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Iran: Christian Prisoner Physically Abused in Rajai Shahr Prison

Ebrahim-Firouzi-mohabatnews

Ebrahim Firouzi, a Christian prisoner in Rajai Shahr Prison in Iran, has suffered physical abuse at the hands of prison guards when he was forced to attend an appeal hearing.

On 21st August 2013 Ebrahim was arrested with two friends during a raid by plain-clothed security officers. He had also been detained in 2011 and earlier in 2013 because of his Christian activities. The other two believers were released on bail after several months. On 2nd October 2014 Ebrahim was relocated from Evin Prison in Tehran to Rajai Shahr Prison near Karaj. He was due for release on 13th January 2015 but was kept in detention, re-tried on 5th March 2015 and charged with “acting against national security, gathering and collusion”. At the end of April 2015 Ebrahim was sentenced to five years in prison. He is in a ward with potentially dangerous criminals and last year went on hunger strike to protest against these conditions.

On 13th July Ebrahim was summoned to attend an appeal hearing, but he refused to go as he was under the impression that it was sufficient for his lawyer to attend the hearing. Because of his refusal he was beaten by prison guards and forcibly taken to court. One of the presiding judges was absent however, and the appeal has been postponed until November.

Ebrahim’s mother appealed for Ebrahim’s release in a video published by the Human Rights Activists News Agency.

In March Ebrahim was able to release a call to prayer, noting God’s promises to those who remain faithful to him and asking for prayer for himself to stand strong in the face of persecution. He said:

“Jesus is our example; the Saviour who came among us to be crucified and save us. We sometimes have to sacrifice our freedom to live in God’s love, so I can’t think only about myself when there are so many believers suffering persecution.”

Please continue to pray for Ebrahim, asking that:
a. God will keep Ebrahim in His love and strengthen and encourage him despite the abuse and lack of freedom
b. he will be in good health and aware of God’s abounding love to him in Jesus
c. he will be released soon
d. the prison officials will love mercy, act justly, learn about Jesus and choose to follow Him

 

Middle East Concern

IRANIAN CHRISTIAN PRISONER, FARSHID FATHI, GIVEN EARLY RELEASE DATE

Pastor Farshid Fathi in Evin prison for Christian faith

Pastor Farshid Fathi in Iranian prison for Christian faith

KARAJ, IRAN (ANS – July 7, 2015) — Iranian Christian prisoner, Pastor Farshid Fathi, has been told the good news by prison officials, that he will be released on December 10, 2015. He had previously expected to remain in prison until December 2017.

“Farshid received the official notification on July 4, 2015,” said a spokesperson for Elam Ministries UK (www.elam.com).  “This is positive news, which has greatly encouraged Farshid and his family. We join them in praising God for this development, and for those who have made it possible.

“Please continue to pray for Farshid during his final months in Rajai Shahr prison, Iran.”

Farshid Fathi is incarcerated in Iran’s brutal Rajai Shahr prison, just outside of Karaj, for the “crime” of practicing his Christian faith and ministry work, and he is being held in the same prison as Iranian-American Christian Pastor, Saeed Abedini, is being held and who is serving Saeed Abedini on an eight-year sentence for his Christian faith.

According to Elam Ministries UK, Farshid’s friends invariably have describe him as loving, cheerful, selfless and faithful, and always eager to help and serve others. He became a Christian at age 17 and has always been passionate about his faith. He is married with two young children, Rosanna and Bardia.

He was arrested at his home in Tehran on December 26, 2010, by agents of the Intelligence Ministry and initially was taken to the infamous Evin Prison in northwestern Tehran, where up until February 2011, he was held in solitary confinement and was subjected to long, harsh, interrogation sessions on a regular basis. Then for a year, he was held in a small cell with one other person in Section 209 of the prison where prisoners have been held both before and after the 1979 Islamic Revolution, and where, due to the number of intellectuals that the prison housed, it was nicknamed “Evin University”.

Finally, on February 5, 2012, Farshid is brought to trial at Branch 15 of the Revolutionary Court in Tehran, and is convicted by Judge Salavati of “action against the national security’, through cooperating with foreign organizations and evangelism”, and sentenced to a total of six years’ imprisonment. He is then moved to section 350 of Evin.

Then, on May 23, 2012, Farshid’s appeal hearing occurs and the following month, a verdict is issued: it upholds the verdict of the February court.

Because of the danger to themselves, Farshid’s family are soon safely resettled to Canada where they had been offered refuge, and on December 26, 2013, A Day of Prayer for Farshid was held around the world on the third anniversary of his imprisonment.

