By BosNewsLife Middle East Service
TEHRAN, IRAN (BosNewsLife)– Iran’s feared intelligence service continues to detain a pastor and two fellow believers, nearly a week after armed agents violently broke up a Christian picnic, an official assisting the Christians with advocacy told BosNewsLife.
Pastor Amin Khaki, Hossein Barunzadeh (‘Daniel’) and Rahman Bahman (‘Zia’) and five other believers were attacked Wednesday, March 5, by officers of the Ministry of intelligence and National Security (VEVAK), in a park of the southwestern city of Shush, said Jason DeMars, director of advocacy group Present Truth Ministries.
“The VEVAK officers pulled their guns on the believers and beat them, even injuring a believer by the name of Mohammad,” DeMars added.
“All of them were detained and put in interrogation rooms with a blindfold on for six hours,” he added. While most were eventually released, “they are still holding Pastor Amin in prison along with two church members, brother Zia and brother Daniel, the advocacy official explained.
“VEVAK is being unclear about the charges” the Christians face or whether “they will be released or transferred” to another prison, DeMars said. “Our sources have not been able to get straight answers. The three Christians are still behind bars.”
It was not immediately clear what the outcome was of a March 8 court hearing. Iran’s secretive judicial system has been criticized by the international community. “Officials mentioned that Pastor Amin may need to stay in Shush for a month so that they can investigate,” DeMars said.
The official added that he had urged his supporters to pray “for protection and for a good outcome of the court hearing.”
Last week’s reported raid on the Christian picnic is part of a wider crackdown on Christian groups in the country, according to rights activists and church groups.
Iranian officials have reportedly expressed concern about the growing number of Muslims becoming Christians in the strict Islamic nation.
Pastors and other believers remain behind bars in several prisons across Iran.
(BosNewsLife, the first truly independent news agency covering persecuted Christians, is ‘Breaking the News for Compassionate Professionals’ since 2004).
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