Monday, May 30, 2005
CONVERT FROM ISLAM ACQUITTED OF APOSTASY CHARGES
- Could have faced death penalty
By Dan Wooding -
Founder of ASSIST Ministries
BANDAR-I BUSHEHR, IRAN (ANS) -- Hamid Pourmand, a lay leader in the
Assemblies of God church in Bandar-i Bushehr who converted to Christianity
in 1980, has been acquitted of charges of apostasy and proselytizing.
"If found guilty he would have faced the death penalty," said a spokesperson
for Middle East Concern (MEC), who has been monitoring the case. "He remains
imprisoned for allegedly deceiving the Iranian army about his being a
Pourmand was arrested September 9, 2004, together with 85 other participants
of the annual general conference of denomination. The other Christians were
released within the next three days, but pastor Pourmand was charged with
hiding his conversion from his superiors. According to Iranian law only
Muslims can be officers in the army.
The Middle East Concern spokesperson went on to say, "On Saturday May 28th
an Islamic judge in Bandar-I Bushehr, on Iran's Gulf coast, acquitted pastor
Pourmand of charges of apostasy and proselytizing Muslims. Christian news
agency Compass Direct has been told that the judge reportedly stated 'I
don't know who you are, but the rest-of-the-world does,' a clear reference
to the international attention that this case has attracted.'"
Pastor Pourmand was formally charged with apostasy from Islam and
proselytizing Muslims in early April. Starting on April 13th He appeared
before an Islamic court in Tehran every two or three days. He was repeatedly
pressed to return to Islam. These hearings stopped after two weeks. He was
transferred to his home town of Bandar-i Bushehr on the 16th May.
"On February 16th 2005 pastor Pourmand was found guilty of this charge
despite presenting documents in court that proved his superior were aware he
was a Christian before he was promoted to the officer ranks. He was
sentenced to three years imprisonment and dishonorably discharged from the
army with lost of his income, pension and housing for his family. However,
the local authorities delayed evicting his wife and two teenage sons from
their army provided housing until the end of the school year."
The spokesperson concluded by revealing that in the last 16 years three
Iranian church leaders have been charged with apostasy.
"All were convicted and sentenced to death," they said. "Pastor Hussein
Soodman was hanged in 1989. Deacon Maher had a noose round his neck when he
signaled his willingness to recant and was released after signing a paper to
that effect in 1992. Pastor Mehdi Dibaj was condemned to death in December
1993. He was released three weeks later after a strong international outcry;
only to be found murdered six months later."
MEC is a co-operative effort by concerned Christians in the Middle East
focusing on the need for Middle Eastern authorities to ensure the rights of
all who choose to call themselves Christian.
38 And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from his love. Death can't, and life can't. The angels can't, and the demons can't. Our fears for today, our worries about tomorrow, and even the powers of hell can't keep God's love away.
39 Whether we are high above the sky or in the deepest ocean, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.
The church in Iran needs the powerful intercessory prayers of the saints worldwide.
The following are some prayer points on behalf of the persecuted church in Iran:
Pray that the Lord would cover Pastor Hamid Pourmand, his family and other Iranian Church leaders with His
grace, goodness and mercies. Pray that they would feel His presence, and the
Holy Spirit would comfort and strengthen them in their
Christian walk. Pray for God's angels to surround the Pourmands and other
persecuted saints in Iran, so that their bodies, minds and spirits would be kept safe.
Pray that the Lord would give wisdom and boldness to Christian
leaders and followers of Christ in Iran. Pray for a fresh anointing of
the Holy Spirit upon them.
Pray that the authorities in Iran would administer true justice, and
that they would come to know the Truth that sets everyone free. Pray
that the authorities remove restrictions on Iranian Christians, their leaders, and their church services.
Pray that the Lord would reveal Himself to many Iranians through
dreams and visions and that many would be born by the Holy Spirit and
become children of God.
Pray that more evangelistic resources would become available for
multitudes of Iranians who hunger for the saving Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Eternal Life Agape Ministries and FarsiNet Ministries are committed to supporting pastor Pourmand and other Iranian Christian leaders and ministries. In particular, we are committed to helping Emmanuel, Pastor Hamid Pourmand's son with his tuition until he completes his medical school. 100% of all contributions go to support this family.