On August 19, 2014, Farshid was transferred to Rajai Shahr prison in Karaj, for unknown reasons, and the following month, he spends his 35th birthday in the prison, and then on then on December 26, 2014, another Day of Prayer for Farshid was held on the fourth anniversary of his imprisonment, but during that month, he was hauled before the court and sentenced to a further year in prison on false charges and he lawyer applied to appeal.

But now has come the welcome news that he will be released on December 20, 2015, two years earlier than expected.

About Elam Ministries UK:

Elam was founded in 1990 by senior Iranian church leaders with a vision to serve the growing church in the Iran region. From the beginning, Elam’s passion was to train and equip Iranian Christians to reach and disciple their countrymen. In 1990 six emerging leaders arrived in England from Iran to begin their fulltime ministry training. They lived in a small, two-bedroom flat and used the kitchen as a classroom. Since then, Elam has seen many years of God’s faithfulness. By God’s grace, the ministry is growing and is being used to strengthen and expand the church in the Iran region in a significant way.

Iran: Closed Land, Open Hearts

Elam says that since the 1979 Islamic revolution, Iranians have become increasingly disillusioned with Islam. The political, economic, and spiritual situation in Iran has resulted in a deep spiritual hunger for truth. Iran may be a closed land, but the people have open hearts. Iranians today are seen as the most open Muslim people to the Gospel in the world. More have become Christians since the revolution than the previous 1,300 years put together.

Unprecedented Church Growth

In 1979, there were less than 500 known Christians from a Muslim background in Iran. Today the most conservative estimate is that there are at least 360,000 believers in the nation. Church leaders believe that millions can be added to the church in the next few years-such is the spiritual hunger that exists and the disillusionment with the Islamic regime. If we remain faithful to our calling, our conviction is that it is possible to see the nation transformed within our lifetime. Because Iran is a strategic gateway nation, the growing church in Iran will impact Muslim nations across the Islamic world.

By Dan Wooding, Founder of ASSIST Ministries and the ASSIST News Service

VOP Note: Continue to pray for Pastor Fathi. And pray for the release of Pastor Saeed Abedini who is also being held in Rajai Shahr prison. May they shine God’s light in this dark place.

Authorities in Iran Raid Christians’ Homes, Ask Them to Leave Country

Rajai-Shahr Prison in Karaj, outside Tehran. (Wikipedia)

Rajai-Shahr Prison in Karaj, outside Tehran. (Wikipedia)

(Morning Star News) – A Christian in Iran who received 80 lashes for drinking communion wine has been asked to leave the country, human right activists said.

Agents from the Iranian intelligence service, known as VEVAK, on Feb. 16 raided the home of Mehdi Reza Omidi and two other members of house churches in Rasht, Saheb Fadaie and Yasser Mosayebzadeh, according to Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW), a United Kingdom-based advocacy group. Omidi was one of four men sentenced on Oct. 6, 2013 to 80 lashes for drinking communion wine and owning a satellite antenna. Rights advocates believe the flogging was carried out within a month after sentencing.

After the Feb. 16 raids on the homes of Omidi and the two others, authorities ordered the three Christians to report the next day for questioning, where officials asked them to leave Iran.

The agents also confiscated their Bibles, laptops, Christian CDs and religious literature, according to CSW. Kiri Kankhwende, press officer for CSW, said authorities asking Christians to leave the country is just one of the many ways the government pressures religious minorities and suppresses Christian growth. Other ways include harassment, confiscation of property, arrests and imprisonment on false charges.

“All of these things are designed to get converts to recant or stop their involvement with churches,” Kankhwende said. “But sometimes it is easier, as prison sentences can result in a lot of unwanted press attention, to make the lives of Christians difficult and untenable, so that they choose to leave of their own accord. Sometimes veiled threats are made, or other times – as is the case here – they can be politely asked to leave.”

The impetus for the raids remains unknown. Omidi was detained previously on Dec. 31, 2012, for his involvement in a house church.

On the same day the raid took place, authorities released Rasoul Abdollahi from Rajai Shahr Prison in Karaj, according to Middle East Concern (MEC), another advocacy group. Officials, however, placed strict conditions on Abdollahi, a convert from Islam, including prohibiting him from participating in Christian activities with others. If he violates any of the terms of his release, he could be forced to serve the one year left on his sentence.

