London: June 8, 2018. (CSW) CSW has learned that a Christian named Mohammadali Yassaghi, known as 'Estifan', was arrested on 10 April 2018, accused of ‘spreading propaganda against the establishment’ and later transported to Babol prison in the province of Mazandaran.
A 52 year-old father of three and member of the Church of Iran denomination, Mr Yassaghi converted from Islam to Christianity over 20 years ago. His arrest is part of an ongoing official campaign targeting Christians through intimidation, spurious arrests and charges, and excessive sentencing.
Most recently, four Christians who had been convicted of 'acting against national security’ by ‘promoting Zionist Christianity’ saw their ten-year sentences upheld on appeal.
Pastor Yousef Nadarkhani, Mohammadreza Omidi (Youhan), Yasser Mossayebzadeh and Saheb Fadaie, also from the Church of Iran, had their ten-year sentences upheld on appeal by the Iranian authorities in Rasht On 2 May.
CSW’s Chief Executive Mervyn Thomas said: “We are deeply concerned by the continuing use of the criminal justice system to violate the right to freedom of religion or belief in Iran. Mr Yassaghi’s arrest violates the Iranian constitution, recognises the right of the Christian community to freedom of religion or belief, and is also contrary to Iran’s obligations under international covenants to which it is signatory. We urge the Iranian authorities to drop all charges against Mr Yassaghi, and to release him. We also call on the international community to encourage Iran to comply with its own constitution, and to end its campaign of harassment against religious minorities.”