ACLJ: Pastor Youcef Sees His Son on His Son’s Birthday

ACLJ news service

Yesterday, 2nd of April was Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani’s son’s birthday. While he didn’t got the present he really wanted, his father’s freedom, he did receive a very special gift. Pastor Youcef’s son was able to visit his father in prison.

Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani and his two sons in Iran

This was not only a birthday present for his son, but serves as an early birthday present for Pastor Youcef, who will celebrate his 35th birthday and the two-and a half year mark of his imprisonment next week. Over the course of Pastor Youcef’s illegal imprisonment in Iran, he has only been permitted to see his children a handful of times.

Not only does this mean that Pastor Youcef is still alive, but it is a precious reminder of what we are fighting for – freedom for a loving father, a devoted husband, a caring pastor, and a devout follower of Christ.

The information from our sources in Iran that Pastor Youcef is still alive should also put to rest any lingering rumors of his execution. Last week, ACLJ told you about a number of false rumors circulating the Internet that Pastor Youcef had been executed. That post was very successful in stomping out the false rumors, and Snopes (a website dedicated to debunking internet rumors) used the ACLJ’s information to expose these false rumors.


British MPs highlight Nadarkhani case and Iran’s “appalling” religious freedom violations

In a 90-minute debate on human rights in Iran, Members of Parliament yesterday highlighted the worrying situation of Iranian Pastor Yousef Nadarkhani and discussed the regime’s systematic denial of the Iranian people’s right to freedom of religion or belief.

The severe persecution faced by Christians, Baha’is, Jews and other religious minorities in Iran was highlighted as a key area of concern by various MPs, within the wider discussion on the extensive and broad-ranging human rights violations committed by the Iranian government.

Stewart Jackson MP drew heavily on Christian Solidarity Worldwide’s (CSW) research to describe the problems faced by Christians, including the worrying uncertainty surrounding the Nadarkhani case, and the plight of other detainees such as Farshid Fathi and Pastor Benham Irani. “Torture is used to pressure individuals to make confessions and to provide information on others. As I mentioned, exorbitant bail postings secure the release of individuals, along with illegal documents that religious detainees are forced to sign. Such documents demand an end to participation in Christian activities, the renunciation of faith, and compliance with further questioning when summoned. Laptops and mobile phones are often confiscated during raids on private Christian homes and are used to obtain information on the activities and identities of other Christians.”

Louise Ellman MP, who tabled the debate, began the proceedings by raising the plight of the severely-targeted Baha’i religious minority: “The repression takes a number of forms in an ongoing and systematic persecution. It means arbitrary arrest and imprisonment and the denial of access to higher education and areas of employment. The homes and businesses of Baha’is have been subject to arson attacks, cemeteries have been destroyed, and children have been harassed.”

MPs pressed the British Government to make representations to Iran on the issue of the Islamic Penal Bill, which is due to be passed by the Iranian parliament later this year and which may still include a clause stipulating the death penalty for male apostates, despite Iranian claims to the contrary.

Replying to the debate, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Alistair Burt MP said, “We will press at the [UN Human Rights] Council in March, as we do at every Council, for Iran to deal with the record against it that colleagues have spoken about. There is no doubt that the issues raised here will continue to be raised by colleagues, but they may rest assured that their concerns are echoed by the Government. We will continue to stand up for the rights of those who are oppressed in Iran.”

CSW was commended for its work by a number of Parliamentarians, and a reference was made to CSW’s engagement with a debate on human rights in North Korea, which also took place yesterday prior to the Iran debate.

CSW’s Chief Executive Mervyn Thomas said, “CSW welcomes the remarks made by Members of Parliament and the response of the government during yesterday’s debate on the human rights situation in Iran, and is encouraged by the robust coverage of the widespread abuses of freedom of religion or belief in that nation. Given the appalling violations that religious minorities face in Iran, it is of utmost importance that the international community both stands and acts in solidarity with them, something that was well articulated in yesterday’s debate. CSW is committed to continuing to raise religious freedom issues in Iran with key policy shapers and decision makers until the human rights situation there is positively and irrevocably changed.”

General Assembly voices concern over Iranian human rights record

Ahmed Shaheed

Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Iran Ahmed Shaheed

The United Nations condemns Iran’s blunt and constant violation of basic human rights of its citizens. “Arabs, Azeris, Baluchis and Kurds and their defenders have all faced rights violations that at times amount to persecution, according to the resolution, with religious minorities such as Christians, Jews, Sufis, Sunni Muslims, Zoroastrians and Bahá’ís.”

Only ongoing international pressure can change the situation and bring about change in Iran’s behavior. Act now and write to your representatives and local officials – it’s not too late to save Pastor Nadarkhani!

[Read More: UN News Centre]

CNN: Iran must stop persecuting minority religions

Roxana Saberi of CNN writes: “According to the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran, Iran’s judiciary has ordered the verdict to be delayed, possibly for one year. But Nadarkhani’s supporters hope sustained worldwide pressure will lead to his just and immediate release.

As international criticism has mounted, an Iranian official has alleged that Nadarkhani is being prosecuted not for his faith but for crimes including rape and extortion. Nadarkhani’s attorney, however, says the only charge the pastor has faced is apostasy, and court documents support this assertion.”

Our efforts are making a difference and we must keep the pressure on to ensure Pastor Nadarkhani’s speedy release. Join us and help!

[Read More: CNN]

Our chance to save Pastor Nadarkhani: Iran Delays Death Sentence for Christian Pastor

According to CBN news, the head of the Iranian judiciary instructed the court to delay its decision for another four months, giving is the chance to save Youcef Nadarkhani from execution or a forced conversion to Islam. Please help us bring about his speedy release to the loving arms of his wife and children. Send a letter to world leaders and encourage them to take a stand today!

[Read More: CBN News]

Iran pastor (Yousef) to remain in prison

Baptist Press updates that an Iranian court had ordered any decision on pastor Nadarkhani to be delayed at least four months, meaning he will be in prison there during Christmas and well into the new year.

It appears as though the media attention and countless letter, faxes, emails have yet to move the Iranian authorities so it is crucial that we keep the pressure on and save Yucef Nadarkhani.

[Read More:]

Petition to Mr Sadegh Larijani, Chief Justice of Iran

The Christian organization “Christian Solidarity Worldwide” is collecting signatures to petition Mr Sadegh Larijani, Chief Justice of Iran and demand the release of Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani from prison. According to CSW, “An upward referral to Iran’s Supreme Leader in October was followed by several weeks of inaction and a subsequent claim  that a final verdict would be reached sometime in mid-December.”

Please take a moment to sign this important petition to the highest legal authority in Iran.