The 2023 annual report by the London-based organization, Article18, has revealed an increasing number of Christians arrested in Iran last year, up from 134 to 166 since 2022.

The report, titled ‘Faceless Victims: Rights Violations Against Christians in Iran’, co-released with Open Doors, CSW, and Middle East Concern, highlights the plight of numerous victims whose identities remain undisclosed due to fears of exacerbating their situation.

The arrests occurred in waves throughout the year. “Just a handful reported prior to June, then over 100 within the next three months, before a further rash of arrests at Christmas,” the report states, underscoring the sudden spikes in persecution faced by the Christian community.

“At least 17 of the Christians arrested during the summer had received prison sentences of between three months and five years, or non-custodial punishments such as fines, flogging, and in one case the community-service of digging graves,” researchers stated.

Only two individuals, Elisa Shahverdian and her husband, Hakop Gochumyan, were identified among those arrested during the summer, with Gochumyan still detained in Evin Prison.

Even when released from prison, the harassment continues, the report states, with seven different types of post-prison pressure listed, including continued monitoring, denial of employment and education, new charges or reopened cases. All of which, “make it increasingly difficult for Christians to remain in Iran”.

Like many escaping the regime, the report notes that “many [Christians] flee … only to find a new set of challenges awaiting them as refugees”.

Bible distributors are among the most harassed targets, with “over one-third of arrests targeting individuals in possession of multiple copies.”

The Abrahamic faiths, Christianity, Islam and Judaism, are the only legal religions in Shia majority Iran, but Sunni minority Muslims, Jews and Christians continue to face persecution. Other minorities such as the 300,000 strong Bahai community, face systematic persecution.

Source » iranintl