If you would like to support Brother Pourmand's family and other Iranian
Christians who suffer for their faith and are without financial means as a
result of this latest wave of persecution in Iran, you can do so through Eternal Life Agape Ministries (address below). You can
also help send pocket size Farsi New Testaments to Iran. For each $5, a
Farsi New Testament could be hand carried to Iran and placed in the hands of
an Iranian Muslim. Today is the day to reach Iranians. You are welcome to
send your donations for Pourman's family as well as Farsi New Testament for Iranians to the following address:
Eternal Life Agape Ministries
P.O. Box 3011
Chatsworth, CA 91313-3011, USA
Tel. 818-882-0586 Fax. 818-882-2057
Jesus said: "I have told you these things, so that in me you
may have peace. In this world you will have trouble.
But take heart! I have overcome the world."
- Gospel of John 16:33
April 30, Tehran Iran (Compass) -- Iranian authorities abandoned preliminary hearings against Christian convert Hamid Pourmand before an Islamic sharia court in Tehran last week, apparently after news of his trial leaked out to the international press.
Less than two weeks after secretive court proceedings began against the Protestant lay pastor, officials informed his lawyer and family that he was to be moved from Tehran's Evin Prison to his home city of Bandar-i Bushehr to stand trial for his life.
No indication was given as to when Pourmand would be transferred to one of several prisons in the southern port city.
Nor did officials specify when he would actually go on trial, facing the death penalty under the Islamic regime.s laws forbidding apostasy and proselytizing.
Second Trial for Pourmand
Pourmand, 47, was arrested by the Iranian security police last September for deserting Islam 25 years ago to become a Christian. A former colonel in the Iranian army, he was serving as lay pastor of an Assemblies of God congregation in Bandar-i Bushehr.
After five months in solitary confinement, he was convicted by a military court martial in mid February for "deceiving the Iranian armed forces" about his conversion; he was sentenced to three years in prison. Judges at the military tribunal declared the written evidence that his army superiors knew about his Christian faith to be "falsified documents".
Iran's Islamic law statutes forbid a non-Muslim to hold any position of authority over Muslims.
For the past two months, Pourmand has been jailed in Tehran in a group cell with a number of well-known political dissidents. He had lost nearly 40 pounds while undergoing interrogation in the first five months of strict isolation.
Legal Rights Ignored
"The prisons in Bandar-i Bushehr are terrible," one Iranian source commented. "By law, he should be allowed visitors once or twice a week. But in Iran, nobody pays any attention to the law".
According to rapporteurs of two working groups monitoring arbitrary detention and free expression in Iran under the auspices of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights, the Iranian judiciary routinely ignores the legal rights of citizens subjected to arrest and imprisonment.
"The rapporteurs have observed the use of arbitrary procedures by the judicial institutions violating the most basic rights of defendants, who are tried in secret hearings without a lawyer being present," declares the groups. report. They also noted "very harsh prison conditions, including long periods in solitary confinement, that are equivalent to torture".
Pourmand.s officer salary was suspended at the time of his arrest, with his entire pension cancelled after his military court conviction. Although court orders were issued immediately to evict his family from their army housing, local authorities in Bandar-i Bushehr have postponed the eviction of his wife and two teenage sons until the end of the current school term.
"Hamid's wife and sons feel very alone now," an Iranian source told Compass. "They are isolated, without any source of income, and no place to go when summer comes". Reportedly, local church leaders are under such government pressure that they do not dare to have any contact with her and the children.
(April 05, 2005)- Iranian Christian Hamid Pourmand must appear before the Islamic (sharia) court of Iran within nine days. An exact court date has not been released. Arrested September 2004 when security police raided a church conference he was attending, the Assemblies of God lay pastor will be brought up before the Islamic court between April 11 and 14 to face charges of apostasy from Islam and proselytizing Muslims to the Christian belief. Both "crimes" are punishable by death.
Pourmand, now 47, converted from Islam to Christianity nearly 25 years ago. He spent several months in solitary confinement after his arrest last September 9 2004, the only one of more than 80 church leaders arrested at the conference who was not released.
