Authorities in Iran arrested four Christians last week for their involvement with home churches and confined them to the country’s notorious Evin Prison in Tehran.
In the case of Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani, plainclothes police came to his home in Rasht on June 22 and tasered him and his son Danial, World Watch Monitor reported.
“The officers asked for Youcef,” Kiaa Aalipour of the London-based advocacy organization Article 18 told World Watch Monitor. “When Danial wanted to call his father the officers attacked him with an electroshock weapon and incapacitated Danial. When Pastor Youcef came, they also attacked him with an electroshock weapon. Then Pastor Youcef was beaten up by the forces, despite the fact that neither he, nor his son, had offered any resistance.”
Nadarkhani was placed in a “quarantine ward” of the prison used for punishment, according to Middle East Concern. Christian Solidarity Worldwide condemned the “excessive force” and “unwarranted violence aimed at his son.”
Authorities took three other Christians—Saheb Fadaie, Yasser Mossayebzadeh, and Mohammad Reza Omidi—to prison without violence last Tuesday and Wednesday.
After losing prior appeals, all four converts to Christianity were awaiting a typical summons to begin prison terms for “acting against national security,” “promoting Zionist Christianity,” and running “house churches.” Arrested in 2016, a court convicted the four in July 2017 and sentenced them to more than the maximum sentence for national security crimes. The court also sentenced Nadarkhani and Omidi to two years internal exile in Southern Iran.
Nadarkhani is one of the most well-known Iranian Christians because of a prior conviction for “apostasy.” He served three years on death row before a campaign by international advocacy groups led to his acquittal and release in 2012.
Religious freedom in Iran continued deteriorating in 2017, according to the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom’s recent report. In particular, the organization noted harsher sentences against Christians.
Open Doors ranks Iran the 10th most difficult country in the world for Christians and says Muslims who convert to Christianity suffer the worst persecution. —Julia A. Seymour