht

IRAN: Four Converts Imprisoned in Rasht

In February, Ramin Hassanpour, his wife Kathrin Sajadpour, Moslem Rahimi and another convert who does not wish to be named, were arrested for being part of a house church.

On 14 May they attended a hearing at Branch 10 of the Revolutionary Court in Rasht, facing charges related to house church membership – considered a political crime by the Iranian regime.

The court set bail at 500 million tomans each (approximately $46,000 AUD). Unable to meet the demand, they have been transferred to Lakan Prison, near Rasht. On 18 May the court reduced the bail to 200 million tomans each (approximately $19,900 AUD). It is hoped they will be freed on bail.

Ramin and Kathrin have two sons (16 and 7). The younger son is now being cared for by his grandparents.

Iran has a long history of using the judicial system to financially exploit Christians while also condemning them to long sentences in some of the country’s harshest jails. Christians from the Church of Iran have frequently been singled out by the authorities.

Due to COVID-19, there has been much uncertainty regarding the fate of those entangled in the judicial process. Many prisoners have been released, including a small number of Christians, some of whom have had their prison sentences cancelled. How the judiciary will proceed with open cases has yet to be determined.

Sources: Middle East Concern, Article 18, International Christian Concern

  • Please pray the Lord will comfort, strengthen and give His peace to those in prison and their families.
  • Please pray these believers will soon be released.
  • Thank the Lord for the way He is growing the church in Iran. Ask Him to uphold the church so they can withstand ongoing opposition from the authorities.

Post your prayer in the comments below.

IRAN: Christian Convert Unconditionally Released from Prison

IRAN: Christian Convert Unconditionally Released from Prison

Iranian Christians are thankful that Rokhsareh (Mahrokh) Ghanbari has been released from prison.

Mahrokh was convicted of “propaganda against the system” after a hearing at Karaj Revolutionary Court on 27 July 2019 and sentenced to one year in prison. She was initially arrested shortly before Christmas 2018, when three agents from Iranian intelligence raided her home. She was detained for ten days and endured intense interrogation.

Mahrokh started serving her prison sentence at Kachui Prison, Karaj, on 14 October 2019. She was released temporarily as of 2 March because of the COVID-19 pandemic, after providing security. On 2 April prison authorities informed Mahrokh that she was no longer required to return to prison. It is expected that she will be able to reclaim the money put down as security.

With the outbreak of COVID-19 in Iran, around 85,000 prisoners have been released, including some Christians. However, Christians convicted on political charges, such as “acting against national security” have been refused release, along with other political prisoners.

Source: Middle East Concern

  • Thank the Lord for Mahrokh’s early release. Pray that her testimony may strengthen other believers.
  • Pray she will be healed from any trauma associated with her detention and adjust well to normal life.
  • Pray for the Christians detained on political charges who face exposure to COVID-19 infection, that they will know God’s protection and consolation and will also be released

Post your prayer in the comments below.

 

IRAN: Term of Exile Increased for Christian Convert

IRAN: Term of Exile Increased for Christian Convert

Iranian Christians request prayer for Christian convert Ebrahim Firouzi who has had his period of exile extended by eleven months.

In November 2019, after completing a five-year prison sentence on charges of “acting against national security”, Ebrahim started serving a two-year period of exile in Sarbaz, near the border with Pakistan in relation to a one-year prison sentence received in 2014 for “propaganda against the Islamic Republic”.

In December 2019 Ebrahim requested leave from Sarbaz to sort out family affairs in Hamedan. After waiting several days and receiving no response, he went ahead with his trip.

On 12 March, Ebrahim was notified that his exile had been extended by eight months for violating its terms, and an additional three months for failing to appear for a daily check-in. Ebrahim has been given no opportunity to appeal the decision.

The notification included false information about Ebrahim’s case, claiming he had been convicted of “cyber-spying” (a charge he never faced) and “propaganda against Islam” (a charge of which he was acquitted).

In a statement given to Articles 18, Ebrahim said, “The court has given a final verdict, without giving me an opportunity to explain or to defend myself, and uses charges against me which are either unrelated, or I’ve been acquitted of. Therefore, I have decided to take this matter to the media, to demand an explanation, and make my voice heard, as this is an example of a miscarriage of justice by the Iranian judiciary.”

Shortly after Ebrahim started the term of exile, he gave an interview about how he came to faith and his experience in prison. The English version can be viewed at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fdh8kQYUUFk&feature=youtu.be

Source: Middle East Concern

  • Pray that Ebrahim will not be discouraged by the decision to extend his term of exile in Sarbaz.
  • Pray the publicity of the case will highlight judicial inconsistencies in the decision and bring change.
  • Pray the Lord will make the period of exile in Sarbaz a time of blessing for Ebrahim and use him to bless others.

Post your prayer in the comments below.

IRAN: Second Prison Sentence for Iranian Convert

IRAN: Second Prison Sentence for Iranian Convert

Family and friends request prayer after Christian convert Ismaeil Maghrebinejad was given a second prison sentence – two years for “membership of a group hostile to the regime” in addition to an existing three year sentence.

Ismaeil (65) was arrested in Shiraz on 25 January 2019 and charged initially with “propaganda against the state and insulting the sacred Iranian establishment.” At a hearing on 22 October, the judge further accused Ismaeil of apostasy and increased bail demands from 10 million to 100 million tomans ($13,500). The apostasy charge was dropped at a later hearing in November.

Following a hearing on 8 January at Branch 105 of the Civil Court in Shiraz, Ismaeil was found guilty of “insulting Islamic sacred beliefs” in relation to a message he had forwarded poking fun at the ruling clerics and sentenced to three years in prison under Article 513 of the Islamic Penal Code.

Then on 27 February Ismaeil appeared before another court to face charges of “membership of a group hostile to the regime” (“evangelical Zionism” according to the court document). Evidence was apparently submitted from a report by the intelligence branch of the Iranian Military, but its substance is unclear. Following the hearing, Ismaeil was sentenced to two years’ imprisonment under Article 499 of the Islamic Penal Code.

Ismaeil has twenty days to appeal the sentence.

Iranian Christians are disappointed at the harshness of the second sentence, clearly directed against Ismaeil’s Christian faith.

Source: Middle East Concern

  • Ask God to strengthen and encourage Ismaeil and give him and his family a peace which passes understanding. Pray they will not lose heart but trust in the Lord’s timing and purposes.
  • Pray the three-year prison sentence and the two-year prison sentence will be successfully appealed.
  • Pray that God will strengthen His church in Iran, may it continue to grow.

Post your prayer in the comments below.