Execution, imprisonment of two Christians to be determined *Iranian convert asylum seeker scalded in Turkey

February 11, 2012 by  
Filed under newsletter-asia, Persecution, USA, World

Execution,Imprisonment of Two Christians may be Determined Next WeekUnited States of America, February 11, 2012: Next week, two Christian men – one in Iran and the other in Algeria – are scheduled to plead their innocence one last time in court. The judge presiding over each case will reexamine their crimes and decide whether or not to uphold the court’s initial verdict. For the Algerian, next week could be the start of a five year prison sentence. For the Iranian, it could mean his execution by hanging.

Youcef Nadarkhani, the pastor of a house church in Rasht, Iran, was arrested in October 2009 for opposing the education practice that forces non-Muslim students to read the Quran in school. Nadarkhani had argued that the Iranian constitution permits children to be raised in their parents’ faith rather than in accord with the State-institutionalized religion. For defying Iranian authorities, Nadarkhani was charged with apostasy.

Jason DeMars, president of Present Truth Ministries, said that Iranian officials used pressure tactics during Nadarkhani’s imprisonment as an attempt to coerce him to renounce his Christian beliefs, which included arresting his wife and threatening to seize his children.

On September 22, 2010, Nadarkhani was issued the death sentence for his conversion to Christianity and for inciting the conversions of other Muslims. Nadarkhani appealed the decision to the Supreme Court of Iran, claiming he had never been a Muslim and therefore could not be found guilty of apostasy. However, a written verdict upholding the death penalty and ordering an investigation was handed down on June 12. A reexamination of the case to determine whether Nadarkhani will live or die will be held on Sunday, September 25.

“If [Youcef Nadarkhani] is found to have been a Muslim before his conversion, the court can carry out his execution,” said Tiffany Barrans, the International Legal Director at the American Center for Law and Justice.

Less extreme but also significant is the trial of Siagh Krimo. Krimo was arrested in Oran, Algeria on April 14, 2011 for giving a CD about Christianity to his neighbor. On May 4, he was given a five year prison sentence for blasphemy based on Article 144 bis 2 of the Penal Code. Krimo appealed the decision, and like Nadarkhani, will have his sentence reexamined next week. His final verdict is expected to be handed down on September 29.

“Siagh Krimo is in stress and anxiety over his wife and their beautiful baby girl,” an Algerian church leader and a friend of Krimo’s, who for security reasons will remain anonymous, told International Christian Concern. “Their whole life was turned upside down overnight just for preaching the gospel to a Muslim.”

Human rights organizations and religious freedom commissions have appealed to the U.S. government to intervene immediately and decisively on behalf of the two Christians.

“Time is of the essence here. This man’s [Nadarkhani] life is at stake,” said Leonard Leo, chairman of the U.S. Commission for International Religious Freedom, an independent, bipartisan U.S. federal government commission. “We call upon our government and the international community to press for his release and ensure that Iran takes no extreme action in this case or in others like it.”

“International pressure impacts Iran, and the regime has shown leniency in some cases where there is international scrutiny,” Leo continued.

While the U.S. does not have a diplomatic relationship with Iran, it can call on other countries that do to pressure the Iranian government to adhere to international human rights standards. As for Algeria, the U.S. State Department said in its report on International Religious Freedom that it is U.S. policy to engage the Algerian government on religious freedom concerns.

At a press conference marking the report’s release on September 13, Secretary Clinton said that “the protection of religious freedom is a fundamental concern of the United States going back to the earliest days of our republic, and it remains so today.” Human rights advocates commend the stance expressed by the Obama administration to defend religious freedom and hope that everything that can possibly be done is being done for the complete and immediate acquittals of Youcef Nadarkhani and Siagh Krimo.

– aidan clay

Iranian convert asylum seeker scalded in Turkey

 

Yousef Fallah RanjbarFebruary 02, 2012: A persecuted Iranian convert to Christianity who was forced to flee his homeland was beaten and scalded with hot water by his employer in Turkey, where he has been seeking asylum. Yousef Fallah Ranjbar left Iran in December 2008 because of the problems he was experiencing as a result of his Christian faith. He, like many other Iranian converts, sought refuge through the United Nations’ Refugee Agency (UNHCR) in Ankara, Turkey.Yousef has faced many setbacks in his case, throughout which he has been continuously working 14-hour days, doing hard labour in tough conditions, for a maximum of 20 Turkish Liras (£7).
He has continued to face persecution. Yousef’s Turkish employer took exception to his Christian faith and has repeatedly denied him his pay as a result.

On one occasion, after Yousef had asked for his pay several times, the employer and several other workers attacked him; they beat him and poured hot water over him, causing severe scalding on his back.

Yousef reported the incident to the police and the case was pursued. But the trial has been postponed because the employer failed to appear for the hearing.

“One example of hundreds”
According to Iranian Christian news agency Mohabat News, Yousef is “just one example of hundreds of Iranian Christian asylum seekers who are living in such situations in Turkey”.

Yousef is still awaiting a decision on his asylum case after a series of delays and interviews and an appeal. Mohabat News said that interviewers and decision-makers at UNHCR fail to understand the danger facing converts to Christianity in Iran and so often turn down their asylum appeals.

Iranian converts live under the constant threat of arrest, imprisonment, torture and possibly even death, as numerous cases have shown.

Most recently, on 18 January, convert Leila Mohammadi was jailed for two years having been declared guilty of “broad anti-Islamic propaganda, deceiving citizens by formation of what is called a house church, insulting sacred figures and action against national security”.

– barnabas team

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