Authorities arrested Abdollahi on Dec. 26, 2010, along with a group of other Christians. In December 2013, he was sentenced to three years in prison on convictions of “collusion against the government” and evangelism. He was sent to Evin Prison, but in October 2014 officials transferred him to Rajai Shahr Prison in Karaj.

The release resembles the conditional release authorities gave to Vahid Hakkani. On Jan. 26, after holding him for three years, Iranian authorities released Hakkani from Adel-Abad prison in Shiraz. According to MEC, the Revolutionary Court made Hakkani sign a document stating that he would not attend or host any Christian-related activities or house-church services. A condition for issuing his release order was that he would sign the disclaimer.

Previously, Hakkani engaged in a hunger strike starting on March 20, 2014, after authorities denied him a conditional release that inmates are eligible to obtain after completing half their prison terms.

Authorities arrested Hakkani on Feb. 8, 2012, along with several others at a house-church meeting, and charged him with numerous criminal offenses related to his faith. Hakkani was tried with three others over the course of two court hearings, one on Oct. 15, 2012 and another on Dec. 28, 2012. In June 2013, the Shiraz Revolutionary Court issued a verdict, finding all four guilty on charges of attending a house church, spreading Christianity, having contact with foreign ministries, propaganda against the regime and disrupting national security, according to advocacy groups.

Another pastor, Behnam Irani, who is serving a six-year sentence, last month was refused the same conditional release granted to Abdollahi and Hakkani. According to CSW, prison authorities agreed to Irani’s conditional release, but a judge did not.

Jason Demars, president of Present Truth Ministries, said that it is common for Iranian authorities to force Christians to sign agreements to refrain from Christian activities when they are granted an early release.

“A lot of the times when they let them out, they have them promise that they won’t engage in the activities like they did before,” Demars said.

Demars said it is possible that the Iranian government tried to get Irani to sign such an agreement to be released, which he likely refused. Demars is trying to confirm this with sources in Iran.

On Oct. 19, 2014, Irani was sentenced to six years in prison for “action against national security” and “creating a network to overthrow the system,” catch-all terms the Islamist government uses to suppress Christians and political opponents it perceives as threats. When the verdict was handed down, Irani was already serving the remainder of a prior five-year sentence for his involvement with house churches.

Irani, a convert from Islam, had originally been charged with “Mofsed-fel-arz” or “spreading corruption on Earth,” which carries the death penalty. But those charges were reduced on Oct. 2.

Lead pastor of the church in Karaj, Irani was first arrested in 2006 for evangelizing and holding house-church meetings. He was released on bail in January 2007. In February 2008 a court sentenced him to five years in prison but immediately suspended the sentence, essentially giving him five years of probation.

Irani continued his work and was arrested again on April 14, 2010. Authorities charged him with spreading Christianity, attending house-church meetings and committing other crimes against “national security.” He was released on bail in June 2010.

In January 2011, Irani was convicted and ordered to serve a one-year sentence in prison. But on May 31, 2011, when he showed up to start serving his sentence, he was informed that the suspension on the five-year sentence had been revoked.

VOP Prayer Request:

  • Please pray for Iranian Christian converts who are facing increased pressure.
  • Pray for pastors of ‘house churches’ to remain bold for Christ to continue sharing the Gospel in Iran.
  • Pray for those imprisoned such as Pastor Benham Irani mentioned above and Pastor Saeed Abedini.
  • Pray for their families to remain strong in their absence.

Pastor Saeed Alive! Now Being Held in Deadly Iranian Prison- Iranian Family Allowed Visitation

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For the first time since he was abruptly transferred from Evin Prison to Rajai Shahr Prison earlier this month, American Pastor Saeed Abedini was allowed visitation with his Iranian family.

This is a positive sign that international pressure continues to work to keep Pastor Saeed alive. Pastor Saeed’s Iranian family has, for the past two weeks since his transfer, been prevented from visiting him – something they had previously been permitted to do once a week during his imprisonment in Evin Prison.

It is also the first physical confirmation of Pastor Saeed’s condition and life since his transfer to the brutal prison.

Pastor Saeed remains in the violent criminal ward – Ward 3 – of Rajai Shahr, sharing a 3 meter by 3 meter cell with other prisoners. This particular ward of the deadly prison holds some of the worst criminals in Iran – murderers and rapists.

International human rights organizations have reported that prisoner on prisoner violence, including murder, is routine at Rajai Shahr Prison.