One of Iran's leading Protestant pastors was executed in December 1990 after a sharia court condemned him. Hussein Soodman, also an Assemblies of God pastor and a Muslim convert to Christianity, had been involved in Christian ministry for 24 years. He was reportedly hanged on December 3, 1990, as part of what was believed then to be a new wave of repression directed against the small Christian community in this Islamic Republic.
Pourmand, an army colonel at the time of his arrest, was found guilty by a military court on February 16 of "deceiving" the Iranian armed forces about his faith, despite evidence he produced to the contrary. According to the judge of the military court, his recent three-year sentence was given because Pourmand withheld from his superiors the information that he was a Christian. The Islamic regime in Iran has made it illegal for a non-Muslim citizen to serve as a military officer, since that puts him in a position of authority over Muslim soldiers.
The military court verdict is currently under appeal to the Supreme Court. But with the judiciary.s threat to try Pourmand before a sharia court of Islamic law now being carried out, he could face the death penalty.
Hope that Case Highlights Religious Intolerance
One Tehran source close to Pourmand.s case said he was hopeful that this judicial proof of religious intolerance in Iran would be highlighted during the annual six-week session of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights, convening now in Geneva.
The European Union (EU) lodged a formal protest with Iranian authorities last November over the arrests of Christians -- and in particular Christian pastors -- as an "infringement of the freedom of religion or belief".
Pourmand's verdict was labeled "a shocking travesty of justice, even by Iran's meager standards" by Nina Shea of Freedom House in Washington, D.C. His arrest was also noted in the latest report on human rights in Iran released in March by the U.S. State Department.
Hardship for Family
Transferred to a group prison cell at Tehran.s maximum-security Evin Prison after the February trial, Pourmand.s sentence automatically discharged him from the army, cutting off not only his regular income, but also eliminating nearly 20 years of military pension. Pourmand.s wife and two children were required to immediately vacate their home in military lodgings. "His family has nothing now," a source confirmed. "No salary, no house, nothing".
Pourmand and his wife Arlet, who is from an Assyrian Christian background, have two teenage sons, Immanuel and David. They were living in Bandar-i Bushehr, a southern port city where he served as volunteer lay pastor of a small Assemblies of God congregation.
(Reported by Compass Direct)
Pastor Hamid Pourmand of Bushehr, Iran has been sentenced to 3 years in prison. He was found guilty
of failing to confess he was a Christian while serving in the military. The documents which Pastor Pourmand presented proving the falseness of this claim were rejected by the courts. He has now apparently been moved to the infamous Evin Prison in Tehran. Besides spending 3 years in prison, Pastor Pourmand will be discharged from the armed forces, as well as forfeit his benefits.
Pastor Pourmand's troubles first began on September 9, 2004 when he, along with over 80 other Iranian church leaders, was arrested in Karaj, Iran during an annual nationwide church business meeting. While all others were released within days, Pastor Pourmand remained in prison.
Pastor Pourmand has been a Christian for over 25 years, and has always been very open about his faith. For most of this time he served with the Iranian Armed Forces,
while more recently has has voluntarily served other Christians as a pastor.
Pastor Pourmand has faithfully served his country for years, but now is being held prisoner because of his faith in Christ. There is concern for his safety as the climate in Iran has not always beenconducive to the well being of Christians, occasionally ending in their martyrdom such as Bishop Haik Hovsepian, Pastor Mehdi Dibaj, Pastor Bagher Yusefi, and others.
Please remember to pray for Pastor Pourmand and for his safety and release. Pray also for his wife and two children as they cope with life in this new situation. Pray also that the church in Iran would have wisdom and boldness during this time. Pray for true religious freedom in Iran.
PS: Under Islamic law enforced in Iran, a Muslim who converts to Christianity faces the death penalty.
"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.
2013 - October 21 - Pastor Eddie Romero - Tonight, at about 10:30PM (9:00AM Tehran time) Pastor Eddie Romero approached the notorious Evin Prison in Tehran and made a declaration of protest on behalf of five Iranian prisoners: Farshid Fathi, Saeed Abedini, Mostafa Bordbar, Alireza Seyyedian, and Mohammed Ali Dadkhah.
