A jailed Iranian Christian wrote an open letter from Tehran’s Evin Prison demanding to know why he had been sentenced to 10 years of prison for running “house churches”.
Naser Navard Gol Tappeh has been sentenced to 10 years of prison for “acting against national security” for “running house churches”.
“Today marks more than two years since I have been detained in prison for the fabricated charge of acting against national security by running house churches, even though religious ceremonies are part of our religion,” he wrote from the notorious prison.
“As a Farsi speaking jailed Iranian Christian who follows the Bible, I want you to know that holding Farsi (non-Armenian) religious ceremonies in our homes is considered an act against national security by the Islamic Republic,” Naser Navard Gol Tappeh wrote.
Protestant “house churches” are illegal in Iran. In a May 2016 report to the UN Human Rights Council (HRC), the (then) UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran, Ahmed Shaheed, quoted the Iranian government as saying that the running of house churches was illegal since they have not obtained the necessary permits from the authorities.
Most house churches do not run for more than two years at a time due to risks of being monitored and found out by the state.
“I do not know the rationale behind such a heavy condemnation against me,” the Iranian Christian convert wrote on Friday.
Naser Navard Gol Tappeh has been serving his 10 year prison term since January 20, 2018.
He was detained along with three Azerbaijani nationals on June 24, 2016 in a private gathering. The three men are members of the “World of Life” Church in Baku.
All four Christians were kept for two months in solitary confinement for interrogations and were then accused of “assembly and collusion through evangelical activities”.
They were subsequently temporarily released on bail after four months. The three Azeri nationals returned to Azerbaijan.
The 26th Branch of the Revolutionary Court condemned Naser Navard Gol Tappeh to a hefty prison term without allowing his lawyer access to files and documents that incriminated him.