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Iranian Police Detain 80 Iranian Evangelical ChristiansISTANBUL,September 10, 2004 (Compass) -- Iranian police invaded the annual general conference of Iran.s Assemblies of God Church yesterday, arresting at least 80 church leaders gathered at the church.s denominational center in Karaj, 20 miles west of Tehran. Reportedly each individual was questioned separately by security officials, who had a specific list of questions. By evening, the authorities had released all the arrested Christians except for the 10 pastors among them. The location of these 10 men is unknown, and their families have not been allowed any contact with them. All the evangelicals released last night were forbidden to attend church services today. .This is the biggest crisis for evangelical believers in the country since three Protestant pastors were murdered 10 years ago,. another source told Compass.
Iranian Police Released 10 Evangelical PastorsSeptember 13, 2004 (Compass) -- Ten evangelical pastors and elders of Iran.s Assemblies of God Church arrested four days ago were released on Sunday, .quite late in the night,. an Iranian source confirmed. Together with 70 other Assemblies of God representatives, the 10 leaders had gathered at a church center in Karaj for the church's annual general conference on September 9 when the arrests occurred. Police officers swarmed onto the property that morning, blindfolding all the men and women present and taking them off to be fingerprinted and interrogated. All the detainees were released by nightfall except for the 10 pastors and elders. Reportedly they were not given any reason for their arrest, although they were asked .many questions about themselves and each other,. one source said. Due to close police surveillance, the 10 leaders have not made direct contact with other evangelical believers since their release. Since its declaration as an Islamic state in 1979, Iran has clamped down harshly on its Protestant citizens.
One Iranian Pastor Still in JailSeptember 14, 2004 (Compass) -- Protestant church leaders in Iran learned this morning that one of 10 evangelical pastors reportedly released from detention by police authorities on September 12 is still being held incommunicado. Assemblies of God Pastor Hamid Pourmand, 47, has not returned to his home in Bandar-i Bushehr and is presumed to remain under police arrest in the Karaj-Tehran area, where he was initially detained with 80 other Assemblies of God leaders on September 9. A former Muslim who converted to Christianity nearly 25 years ago, Pourmand pastors a congregation in southern Iran. He and his wife, who is of Assyrian Christian background, have two children. Since the government-ordered execution of convert pastor Hussein Soodmand in December 1990, the Islamic Republic of Iran has enacted a harsh crackdown against the country.s evangelical churches and various house church movements accused of evangelizing Muslims.
Iranian police release 10 Evangelical pastors
No reasons given for four-day detentionby Barbara G. Baker
Compass Direct (13.09.2004)/HRWF (14.09.2004) . Email: firstname.lastname@example.org - Website: http://www.hrwf.net - Ten evangelical church leaders arrested four days ago by Iranian police were released last night from their unknown detention site.
All pastors and elders in Iran.s Assemblies of God Church, the 10 men were set free on Sunday night, .quite late in the night,. an Iranian Christian source confirmed.
After their release, the pastors were allowed to return to Tehran to stay with their families or friends in the capital or nearby Karaj. Those living in other cities were returning home today to Rasht, Urumiyeh, Ahwaz and Boshahr, church sources said.
The pastors reportedly were not given any specific reason for their arrest, although they were asked .many questions about themselves and each other,. one source said.
Due to police surveillance monitoring their movements and telephone conversations, the pastors have not made direct contact with other evangelical believers since their release.
Together with 70 other Assemblies of God Church leaders, the pastors had convened at a church center in Karaj for their annual general conference on September 9 when the arrests occurred. Police officials swarmed onto the property that morning, blindfolding all the men and women present and taking them off to be fingerprinted and interrogated.
All the detainees were released by nightfall except for the 10 pastors and elders, who were held incommunicado until their release Sunday night.
Reportedly the church leaders had refused to name any one person among them as their top leader, prompting the police to arrest the entire group en masse. Last week.s police crackdown was the largest known arrest of Iranian evangelical believers in the past decade.
The murderers of three of Iran.s leading Protestant pastors 10 years ago have never been brought to justice. Assemblies of God leader Rev. Haik Hovsepian-Mehr was murdered in January 1994, shortly after launching a successful international campaign to free Mehdi Dibaj, a long-time convert to Christianity jailed for nine years.
Six months later, Dibaj was also killed, followed days later by the disappearance and murder of Rev. Tateos Michaelian, a Presbyterian pastor.
Since its declaration as an Islamic state in 1979, Iran has clamped down harshly on its Protestant citizens and even closed the Iranian Bible Society. A large number of evangelical churches have been closed for worship, their buildings confiscated and known converts to Christianity put under arrest.
Under Islamic law enforced in Iran, a Muslim who converts to Christianity faces the death penalty.
Courtesy of Compass Direct
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