UN rights experts call for fair trial of Iranian ChristiansPublished by International Liberty Association on February 3, 2018
Four UN human rights experts have called on Iran to ensure a fair and transparent trial for three Iranian Christians who have been unfairly sentenced to long prison terms for their church related activities.
According to the press release issued by the office of the United Nations Human Rights High Commissioner, the four experts, Ahmed Shaheed, Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief; Asma Jahangir, Special Rapporteur on Iran; Fernand de Varennes, Special Rapporteur on minority issues; and Dainius Pūras, Special Rapporteur on the right to health; in a joint statement said: “We are deeply concerned by the long jail sentences imposed at a previous hearing on Pastor Victor Bet Tamraz, Amin Afshar Naderi and Hadi Asgari for allegedly ‘conducting evangelism’ and ‘illegal house church activities’, and similar charges that, according to the authorities, amount to acting against national security, completely contrary to Iran’s international obligations under the UDHR and the ICCPR”.
“We are additionally concerned about the lack of healthcare made available to them while in detention and, in particular, about the current health condition of Mr. Asgari who remains in prison,” they added.
The three Christians were given jail sentences of 10 years at a previous hearing in July. Mr Naderi received an additional five years for blasphemy.
In the statement the UN experts express concern that the prosecution of the three Christians is not an isolated case. “We are aware of several other reported cases in which members of the Christian minority have received heavy sentences after being charged with ‘threatening national security’, either for converting people or for attending house churches,” they said.
“This shows a disturbing pattern of individuals being targeted because of their religion or beliefs, in this case a religious minority in the country.
“Members of the Christian minority in Iran, particularly those who have converted to the faith, are facing severe discrimination and religious persecution.”