Christian leader on dialysis temporarily freed after Christmas arrest

January 15, 2013 by  
Filed under newsletter-world

The Rev. Vruir Avanessian

The Rev. Vruir Avanessian

Iran: A seriously ill Christian leader who was detained during a raid on a house-church Christmas gathering in Iran has been temporarily released.

The Rev. Vruir Avanessian, who has chronic kidney disease for which he requires dialysis three times a week, was taken into custody on 27 December.

On Thursday 10 January, he was temporarily freed after posting bail worth around US$60,000. He had been subjected to frequent interrogation during his 15 days behind bars at the notorious Evin Prison.

The 60-year-old Armenian Iranian is in poor health: in addition to the kidney failure, he has serious heart disease, for which he has undergone several operations, and is diabetic.

During his time in custody, Avanessian was taken to hospital for his dialysis treatment.

No charges have yet been brought against him, but it seems likely that his arrest was related to his connection with converts from Islam to Christianity in Iran. He was arrested at a gathering of around 50 converts at a home in Tehran.

It was raided by 15 security officers who claimed to be responding to a complaint by neighbours about the noise.

They told every participant to fill in a form, which required personal contact information and the username and passwords for their email and social media accounts. The converts were also asked about how they came to faith in Christ; their involvement with house churches; their travels to other countries for the purposes of meeting other Christians; their core beliefs and why they had left Islam; and their views about the Islamic Republic of Iran and the regime’s foreign policies.

They were all released after completing the forms but told that they would later be summoned individually to the local security branch office.

Avanessian’s home was subsequently raided by security officers, who ransacked the property and confiscated Bibles, books, a computer, CDs and worship albums composed by the Christian leader. The homes of several families with suspected links to him were also raided; several laptops and other pieces of computer equipment were seized as well as books and Christian literature.

Avanessian was the worship leader of the Assemblies of God (AOG) Church in Tehran before becoming a pastor. He retired from full-time ministry several years ago owing to his poor health.

His worship albums, which he produced in the Farsi and Armenian languages, are well-known within these Christian communities.

– barnabas team

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