Stop Fundamentalism – A group of 50 Iranian newly converted Christians including Pastor Vervier Avanessian, 60, were arrested on December 27 last year during a Christmas religious ceremony in a house north of Tehran, said a statement by the Iranian opposition today.
According to National Council of Resistance of Iran, Iranian intelligence agents attacked the house taking everyone to the notorious Evin prison.
According to NCRI, Pastor Avanessian is said to have undergone severe torture following arrest causing him a kidney failure. He was hospitalized on the New Year’s eve in a prison hospital for surgery, but then immediately returned to Evin prison despite his serious condition.
Avanessian is an official Iranian-Armenian pastor. A team of intelligence agents entered his house following the arrest taking computers, Christian books and DVDs and other personal belongings.
The Iranian regime also arrested Pastor Yousef Nadarkhani during Christmas holidays. Nadarkhani was arrested earlier in 2008 and sentenced to death on charges of apostasy but was freed in 2012 following extensive international campaign calling for his release. He was senesced to death for converting to Christianity from Islam which is a sin under Islamic Republic’s laws.
Iranian Christian community experiences extensive terror during the Christmas holiday season every year, says the Iranian Christian News Agency, Mohabat News. The Iranian regime has issued specific orders to Iranian churches, particularly the Farsi speaking ones, prior to the holiday season.
Iranian Christians are one of the three main religious minorities recognized in Iran by the Islamic constitution but recently the Iranian regime has become very sensitive to religious minorities severely limiting their activities and practice of their religion. That may be due to an increase in the number of young Iranians converting from Islam to Christianity.
Pressures on the Iranian minorities has caused many of them to flee the country. Just before the Islamic revolution in Iran in 1979, the Iranian-Armenian community had a population of over 300,000. But currently there are only 40,000 Armenians living in Iran, says the Farsi language news agency on its website.