Dissident Arrests in Iran
Voice of America - Editorial
Dec 25, 2003
An Iranian cabdriver faces a lengthy prison term, perhaps even the death penalty, for attaching a sticker to the rear window of his car that said only, The era of arrogant rulers is over."
Ali Akbar Najafi is charged with acting against national security. His attorney says Mr. Najafi was arrested in Tehran in June and kept blindfolded in solitary confinement for fifty-three days. Mr. Najafi goes on trial December 28th. He has asked Nobel Peace Prize laureate Shirin Ebadi to represent him.
As the National Coalition of Pro-Democracy Advocates reports, such arrests are on the rise. The Iranian-American human rights groups president, Haydar Akbari, says the Iranian government is abusing students, women, minorities and anyone who strays from the party line:
"The human rights situation [is] getting worse and worse because the regime is losing its support by the people day by day. That's the reason we're seeing more uprisings from the students and all categories of the society."
Mr. Najafis arrest in June coincided with a flood of pro-democracy protests in Iran. Thousands of people took to the streets to oppose the Islamic fundamentalist regime and to call for more political, social, and economic freedom. Some four-thousand people were arrested. One of those was Canadian-Iranian photojournalist Zahra Kazemi.
On June 23rd, Ms. Kazemi was arrested while taking photographs of families trying to see relatives being held at Evin prison in Tehran. According to the National Coalition of Pro-Democracy Advocates, she was interrogated for seventy-seven hours, then was killed by a blow to the head while still in custody. While charges have been filed in the case and an open trial is to be held, there are still many unanswered concerns about how the case is being handled. Shirin Ebadi, who is representing the Kazemi family, has complained publicly that she has not been given access to the case files.
In the words of President George W. Bush, In Iran, the demand for democracy is strong and broad. The regime in Iran, he said, must heed the democratic demands of the Iranian people, or lose its last claim to legitimacy." http://www.daneshjoo.org/generalnews/article/publish/article_4194.shtml
Another Iranian Christian
pays the ultimate price
"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.
Iranian Assemblies of God pastor Mohammad Bagher Yusefi has been
found dead in a forest near his home city of Sari, the capital of
the north western Iranian province Mazandaran. Mohammad Yusefi left
his house at 6 o'clock in the morning on Saturday 28th September
for prayer and never returned. Later that evening his family were
contacted by the local authorities who said his body had been
discovered hanging from a tree. Although the authorities say they
are investigating Yusefi's death, there can hardly be any doubt
that he has been martyred because he was a Christian leader from
a Muslim background. Mohammad Yusefi was the pastor of the Assemblies
of God churches in Mazandaran, and had recently been responsible for
seeing the church grow in size in the city of Gorgan. Mohammad Yusefi
had also raised two sons of Rev. Mehdi Dibaj while he was in prison
for 9 years because he refused to deny his faith in Christ.
Sixty year old Rev. Dibaj was released after an international campaign,
but was murdered three months later in similar circumstances. Yusefi's
body is expected to be released by the authorities today and a Christian
funeral is planned for Saturday 5th October.
Thirty four year old Mohammad Bagher Yusefi, was born in a Muslim family,
but became a Christian as a young man. He was a very committed Christian,
a gifted evangelist and pastor. He became known as Ravanbakhsh which in
Persian means "Soul Giver". Those who knew him were especially struck by
his gentleness and humility. He loved music and wrote many indigenous
Mazandarani Christian songs.
Mohammad Bagher Yusefi leaves behind his wife, Akhtar, who is also a
committed Christian from a Muslim background, and two children, a
daughter Ramsina aged 9 and a son, Stephen aged 7. Akhtar became a
Christian under the ministry of Rev. Hossein Soodmand who was martyred
in 1990. The grieving family will be comforted by the prayers of
Christians around the world as this sad news reaches them.
According to strict Islamic law Muslims who change their religion
should be killed. Mohammad Bagher Yusefi is the seventh Christian
leader to be killed in Iran since the 1979 revolution. At the
beginning of the revolution the Anglican Church, which was mainly
made up of converts from Islam was attacked. Rev. Sayyah the priest
in Shiraz had his throat cut, and Bahram Deghani-Tafti, the son of
the Anglican bishop, was shot. More recently Islamic hostility to
Christianity has concentrated on the Assemblies God churches as
Muslims are becoming Christians in their churches. In December 1990
Rev. Soodmand, the leader of the church in Mashad, was executed by
hanging in a prison in Mashad and then in January 1994 Bishop Haik
Hovsepian Mehr and in July, the same year, Rev. Mehdi Dibaj were
killed. Also in that year the sixty-two year old leader of the
Presbyterian church, Rev. Tateos Michaelian, was murdered after
taking over Bishop Hovsepian's position as Chairman of the Protestant
Council of Ministers.
Though grieving at the moment the leaders of the church in Iran are
determined to continue the work of preaching the Gospel. They fully
believe the words of the great early church leader, Tertullian, "that
the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church" and are expecting
the church to grow.
With a population of over 65 million and influence over much of the
Middle East and Central Asia, Iran represents a great challenge to the
Though small and living in constant danger of persecution, the church
in Iran has been a faithful witness. Since the 1979 Islamic Revolution
Iranians have become responsive to the Gospel and many have become
The martyrdom of Mohammad Bagher Yusefi echoes a Macedonian call
to Christians around the world to partner Iranian Christians in
proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus Christ by all possible means to the
Persian Speaking World. http://www.domini.org/openbook/iran1.htm
The Iranian people are an extremely tolerant population who love Christians, Jews, Zoroastrians, etc.. And Iranian Muslims are extremely pro-Christian, and other religious minorities.. they're disgusted by the pan-arabist, terrorist aligned regime in Iran.. When will this regime wither, and what happens when they die? is it fair for them all to die?