Relaymedia

Iran Freed Christian Pastor and His Wife But Retained Three Other Church Workers in Detention Without Charges

( [email protected] ) May 17, 2016 01:25 PM EDT
An Iranian pastor and his wife were arrested along with three other church workers in a May 13 police raid that reportedly carries no legal basis except of Iran's notoriety against Christians.
Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani was arrested by Iranian authorities along with his wife and three colleagues without legal basis.

An Iranian pastor and his wife were arrested along with three other church workers in a May 13 police raid that reportedly carries no legal basis except that of Iran's notoriety against Christians.

However, the couple was released hours after from custodial investigation. Their three colleagues Yasser Mossayebzadeh, Saheb Fadaie and Mohammadreza Omidi remained detained with no complaint filed, a report by Christian Solidarity Worldwide said.

The report said ten other houses that belonged to Christians were raided on the same day, but authorities took only the couple and their three colleagues.

Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani, of the Church of Iran, was first arrested in 2009 for a crime punishable by death when he questioned the constitutionality of Muslim monopoly on Iranian education. He was upset about the discriminations of his children in their school.

The court had asked him during every hearing of his apostasy case to renounce his faith to avoid death, but Nadarkhani refused. In 2012 he was acquitted of the crime, but not to the second complaint for evangelising Muslims where he got imprisoned for three years.

"Though Nadarkhani and his wife have been freed we remain deeply concerned about the welfare of the three other church workers," the CSW report said. The three have previous detention, and Omidi was among the four Christians sentenced to 80 lashes in 2013 for drinking alcohol in a communion service and for possession of a receiver and satellite antenna.

Iran is notorious for human right abuses, and violence facilitated by laws is rapidly escalating victimizing minority communities such as Christians and Baha'i Muslims, who authorities branded as "illegal cult".

"Iran government must be held to account for its continued harassment to Christian community, and we appeal to them to abide by its constitutional and international human rights obligations," CSW said.