Last month, intelligence agents detained Mohammad Golbaz, a 34-year-old Christian convert, while he was working in his motorcycle repair shop in the northern city of Karaj.
His captors locked him up and only allowed him to briefly call his parents. To this day there is still no news of him and according to the local prosecutor’s office, he will remain detained “for a while”, considering him an “apostate” reported the organization for the defense of religion.
Another similar case is that of Anooshavan Avedia, 60, accused of “propaganda contrary to and disturbing the sacred religion of Islam.” Two members of his house church, Abbas Soori, 45, and Maryam Mohammadi, 46, also had their requests for trial review rejected. His sentences include two years of exile in another part of the country and “deprivation of social rights”, which will affect his employment opportunities. All this collected in article 18 of the law in Iran. To these Christians, three others recently sent to prison are added. Joseph Shahbazian, 58, Mina Khajavi, 59, and Malihe Nazari, 48, were sentenced to a total of 22 years in prison, charged with organizing and establishing house churches with “the intent to disrupt national security.” .
Those who attended the trials state that: “they are dismayed by the testimonies of violations of due process that took place in the courtrooms, including humiliating comments by the judge, the unacknowledged favor of the court towards the part of the prosecutor over that of the accused, the occasional lack of access to counsel and verdicts delivered in less than 10 days clearly without sufficient consideration of the evidence.”
The Christian converts are unable to join any of Iran’s four Persian-speaking churches that have remained open and are forced to gather for worship in their homes, in hiding.