Iran refuses to release Christian prisoners amid release of 85,000 prisoners during coronavirus outbreak

March 25, 2020

Persecution of Christians in Iran: US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has said that “In Iran, the regime’s crackdown on Baha’is, Christians and others continues to shock the conscience.” This article shows that the crackdown is ongoing despite the coronavirus pandemic.

We continue to pray that the international community will take the persecution of Christians in Iran seriously and move to protect the embattled Christians and other religious minorities of that country. Please join us in pray for an end to the persecution of Christians of Iran, that the Christian communities of that country would be protected and strengthened, and that all Iranians would find by God’s grace the full expression in the Holy Orthodox Church of the faith that Iran’s Christians are holding fast to amid so much suffering.

For previous coverage of Iran, see here.

“Iran refuses to release Christian prisoners despite coronavirus outbreak,” by Benjamin Weinthal, Jerusalem Post, March 25, 2020:

BERLIN – Iran’s mullah regime refused on Tuesday to grant a temporary release to four imprisoned Christians amid a release of some 85,000 prisoners, including political prisoners, in an effort to stop the spread of the Middle East’s worst outbreak of the coronavirus.
The religious freedom organization Article18 wrote on its website that, “Four Iranian Christians serving 10-year sentences in Tehran’s Evin prison are being denied temporary release even though their requests for retrials have been accepted.”

According to Article18, the four Iranian Christians being jailed are Yousef Nadarkhani, 42; Mohammad Reza (Yohan) Omidi, 46; Zaman (Saheb) Fadaei, 36; and Nasser Navard Gol-Tapeh, who is 58 years old and suffers from a number of serious health issues.
The religious freedom organization said that the Christians “have made several requests for release on bail since their retrials were accepted in October [except for Gol-Tapeh, whose request for a retrial was accepted in February], and their families are increasingly anxious about them in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak.”

Mansour Borji, the research and advocacy director for the London-based organization, told that, “We at Article18 ask for the immediate and unconditional release of all Christians detained on spurious charges related to their faith or religious activities. This is even more urgent given the current health crisis that threatens these detained Christians and their families back home.

“The international community should also demand that Iran upholds its obligations to guarantee the right to freedom of religion or belief for every citizen, regardless of their ethnic or linguistic background, including converts from other religions,” Borji added.
Alireza Miryousefi, the spokesman for Iran’s mission to the UN, told the news site that, “Decreasing the number of prisoners has been a general policy by Iran’s new head of justice since last year. All Iranians imprisoned for various crimes are judged by the judiciary on an individual basis as to whether they should be released or furloughed on medical grounds or other considerations. Tens of thousands have already been released from prisons. There has been no discrimination on the basis of religion or race.”…