Pray now! 12 Christians in Iran blindfolded, beaten, arrested in coordinated operation

July 3, 2020 by Lindy Lowry in Middle East

At least 12 Christians have been arrested by intelligence agents belonging to Iran’s Revolutionary Guard in a coordinated operation across three cities. Article 18 reports that the arrests took place over the last few days on Tuesday evening and Wednesday morning in Tehran,  Karaj, and Malayer.

 

Dozens more Christians were ordered to provide their contact details and told they will be soon be summoned for questioning. The arrests are believed to be a coordinated effort that involved an informant who infiltrated the group and earned the trust of the believers. This is the kind of deception persecuted Christians in places like Iran continually face.

Raided, blindfolded and beaten

Below is Article 18’s report:

The first arrests took place at around 8pm on Tuesday evening, in western Tehran’s Yaftabad district.

Ten intelligence agents – eight men and two women – raided the home of a recent Christian convert, where around 30 Christians had gathered.

The agents, who were armed and wore masks, were reportedly polite as they filmed the raid and separated men from women, but later turned the cameras off and treated the Christians harshly.

All those present were taken down to the building’s car park, where a van with blacked-out windows awaited, as well as several cars. All cars belonging to local residents seemed to have been moved to make space for the agents’ cars and for the garage to become a quasi interrogation room.

The agents then proceeded to read out a list of names written on an arrest warrant.

The six present whose names were read out—Armenian-Iranian Christian Joseph Shahbazian, and five Christian converts named Reza, Salar, Sonya, and elderly sisters Mina and Maryam – were handcuffed, blindfolded and taken away, and have not yet been able to contact their families to tell them where they have been taken.

The others whose names were not read out— many of them recent converts— had their mobile phones confiscated and were ordered to fill out forms providing information of another method by which they could be reached, and told not to follow-up on the confiscation of their phones for at least 72 hours.

They were also ordered to write down that none of their property had been confiscated, even after the confiscation of their mobile phones and despite their protestations.

The agents then drove the six arrested Christians, as well as some of those whose names were not on the list, to their homes in Tehran and Karaj to carry out searches of their properties, looking especially for Bibles, other Christian literature and communications devices.

According to the reports of witnesses, some of the Christians were beaten, as well as some of their non-Christian family members.

The agents later went to the homes of the three Christian converts whose names were read out but had not been present—two men called Farhad, and another named Arash— and arrested them.

Coordinated arrests

Meanwhile, on the same night, three Christian converts in the city of Malayer were called and told to report to the Revolutionary Guard intelligence office the next day for questioning.

The three Christians—named Sohrab, Ebrahim and Yasser—were arrested the next morning, before they had the chance to turn themselves in They were then detained, but released the next day after posting bail of 30 million tomans (around $1,500) each.

All that is known about the whereabouts of the other arrested Christians is that two of them had their bail set at 50 million tomans (around $2,500), and are currently seeking to raise the amount to secure their temporary release.

It is believed that the raids were coordinated with the help of an informant, who had infiltrated the group within the past few months and gained their trust. This individual is reported to have accompanied the intelligence agents in their raid on the Tehran house-church, and to have even stood next to the judge as he later read out his bail demands.

 

Pray with Iranian believers by name

Pray with us for these believers (including one other unnamed believer) and their families. Ask God to calm their fears, that they would know that they’re not alone and that the worldwide Church is standing with them. Pray that they would be treated well and for quick release to be back home with their families.

Father, we pray that You would be ever-near to our hurting and scared family members today and that ultimately they would be acquitted and allowed to safely gather. We thank You for what You’re doing in the church of Iran as more people turn to You each day despite risks of arrest and prison. God, continue to grow Your church and use bold believers like these courageous 12 to advance Your Kingdom. 

Pray with them by name:

  • Joseph Shahbazian,
  • Reza
  • Salar
  • Sonya
  • elderly sisters Mina and Maryam
  • Sohrab,
  • Ebrahim
  • Yasser
  • Farhad
  • Arash
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