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Iranian Police Arrest Christian Pastor Khosroo Yusefi and his family

Sunday May 23, 2004 - Reported by Compass Direct

Remember those in prison, as if you were their fellow prisoners, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering. Hebrews 13:3, NIV

The following news bulletin by Compass Direct reports the arrest in Iran of Pastor Khosroo Yusefi along with his wife Nasrin and two children, a daughter aged 15, and son aged 18. The family was arrested on 23 May in Chalous, a town along the Caspian Sea coast. An Iranian Christian told Compass Direct, "The police have found out that people have come to Christ in that city, that's all. We don't know whether somebody was spying on them, or what." According to Compass Direct, "dozens of believers from two of Yusefi's church groups were jailed in the first week of May and later released. However, Sunday's arrest marks the first time that the entire family of a Christian leader has been taken into custody. The majority of Christians meeting in secret house-church groups in Iran are former Muslims."


Iranian Police Arrest Christian Pastor
Wife and teenage children also jailed.
by Barbara G. Baker

ISTANBUL, May 26 (Compass) -- Iranian police arrested a Protestant Christian pastor in northern Iran three days ago, jailing him along with his wife and two teenage children.

Pastor Khosroo Yusefi and his wife Nasrin were arrested on May 23 in Chalous, a town along the Caspian Sea coast in Mazanderan province. Together with their 18-year-old son and a daughter age 15, they remain imprisoned without known charges.

Today sources in Iran confirmed to Compass that the Yusefi family, together with four other local Christians arrested three weeks ago, have been moved to an unknown prison location outside Chalous.

"The police have found out that people have come to Christ in that city, that's all," an Iranian Christian told Compass. "We don't know whether somebody was spying on them, or what. The only thing we know is that they arrested them."

Pastor Yusefi is responsible for overseeing a number of unregistered Assemblies of God congregations in northern Iran. Now in their late 40s, Yusefi and his wife were members of the Baha'i religion before they came to faith in Christ nearly 20 years ago. "They caught so many of them that the whole congregation was stopped in all their activities," a source confirmed to Compass.

Last week most of these Christian prisoners were released, although police announced that four of the group's "key persons" would remain imprisoned. Some church members have expressed fears that severe treatment could be particularly difficult for Yusefi's wife, who underwent considerable trauma as a teenager during the Iranian revolution, when many of her Baha'i relatives and friends were killed.

"During these last few months, it was scary for Khosroo and Nasrin," the source said, noting they had been called in to the police many times, and at least twice fled their city to avoid arrest. "Now that they have arrested them, and especially with the children, she is even more under pressure."

Credible reports have come in from northern Iran since the beginning of 2004, documenting the arrests of a large number of individual Christian converts in the region. But Sunday's arrest marks the first time that the entire family of a Christian leader has been taken into custody.

Church leaders in Tehran have refused to comment on the case.

According to the U.S. State Department's most recent religious freedom report on Iran, the government creates a particularly "threatening atmosphere" against "some religious minorities, especially Bahai's, Jews and evangelical Christians."

"The government vigilantly enforces its prohibition on proselytizing activities by evangelical Christians by closing evangelical churches and arresting converts," the report noted. Under the Islamic republic's strict laws, conversion from Islam to another faith is punishable by death.

Courtesy of Compass Direct


Iranian Pastor's Wife, Children Released Four Protestant Christians still imprisoned in northern Iran

by Barbara G. Baker - Courtesy of Worthy News

ISTANBUL, June 7 (Compass) -- The wife and children of an Iranian Christian pastor have been released from jail a week after their arrest in northern Iran, although the pastor and three other local church leaders remain imprisoned in an unknown location.

Pastor Khosroo Yusefi.s wife Nasrin and two teenage children were allowed to return home on Sunday evening, May 30, to Chalous, a town near the Caspian Sea in Mazanderan province. The couple has an 18-year-old son and 15-year-old daughter. (See Compass Direct, .Iranian Police Arrest Christian Pastor,. May 26, 2004.)

Two other church leaders arrested a month earlier on unspecified charges were also released on May 30, sources in Iran confirmed to Compass.

But the same day, Iranian police arrested another Protestant church leader off the street in Nowshahr, less than 20 miles from Chalous. The latest Christian confirmed to be put under arrest in the region is believed to be jailed together with Yusefi and two other Christians arrested earlier in May.

Iranians arrested for converting to Christianity are typically blindfolded while being transferred to separate .religious. prisons, so that the prisoners cannot identify their whereabouts.

In their late 40s, Yusefi and his wife converted to Christianity nearly 20 years ago from the Baha.i religion. As a lay pastor, Yusefi has been involved with a number of unregistered churches in northern Iran.

The current detentions follow the reported imprisonment of large numbers of Christian converts across northern Iran in recent months. Although most of the prisoners have now been released, many were reported to have been subjected to severe beatings and threats while jailed.

Under the Islamic republic.s harsh muzzling of its Christian minorities, Iranian authorities have banned the Bible, closed down Protestant churches admitting worshippers of Muslim background and jailed former Muslims for converting to Christianity.

In a detailed report released today, Human Rights Watch accused the Iranian judiciary of being .at the center of human rights violations. documented in the Islamic republic.

Over the past four years, the report said, .a small group of judges accountable only to [Ayatollah Ali Khamenei]. has used vigilantes and security agents at their disposal to detain and interrogate dissidents, hiding the truth about their illegal arrests and systematic beatings in secret prisons.


TWO EVANGELICALS STILL JAILED IN ISOLATION

June 29 (Compass) -- More than five weeks after their arrest, Iranian Christian pastor Khosroo Yusefi and another church leader remain imprisoned in an unknown jail. Yusefi and a fellow Christian from Chalous are believed to be held in the vicinity of Sari, a city near the Caspian seacoast. But since June 8, when other church leaders jailed with them were released, local Christians have been unable to make contact with the two remaining prisoners. .Nobody can visit them yet,. an Iranian Christian told Compass, .and they have not been allowed to see a lawyer.. Yusefi had been arrested and imprisoned on May 23 with his wife Nasrin and two teenage children. A week later, his family was released and allowed to return home. Converted from the Baha.i religion nearly 20 years ago, Yusefi was overseeing a number of unregistered Assemblies of God house churches at the time of his arrest. The families of the church leaders arrested in May now have no means of regular financial support.

PASTOR RELEASED FROM PRISON

July 7 (Compass) -- Iranian pastor Khosroo Yusefi was released from prison in northern Iran yesterday, six weeks after he was arrested with his wife and children in Chalous, a city along the Caspian Sea coast. Yusefi and another Christian believer are the last of several dozen evangelical Christians arrested throughout May in the province of Mazanderan and later freed by police officials. Yusefi.s wife Nasrin and the couple.s two teenage children were released after a week in detention. In his late 40s, Yusefi converted to Christianity from the Baha.i religion nearly 20 years ago and gives pastoral supervision to several unregistered Assemblies of God house churches in the Caspian region. One source reported that the jailed Christians were ordered to stop meeting for worship and to .stop talking about Jesus.. The theocratic Islamic Republic of Iran forbids proselytizing among Muslims.

"Others were tortured and refused to be released, so that they might gain a better resurrection... they were stoned; they were sawn in two; they were put to death by the sword... the world was not worthy of them." -- Hebrews 11: 37-38.

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