On 30 August MEC requested prayer for Iranian Christians ordered to present themselves at Evin Prison for their sentences to be carried out. Since then, Iranian-Armenian pastor Joseph Shahbazian has started serving his 10-year prison sentence and Christian convert Malihe Nazari is in the temporary quarantine section of Evin Prison, sentenced to six years’ imprisonment. Another Christian convert, Mina Khajavi, has been granted a temporary reprieve while she recovers from a broken leg.
These three Christians were among many arrested as part of an extensive operation carried out against members of house-churches by agents from the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) in June 2020. Seven Christians were ultimately prosecuted for “forming and operating illegal organisations [house-churches] with the aim of disrupting the security of the country” and convicted on 7 June 2022.
Four Christian converts – Somayeh (Sonya) Sedegh, her mother Masoumeh Ghasemi, Farhad Khazaee, Salar Eshraghi Moghadam – were given custodial sentences of between one and four years but these were converted to fines. Mina Khajavi (59) and Malihe Nazari (48) were each sentenced to six years’ imprisonment. Joseph (58) was sentenced to 10 years’ imprisonment plus a two-year period of exile in the remote southeast of Iran, as well as a two-year ban on travelling abroad or membership of any social or political group.
Joseph started serving his sentence on 30 August after receiving a summons the previous day. Mina has received a temporary stay of her six-year sentence providing she submits a doctor’s report allowing for a period of recovery from a broken leg.
Prayer is requested that:
- Joseph and Malihe will know God’s encouragement and strengthening in detention and adjust to life in Evin Prison
- Mina’s leg will mend well
- Iran will stop persecuting their citizens on account of their faith or belief and that prisoners like Joseph and Malihe will be released