By BosNewsLife Middle East Service
TEHRAN, IRAN (BosNewsLife)– Two evangelical Christians were recovering of their injuries Friday, November 1, after they received 80 painful lashes for taking wine during a communion service, Christians and rights activists confirmed.
Behzad Taalipasand and Mehdi Dadkhah (Danial) of the Church of Iran, a network of house churches, received the lashes Wednesday, October 30. Christians with close knowledge about the situation said Behzad Taalipasand was whipped “with extreme violence.”
Reports suggest that Mehdi Reza Omidi’s (Youhan) sentence will be carried out on November 2, but it was not not yet known when or if Amir Hatemi (Youhanna) would be punished.
Trial observers said the Christians were charged with drinking alcohol and possession of a receiver and satellite antenna, and were given ten days in which to appeal.
Christians said it remained unclear whether their appeals were rejected, or whether the delay in receiving the verdict meant they ran out of time.
Behzad Taalipasand and Mehdi Reza Omidi (Youhan) were detained on December 31, 2012 during a reported crackdown on house churches by the Iranian government, Christians said.
Mervyn Thomas, chief executive of advocacy group Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) told BosNewsLife that his group condemns the sentences as “These men are being punished for simply partaking in a sacrament practiced for centuries by Christian the world over.”
He said the “appalling and unjust infringement on the right to manifest one’s faith in practice, worship and observance has occurred despite Iran’s obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) to uphold freedom of religion or belief for all of its religious communities.”
Thomas explained that the punishment “meted out to these men for partaking in a legitimate act of worship amounts to a contravention of article 5 of the ICCPR, which prohibits inhuman or degrading punishment.”
He said the CSW has urged Iran’s government to bring the Islamic nation’s legal practices and procedures in line with its international standards “and to release these men without delay or further punishment.”