For Immediate Release
5 January 2011
70 Christians arrested and detained over Christmas in Iran
In the early hours of Christmas day the Iranian government arrested 25 Christians and sought to detain 16 others. 50 other Christians have also been detained but it is unclear as yet what the full details are surrounding their cases.
This was the second year running that security services in Iran had targeted Christians over the Christmas period.
Of the 25 detained, 11 have been released. Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) has serious concerns for the remaining 14 individuals still in prison.
The individuals are all evangelical believers. They include pastors and leaders from within the house church networks of Iran. The government puts severe pressure on such individuals interrogating them brutally and holding them in solitary confinement in order to obtain the names of other church members, to deter them from continuing to practice their faith and to threaten them with further ramifications for Christian activities.
One of the most troubling developments in the latest arrests has been the anti-Christian rhetoric used in public media by religious leaders and members of the Iranian government. Morteza Tamadon, the Governor of Tehran, announced the arrest of several evangelical leaders in a speech in Tehran on 4 January 2010. "Just like the Taliban... who have inserted themselves into Islam like a parasite, they have crafted a movement with Britain's backing in the name of Christianity," he told state-run news agency, IRNA. Mr. Tamadon described the Christians as “tabshiri” or ‘missionaries’ and threatened more arrests in the near future.
Andrew Johnston, Advocacy Director of CSW, said: “We condemn this brutal attack on evangelical Christians in Iran. The arrest of 70 members of one group reveals the clear targeting of individuals along religious lines. Iran is a signatory to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and is therefore legally obligated to uphold international standards of religious freedom for all its citizens.”
For further information or to arrange interviews please contact Matthew Jones, Public Affairs Officer at Christian Solidarity Worldwide on +44 7826 938 360, email email@example.com or visit www.csw.org.uk.
CSW is a human rights organisation which specialises in religious freedom, works on behalf of those persecuted for their Christian beliefs and promotes religious liberty for all.
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