For more information go to: exodus8one.org
2013 - October 5 - Maryam Naghash-Zargaran - Maryam (aka Nasim) an Iranian Christian Prisoner in Evin Prison was Transferred to Hospital
2012 - January - The Governor General of Tehran Province, Morteza Tamadon, acknowledged in a statement on 4th January that a number of evangelical Christians had been arrested. He referred to their 'corrupting' influence and warned that further arrests are imminent.
2011 - December - Alireza Seyyedian - Alireza a Follower of Jesus since 2006, was arrested and sentenced to six years in December 2011. He is kept in the section 350 of Evin Prison where political prisoners are held.
2011 - September - Mehdi "Petros" Foroutan, a 27-year-old pastor in Iran, was arrested in January 2010 and charged with crimes against national security and blasphemy against Islam. (as of 2/24/2012 - 154 days in Prison)
2011 - May - Behnam Irani, a 41-year-old pastor from Kraj, Iran, was convicted of crimes against national security in January 2011 and sentenced to one year in prison. After voluntarily surrendering to authorities on May 31 to begin his sentence, he learned that he would be forced to serve five years in connection with a previous conviction.
2011 - Rev. Behrooz Khanjani trial hearing on 4/5/2001, He is married with a 6 yo child and has already spent over 8 months in prison
2011 - Rev. Leonard Keshishian, the pastor of the Assemblies of God Church in Isfahan has been arrested
2010 - December 26 - Farshid Fathi - was arrested on Dec. 26, 2010 in a wave of arrests of believers in Tehran and other areas. He was sentenced to six years of imprisonment on March 5, 2012. Farshid's appeal against the charges was rejected in June 2012. He is due to serve the rest of his sentence in Evin Prison.
2010 - October - a young believer has died in Iran after he had been severely beaten by a relative who objected to his strong faith in Christ. He leaves behind a wife and two young children. (Reported by Elam)
2010 - September 23, Nine followers of Jesus were detained in Hamedan, the capital of Hamadan province, on charges of evangelism, which potentially carries the death penalty under strict laws in Iran.
- According to a report by FCNN (Farsi Christian News Network), 4 followers of Jesus Christ from Hamadan were arrested on September 4, 2010. Three of them were released on April 30, 2011, after 8 months in prison (Arezoo Teymouri & her husband Arash Karmanjai and Sonia Keshish Ovanesian). Vahid Abrahemian is still under arrest as of April 30, 2011.
2010 - July 24 at 9:00 p.m., 27-year-old Neshan Saeedi was spending a quiet evening at home with his wife and young daughter when plain-clothes security forces entered his house and arrested him. The security officers searched the home and seized personal belongings such as a computer, CDs containing films of Christian seminars and teachings, Christian books and Bibles, and family photo albums. As of September 09, 2010 - there is no information about the condition of Neshan.
2010 - July 18, 15 Christians detained in Mashhad,Iran's second largest city, remain detained and are "under pressure pressure to recant their faith but are refusing to do so." - (Reported by The Voice of the Martyrs)
2010 - April 29, Ali Golchin (29), has been held in solitary confinement in Tehran's Evin prison since he was arrested in his home town of Varamin on April 29. After weeks of appealing to the authorities, Ali's father was finally allowed access to him on June 17 -- though they were allowed only 10 minutes together. Ali was released on bail on July 25.
2007 - In June, a number of Iranian Christians have been arrested and are held in unknown places, including Mr. fard from Tehran.
2007 - Mohammad Ali Jafarzadeh, May 2007, Executed (hanged) in Evin Prison
2007 - Mohammad Jaberi, May 2007, Executed (hanged) in Evin Prison
2007 - Mr. Patrick, an Iranian Christian and a member of Church of Kermanshah was arrested in May.
2007 - Several Iranian Christians from Church of Mashhad were arrested in February.
2006 - 14 Iranian Christians from Church of Rasht were arrested in December.
2006 - Iranian secret police began to raid and arrest leaders of the Islamic republic's indigenous "Jesus Only" movement Sunday December 10, arriving unannounced in the early morning hours to search their homes in Tehran, Karaj, Rasht and Bandar-i Anzali.