July 1, 2021
Three Christians from the Church of Iran denomination have each been sentenced to five years in prison and fined four million Rials ($95) on Saturday.
They were sentenced by the Revolutionary Court in Karaj, in the area of northern Iran, after being convicted of “engaging in propaganda against the Islamic regime.”
The three men, named as Amin Khaki, Milad Goudarzi and Alireza Nourmohammadi, are all appealing their sentences.
They were charged with “sectarian activities” during the trial, valid under a new amendment to the Iranian penal code.
The new amendment states that “any deviant education or propaganda that contradicts or interferes with the sacred Sharia (Islamic law,) will be severely punished,” according to a statement released by human rights advocacy organization Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW).
Prior to the new amendment, Christian converts living in Iran have traditionally been charged with “action against state security,” stemming from French law, and Iranian judges have used this in the past to crack down on citizens who convert to Christianity.
According to CSW, the men were not permitted legal representation by their lawyers, despite the lawyer fulfilling all the necessary requirements ahead of the trial.
“The campaign of harassment against Iranian Christians is unrelenting, as these baseless charges against these three men, under a new clause in the penal code, demonstrate. CSW calls for the acquittal of these innocent men,” said CSW’s Founder President Mervyn Thomas.
“We also reiterate our call for the repeal of laws and articles formulated or utilised to target minority communities. Finally, we urge the Iranian authorities to release all prisoners detained on account of their religion or belief, and to end the relentless campaign of harassment of Christians and other religious minorities through the judicial system.”
The Jerusalem Post