Iranian Christians request prayer for Anooshavan Avedian (60), an Iranian Armenian sentenced to ten years in prison for church activities, and converts Abbas Souri (45) and Maryam Mohammadi (46) who both received non-custodial sentences.
Anooshavan, Abbas and Maryam were arrested at a house church gathering in Narmak, North Tehran, on 21 August 2020. About thirty agents from Iranian intelligence conducted the raid on a private gathering at Anooshavan’s home, confiscating Bibles and cell phones and arresting several of those present, who were transferred to Evin Prison. Others present were forced to sign commitments to refrain from engaging in Christian activities.
Maryam and Abbas were temporarily released after two days, then summoned a week later and re-arrested. They were kept in solitary confinement for 26 days.
On 23 September 2020 Abbas and Maryam were again released after each submitting property deeds as bail to the value of 500 million tomans (about USD 25.000). Anooshavan was released the same day after submitting property deeds as bail to the value of one billion tomans (about USD 50.000).
Following a 10 April 2022 court hearing, Annoshavan was sentenced to ten years in prison, to be followed by ten years deprivation of social rights, such as employment opportunities, for “establishing and leading an illegal group with the aim of disrupting the security of the country through educational and propaganda activities contrary to and disturbing to the holy religion of Islam, through the dissemination of false claims … as well as contact with foreign countries, or organisational guidance from abroad.”
Maryam and Abbas were also deprived of social rights for a ten-year period, banned from foreign travel for two years and must endure two years’ exile from Tehran and its neighbouring provinces. They were also fined 50 million tomans each (about USD 2.000) and obliged to report regularly to intelligence offices.
The three Christians are appealing the sentences.
Prayer is requested that:
- God will strengthen and encourage the three Christians
- The appeal court will review the sentences and acquit them, recognising that their rights have been violated
- Iran will stop the criminalisation of Christians and other religious communities