Pastor beaten and returned to prison in Iran

May 30, 2014 by  
Filed under newsletter-asia

Iran, May 28, 2014: Imprisoned pastor Saeed Abedini has been beaten and forcibly returned to jail from hospital in Iran, while another prisoner, Vahid Hakkani, has ended his hunger strike.

Pastor Saeed AbediniSaeed had spent two months in hospital, recovering from injuries sustained in past beatings. The Iranian-American pastor’s transfer back to Rajai Shahr prison came without warning, and his family in Iran have said that he was “severely beaten” during the move. Saeed’s wife, Naghmeh, said:

This is an extremely disappointing development – one that breaks my heart. Our family is deeply saddened and we continue to pray for Saeed – for his safety and his release.

When Saeed first arrived at the hospital, in March, he was shackled, and guards violently lashed out at him. His treatment later improved, however; his family were allowed to visit him, and he was provided with nutritious meals.

Saeed was transferred to Rajai Shahr, one of the deadliest prisons in the world, from Evin prison, another notorious institution, in November 2013. Saeed, who is serving an eight-year prison sentence for planting house churches, was initially confined to a ward for murderers but was later moved to one for political prisoners.

CHRISTIAN PRISONER CONDITIONALLY RELEASED

Meanwhile, Vahid Hakkani has ended his hunger strike following the conditional release of fellow Christian prisoner Mohammed-Reza Partoei, also known as Kourosh.

Vahid began the strike on 20 March to protest against the authorities’ refusal to grant him, Kourosh and their two Christian co-accused, Mojtaba Seyyed-Alaedin Hossein and Homayoun Shokouhi, conditional release. Before Kourosh was freed, Vahid refused to give in despite being put in solitary confinement and denied contact with his family. Vahid, who has previously suffered internal bleeding caused by a digestive system problem, was taken to the prison’s medical clinic in a critical condition.

The believers were jailed for three years and eight months for convictions relating to their Christian activities. Iranian law allows for those who have completed half their sentences to be conditionally released, but all four prisoners were initially denied this. Kourosh’s family pursued his case for four months prior to his release.

During their incarceration at Adel-Abad prison, the believers have been held in Ebrat (“Edification”) ward, the institution’s least-equipped ward.

It remains unclear what has happened to six other Christians who were rounded up at a house-church meeting on 18 April. Ehsan Sadeghi, Nazi Irani, Maryam Assadi, Ali Arfa’e, Vahid Safi and Amin Mazloomi still have not been charged, and a reason has not been given for their arrest. Their families have been told only that their loved ones are in the custody of the intelligence division of a military organisation. They were that they cannot contact the detainees until the investigation is complete, although Amin Mazloomi’s family were able briefly to speak with him.

During the raid on the meeting, plain-clothes officials intimidated those present and searched the property, confiscating Christian books and other educational material.

– barnabas team

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