Iran sentences a sixty=year-old man of God, Anooshavan Avedian, to 10 years in prison for hosting a house church worship gathering and was also given 10 years of “deprivation of social rights”.
It has been reported that the Revolutionary Court of Tehran has sentenced an Iranian-Armenian Christian man to 10 years in prison for establishing a house church.
The judge called the house church a “propaganda contrary to and disturbing to the holy religion of Islam.
Branch 26 of the Revolutionary Court of Tehran, headed by Judge Afshari reportedly sentenced the pastor to 10 years of imprisonment. Human Rights Activists News Agency reported that he was sentenced alongside two others who are members of his house church — Abbas Soori, 45, and Maryam Mohammadi, 46 — both of whom are converts to Christianity.
In Tehran’s Evin Prison, the three were subjected to psychological torture during several intense interrogation sessions.
They were first arrested in August 2020 when about 30 intelligence agents raided a private gathering at Avedian’s home in Narmak are in northeastern Tehran, but their case came to light only recently.
Article 18, a United Kingdom based organization that promotes religious freedom in Iran, reported that Soori and Mohammadi received a range of non-custodial punishments, including a fine of about $2,000 (500 million rials) and a 10-year ban from membership in social and political groups as well as a two-year exile outside Tehran. In addition, they must regularly report to the offices of the Ministry of Intelligence.
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The three were convicted on the charge of “organizing and running an Evangelical ‘Zionist’ home church with the intention to act against national security” and “maintaining satellite dish and receivers”.
The agents confiscated all the Bibles and communication devices with passwords.
Judge Afshari pronounced Avedian guilty of establishing and leading an illegal group with the aim of disrupting the security of the country through educational and propaganda activities contrary to and disturbing to the holy religion of Islam. The judge said he does these through the dissemination of false claims, as well as contact with foreign countries, or organisational guidance from abroad.
Article 18 said the Christians’ defense was met with “disrespectful remarks toward their character, and insults to their faith”. It reported further that over the past decade, authorities in Iran have closed down nearly all churches that offered services in Persian, the national language, or insisted they teach only in the ethnic minority languages.
Open Doors USA’s World Watch List said the Islamic Republic is ranked as the ninth-worst country in the world when it comes to Christian persecution.
Open Doors averred that: “Converts from Islam to Christianity are most at risk of persecution, especially by the government and to a lesser extent by society and their own families. The government sees the growth of the church in Iran as an attempt by Western countries to undermine Islam and the Islamic regime of Iran. House groups made up of converts from Muslim backgrounds are often raided, and both their leaders and members have been arrested, prosecuted, and given long prison sentences for “crimes against national security.”