Of Christian faith: Tehran sentences an Armenian-Iranian to 10 years

Anooshavan Avedian, who will be 60 years old tomorrow, will be deprived of "social rights" for another decade upon release from prison. Together with him two other believers, 45 year old Abbas Soori and 46 year old Maryam Mohammadi (both converts from Islam) will be sentenced. Prison confessions were extracted through "psychological torture". 



Tehran (AsiaNews) - An Iranian Christian of Armenian origin is to serve 10 years in prison, following his conviction for professing the faith and promoting teaching to other co-religionists inside his home. According to the court, he was guilty of "propaganda contrary to and offensive to the holy religion of Islam". The sentence against Anooshavan Avedian, who tomorrow will be 60 years old in prison, dates back to last month but was released only in recent days by activists of Article18, a website specialized in documenting the repressions taking place in the country. Together with him, two members of the house church were sentenced: 45-year-old Abbas Soori and 46-year-old Maryam Mohammadi, both converts. 

In addition to prison, once the terms are served the 60-year-old Armenian-Iranian Christian will be "deprived of social rights" for another 10 years. A further punishment that, among others, greatly restricts the possibilities of employment or job search in the Islamic Republic.

Soori and Mohammadi have avoided prison but, they too, are deprived of their rights for a decade and another two years, once the sentence is over, they will not be able to travel abroad, be part of political or social groups and will not be able to reside in Tehran or in the adjacent province. A hard blow for Maryam who runs a business in the capital and has a large local clientele. To this is added a fine of over 1,900 euros and the obligation to sign at the offices of the Ministry of Intelligence (Mois). 

The affair of Anooshavan, Maryam and Abbas dates back to August 2020, when the first arrest took place, but has long remained under wraps. At least 30 intelligence agents raided the house in Narmak, northeast of the capital. At the time of the assault there were about 18 worshippers intent on praying and reading the readings. During the raid, copies of the Bible, personal belongings, cell phones and other computer equipment were confiscated, as well as passwords to smartphones and social networks. In the time between their arrest and conviction, they spent periods in the notorious Evin prison on the outskirts of Tehran, where they were subjected to interrogation, psychological torture and abuse.

The conviction of Anooshavan Avedian is the latest episode in a long series of arrests and convictions of Iranian Christians (and not), in an escalation that experts and activists call "worrying" violations of religious freedom. Local sources report blatant violations of the right to defense, with insults to their persons and to the faith professed during the trial. The only evidence used for the conviction was the report compiled by the intelligence service, which also included "confessions" extracted by force or deception during captivity.

In recent years, thousands of Christians belonging to domestic churches have been arrested by the authorities, and hundreds have been sentenced to prison on the charge of "acting against national security". These events contradict, in fact, the proclamations of Tehran and Iranian diplomatic representations around the world according to which Christians "continue to enjoy religious freedom, to carry out their activities of worship in their churches and to devote themselves to their own programs.