Friday, November 2, 2012

A jailed Iranian church leader appeals to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and other international source

The jailed priest, Behnam Irani, a member of the board leadership of Iranian churches, asks for help from the High Commissioner for Human Rights. He mailed his appeal to “Human Rights Activists for Democracy in Iran” to be released and sent to the UN Special Rapporteur, International Amnesty, other international sources, and media. His letter is as follows:

“ I am a priest, Behnam Irani, born in 23 Oct. 1968, in Tehran city, accused for actions against the security of the country, and unfair publicity against the ruling regime. During two trials, I was convicted for 5, and 8 months imprisonment, and at this moment, on 1st of Nov.,  it is exactly 17 months that I am living in the central penitentiary of Karaj. About 14 years ago, in 1998, I was approved by the Missionary center (Hook) in Zurich, Switzerland as a priest and servant of Jesus, and I served Churches in Iran and neighboring countries.

Generally, Evangelical Churches of Iran always undergo injustice, such as the execution of the priest, Masoud Soudmand, for apostasy accusation, the chain murders in 90’s among them were holy men like Bishop Haik Hovsepian Mehr who was an Iranian Protestant Church council representative, and Mehdi Dibaj who after more than 9 years imprisonment, and two or three months after his release was assassinated, and also the pastor Michaelian, and pastor Ravanbakhsh who was hanged in the Mazandaran forest. From the past until now, almost always the Christian believers and servants were among the prisoners. 

In the churches of Iran, that I am honored to serve them, for nearly 20 years, we are under the psychological stresses and security pressures by the regime, and enduring many hardships and tragedies. In 90’s, repeatedly, the Intelligence ministry police attacked our homes in different cities. When the incumbent president , Mr. Mohammad Khatami was talking about the dialogue of Civilizations, the members of our churches were mistreated and harassed just because of gathering for god worshiping and religious collaborations.

Pastor Yousef Nadarkhani who is responsible for the Church of the Rasht was sentenced to death because of apostasy accusation, but after more than 3 years uncertainty was convicted for 3 years imprisonment and was released about 2 months ago. At the time, his wife the mother of two kids, was also arrested and detained for 4 months.

The church of Iran which I am a member of its leadership board, obviously was attacked in 9th Dec. 2006, between 7 am to 10 am in the Sunday morning by coordinated operations in 3 cities of Tehran, Karaj, and Rasht. Along with me 9 other servants and officials of the church among the church leadership council were arrested.

For 10 days, I was staying in the solitary confinement in Section 8 of Rajaei shahr prison of Karaj city, which is known as Section 8 of Sepah (which belongs to Intelligence ministry), under interrogations and sever psychological stresses . Eventually, I was released after 10 days, and by judge Asif Husseini, in the revolutionary court in Karaj Branch 1, was sentenced to five years imprisonment.

From that time until 13 April 2010, that I was arrested and beaten in a domestic church in Karaj, repeatedly, summoned to Intelligence ministry offices and related buildings in Tehran, Karaj, and Rasht and interrogated. In the Wednesday afternoon of 13 April 2010, we were in a domestic church doing the religious ceremonies, and suddenly faced the armed forces attack.

One of them asked my name and when realized that I am Behnam Irani, beat and pushed me on the ground, and tied my hands behind the head, and directly transferred to Section 8 of Rajaei Shahr prison known as Sepah section. I was under interrogation for 77 days and in revolutionary court, the judge Ensafdoost explained the arraignment of my accusation for unfair propaganda against the regime. However, at the same time a number of other servants to the church were also arrested. I was released after 77 days on 100 million Toman bail, in 28 June,2010. I was detained again on 22 Jan. 2010,  in revolutionary court branch 9 leading by Ensafdoost for Blasphemy publication charges on a 20 million bail, and transferred to Rajaei Shahr prison Section 8, but 3 days later after 11 pm suddenly they took me out from the cell and said  that I am free.
Eventually, for the detain on 13 April 2010, by the revolutionary court,  headed by judge Samavati, I was convicted for  8 months imprisonment and sent to the Karaj central penitentiary in 30 May,2011.
I was in the prison when received a proclamation that the 5 years of Suspended imprisonment has been changed to definitive sentence, and I must be imprisoned for other 5 years. It is disappointing that the regime in Iran repeatedly speaks about the freedom of religious minorities in Iran, but its treatment to Christians and especially Persian Christians is tyrannical.

About 1 week ago, after the third reports of Ahmad Shahid which noted the human rights violations in Iran, the representatives of Armenian and Assyrian minorities attended an Iranian TV channel program and claimed that Christian minorities are absolutely free; I expressly state  that such a thing is not true, and the imprisonment of me and many other Persian Christians proves the reality.

I repeatedly sent leave requests, but did not receive any response, and finally with the help of the social assistant office in the prison, I realized that in my profile has been written that based on the judiciary referees I do not have any right like other prisoners.

I want this report to be sent to Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, Reporters Without Borders, Special Rapporteur of the UN Human Rights Council and all human rights organizations and the media.

Human Rights Activists for Democracy in Iran"
2nd Nov. 2012

This report was sent to following organizations:
UN High Commissioner for Human Rights
UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights 
Amnesty International
Reporters Without Borders.

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