Iranian security forces arrested two Christian converts in northwestern and southwestern cities in Iran. The two men were taken to unknown locations.
According to the Human Rights News Agency, security forces arrested 37-year-old Shirku Siavoshi in his home in Sardasht on August 22. He was taken to an Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) Intelligence Department in the city and was beaten upon his arrest. The Christian man’s home was searched and some of his personal belongings including his laptop and hard drives were confiscated.
Another Christian convert, Mehdi Ibrahimzadeh, who is also from Sardasht, was detained in Fars Province, southwestern Iran. The 37-year-old Christian convert was taken to an unknown location.
It is not clear where the two men are currently being held but some sources say they were arrested by the IRGC.
Less than two weeks ago, a court in Tehran sentenced three Christian converts to a total of 35 years of prison.
According to Iranian law, evangelism, missionary work, and converting to Christianity can be a crime meriting a sentence of more than 10 years imprisonment. The distribution of Christian literature in Persian is currently illegal in Iran.
There is officially no crime known as apostasy in the penal code (although there was a law about it prior to 1994). The last known execution for this crime was in 1990. However, despite there being no official civil law of apostasy, judges may still convict a defendant of that crime if they rule based on religious fatwas.
According to Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, “Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience, and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship, and observance.”