Iranian Christians request prayer for Iranian Armenian Anooshavan Avedian and Christian convert Abbas Souri after their request for a retrial was refused, and also for Christian convert Fariba Dalir, whose application for conditional release or leave from prison has been denied.
Fariba (53) was among six Christians arrested by agents of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) in July 2021. After 38 days in solitary confinement, Fariba was transferred to Qarchak women’s prison in Varamin, near Tehran and temporarily released on bail of 600 million tomans (then about US$ 22000) on 18 November.
On 29 November, Fariba attended a hearing at 26th Branch of the Revolutionary Court and was sentenced initially to five years in prison by judge Iman Afshari, but this was reduced to two years after the judge acknowledged a mistake, supposing her to have had a previous criminal conviction.
Fariba started serving her sentence in Evin Prison on 16 April and after completing one third of her sentence applied for conditional release or temporary leave from prison, but her request has been turned down.
Anooshavan (60) and Abbas (45) were among eighteen Christians present at a gathering on 21 August 2020 in Narmak, North Tehran. Intelligence agents conducted a raid on the house, confiscating Bibles and cell phones and arresting Anooshavan, Abbas, and Maryam Mohammadi (46) who were then transferred to Evin Prison. Abbas and Maryam were kept in solitary confinement for 26 days.
The three Christians were temporarily released on 23 September 2020 after posting bail – Anooshavan posted 1 billion tomans (US$50000) and Abbas and Maryam 500 million tomans (US$25000) each.
In May 2022 Judge Iman Afshari of 26th Branch of the Revolutionary Court sentenced Anooshavan to ten years’ imprisonment for “propaganda contrary to and disturbing to the holy religion of Islam” and deprivation of social rights (e.g. employment opportunities) for an additional ten-year period. Abbas and Maryam each received similar deprivation of social rights for ten years, a fine of 50 million tomans (US$2000), a two-year travel ban and compulsory exile from Tehran.
At an appeal hearing in May, the convictions were upheld. While there was no change in the sentences against Anooshavan, the deprivation of social rights against Abbas and Maryam was cancelled and the fines reduced to 6 million tomans (US$190) each.
Iman Soleimani, the lawyer representing Anooshavan and Abbas, petitioned the Supreme Court for a retrial but the lawyer told Mohabat News on 2 August that the court had rejected the request without comment and failed to review previous submissions for their defence.
Iranian Christians request prayer that:
• God will encourage these Christians as they face disappointment on top of the injustice of their judicial sentences
• Iranian Christians detained on spurious charges related to their faith will be released from prison
• Iranian authorities will stop the harassment and persecution of citizens peacefully practising their religion in Iran