Date: May 14, 2013
By Joseph DeCaro, BosNewsLife International Correspondent
TEHRAN, IRAN (BosNewsLife)– A new report by Iranian activists says "many" Christian activities have been "criminalized" by Iran's leadership.
The report by the 'International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran' group found that Christian converts and members of unregistered churches can face "extrajudicial punishment and even execution" for "apostasy", the word used for abandoning Islam.
Iran's government denies wrongdoing, saying it respects the rights of religious minorities. However the Islamic Republic "hasn't permitted a single new church to be built" since its Revolution, said the report obtained Saturday, May 11.
Instead, "many churches" have been closed as attendance is restricted, members are monitored and their Bibles and other religious literature are routinely confiscated, according to investigators.
The report also noted a "systematic pattern of arbitrary arrest and detention" allegedly to protest "state security."
AMERICAN PASTOR JAILED
Investigators mentioned Iranian-American pastor Saeed Abedini, who was sentenced to eight years imprisonment for planting house churches that officials claimed were "intended to undermine national security" by turning Iranian youth away from Islam.
When detained, Christians are often held without charges, denied access to proper legal advice and are ill-treated, the report said.
Iranian rights activists have accused Iran of violating international treaties it signed, including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
"The egregious violations of Christians’ rights include not only the inability to freely practice their religion, but also the threat of torture and death at the hands of state officials," said Hadi Ghaemi, executive director of International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran.
These practices "go against all international law," he stressed in a statement seen by BosNewsLife's news partner Worthy News. "The international community must let the Iranian government know this is unacceptable," Ghaemi added.