Pastor Saeed’s situation remains dire. However, we are encouraged that his Iranian family was allowed visitation – and that his Iranian family was able to see him face-to-face and communicate with him. Pastor Saeed, however, has yet to receive the medication he has been prescribed for internal injuries suffered at the hands of his captors.

We believe that prayer and strong international pressure – the outcry of hundreds of thousands of people around the world – are keeping Pastor Saeed alive.

Last week the U.S. Senate unanimously passed a bipartisan resolution calling for the release of this U.S. citizen and key members of the European Parliament wrote a letter raising Pastor Saeed’s case.

A similar resolution is pending in the U.S. House of Representatives. The House Foreign Affairs Committee has announced that it will take up the resolution (H. Res. 147) this Wednesday. These statements, resolutions, and letters from U.S. and international government leaders are key to Pastor Saeed’s case.

We must not allow him to be forgotten. We must not allow him to disappear.

We continue to urge President Obama – who has previously directly spoken out about Pastor Saeed’s case – and the U.S. State Department to reengage this issue at the highest levels. As international negotiations continue with Iran regarding its nuclear program, Pastor Saeed’s freedom must be a chief concern. Human rights and specifically religious freedom – the first freedom – is a critical step forward for any nation on the world stage.

The time is NOW for Iran to release Pastor Saeed.

Add your name to the hundreds of thousands calling for Pastor Saeed’s release at BeHeardProject.com.

ACLJ

Prayer Request for Saeed Abedini – Vision Beyond Borders

Saeed-Abedini-PrayPlease pray for Saeed Abedini who remains in prison in Iran. He was just  moved earlier this week from Evin prison in Tehran to Rajai Shahr prison.

This is a terrible move for Saeed and he is in much greater danger there than  he even was while he was in Evin prison. Rajai Shahr is the place they send  prisoners who are seen as a nuisance. Bijnen, an expert on the prisons in Iran  said, “Going to Karaj is a severe punishment. Once in there one stops to be a  human being. One is put out of sight, even of human rights activists and the  press. In Rajaï Shahr, political prisoners have to share cells with dangerous  criminals like murderers, rapists and drug addicts who don’t hesitate to attack  their cell mates. They have nothing to lose: many of them are condemned to death  anyway. Murders or unexplained deaths are a regular occurrence.” Please uphold  Saeed in your prayers during this terribly difficult time.

In addition, please pray for Saeed’s wife and children. As you can imagine,  they have been devastated by this latest development. She recently wrote the  following message: “Yesterday when I heard Saeed’s news of being transferred to  Rajaei Shahr prison, I fell to my knees crying uncontrollably. Feeling so weak  and worn. I felt that this was the blow that I couldn’t recover from. I Didn’t  have the strength to stand up or speak a word. The kids immediately came to my  mind. Their innocent faces as they waited for Saeed’s return. Saeed’s face raced  before my eyes. The pains and tortures he must be enduring. Defenseless in the  hands of the radicals. I knew I had to get back up again and fight for his life.  Relying on my faith in Jesus Christ and the prayers and support of all of you  surrounding me, I am up by His Grace. Knowing that more now than ever we have to  raise our voices together. We have to pray. We have to take action against this  injustice.”

Please join with us in upholding Saeed and his family in prayer!!

[Kirk Cameron shared this prayer request from Vision Without Borders’ November 8,  2013 email newsletter. Find more from Vision Without Borders here.]

 

Jordan Sekulow on Fox News to Discuss an Update Pastor Saeed

Sign the NEW petition to urge President Obama to take immediate and decisive diplomatic action for his freedom. Time is of the essence!

SIGN HERE

SAEED ABEDINI TRENDING! Help Keep The Attention On His Case #SaveSaeed

Saeed Trending
Saeed is number 9 on things that are trending on Yahoo! Let’s keep tweeting and sharing about Saeed!

American Pastor Saeed Abedini was moved from Evin Prison in Tehran to Rajai Shahr Prison in Karaj – an even more dangerous prison where he faces life-threatening conditions and treatment. Many are sent there to disappear, or even be killed!

Join the cause let’s keep pressing on until Saeed is back home with his wife and kids where he belongs. Constant prayer but also constant actions. He is our brother in Christ and when your family is in danger you keep pressing on for their safety.  #SaveSaeed

Sign the NEW petition to urge President Obama to take immediate and decisive diplomatic action for his freedom. Time is of the essence!

SIGN HERE

URGENT UPDATE: American Pastor Saeed- LIFE IN DANGER! – President Obama Must Step In To #SaveSaeed

pastor-saeed-danger

There’s been a very troubling development in the case of American Pastor Saeed Abedini, a U.S. citizen imprisoned in Iran because of his Christian faith.

The ACLJ has confirmed through Pastor Saeed’s family members in Iran that he has been moved from Evin Prison in Tehran to Rajai Shahr Prison in Karaj – an even more dangerous prison where he faces life-threatening conditions and treatment.

A member of Pastor Saeed’s family in Iran arrived at Evin Prison today for the regular weekly visit and was told that Pastor Saeed had been moved to this this prison outside of Tehran yesterday – about an hour and a half drive away. The family member travelled to Rajai Shahr Prison and was told that Pastor Saeed is imprisoned there and is not permitted to have any visitors.

The unexplained and abrupt transfer comes as turmoil intensifies inside Iran where anti-American sentiment was on full display today as hardline opponents of Iran’s President Rouhani’s historic outreach to the United States took to the streets to mark the anniversary of the takeover of the U.S. Embassy in Iran in 1979.

In today’s protests, crowds chanted “death to America” – direct opposition to President Rouhani’s promise of moderation.

The ACLJ has confirmed that Pastor Saeed is now in one of the most dangerous wards of Rajai Shahr Prison – where violent prisoners are held – those who are imprisoned for murder and rape.

In 2005, Loes Bijnen, a Dutch Diplomat from the embassy in Tehran, described Rajai Shahr prison:

“Rajai Shahr is the place where political prisoners who are seen as a nuisance, are stowed away. Going to Karaj is a severe punishment. Once in there one stops to be a human being. One is put out of sight, even of human rights activists and the press. In Rajaï Shahr, political prisoners have to share cells with dangerous criminals like murderers, rapists and drug addicts who don’t hesitate to attack their cell mates. They have nothing to lose: many of them are condemned to death anyway. Murders or unexplained deaths are a regular occurrence.”

The transfer to this prison is a deeply disturbing development and can only be viewed as a move that puts Pastor Saeed’s life directly at risk.

President Obama called Iranian President Rhouani in September – urging him to release Pastor Saeed.

This new and extremely dangerous development requires the full attention and focus of President Obama. He must speak out now – directly and forcefully – to save Pastor Saeed’s life. Pastor Saeed’s life is in grave danger.

There’s wide bi-partisan support for a critical resolution in the Senate calling for Pastor Saeed’s release. And we continue to work to ensure passage of that measure.

But it is critical that President Obama take immediate diplomatic action to save the life of this U.S. citizen.

Send a message to President Obama today. Sign on to our Petition to Immediately Intervene to Save Saeed.

Time is of the essence!

ACLJ

Saeed’s wife, Naghmeh’s new message:

Today Marks day 1 of prayer and fasting. When I asked for prayer and fasting On November 4,5, and 6, I did not anticipate the trials that were coming our way. The Lord had put on my heart that there …is a battle in the spiritual realms and for the body of Christ to come together with prayer and fasting.
This is a spiritual battle.
Saeed’s life is in danger. He was taken from Evin prison to another prison yesterday. This prison is worse than Even. This is where people on death row go (murderers and rapist). Two people have been killed in the last 24 hours in front of Saeed because of the violence in that prison. Saeed’s father is not allowed to see him as of now.
People are in the streets chanting death to America in the last few days.
Saeed is in the hands of the radicals and he needs your prayers more than ever.
Today, let’s focus on prayer for Saeed’s safety and that the Lord would use Saeed to reach those murderers and rapist. After much weeping and prayer, I knew the Lord had new people for Saeed to share Jesus with.
Please join me in prayer and fasting.
Love
Naghmeh
Voice of the Persecuted is in agreement about the spiritual battle taking place against us, the Body of Christ! We are made stronger through HIM that overcomes!
As we began this 1st day of interceding and fasting on behalf of Saeed, there’s is news of great encouragement. Yesterday, one of the pastors that was imprisoned in Evin with him, Mostafa Bordbar sentenced for 10 years was released! Falling on the same day as the IDOP for the persecuted!
Our prayers are POWERFUL! We will not let the Darkness of this world put fear into us! We will rise above it and trust our Lord for the great miracle of Saeed’s release! It is on my heart that this transfer is not an interruption, but a Divine Intervention that will bring glory to our Lord!

Ephesians 6:10-20

The Armor of God

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people. Pray also for me, that whenever I speak, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should.

Please join us in this important fight to SAVE SAEED!
SIGN THE PETITON NOW. Stand up and be Saeed’s VOICE!

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