Tuesday , 5 December 2023
ژوزف شهبازیان
ژوزف شهبازیان

The last defense of Joseph Shahbazian and four Christian converts

According to the news agency of the Aryan community, Joseph Shahbazian, Mina Khajovi, Sonia (Somia) Sadegh, Farhad Khazaei and Salar Eshraghi Moghadam were summoned on Saturday, October 24, for the last defense. All these people, who were previously arrested for their Christian belief and peaceful religious activity, are temporarily released on bail.

These Christian citizens have been given five days after receiving the summons to appear at the Evin court. On Sunday and Tuesday, at least three of them went to Evin courthouse.

Iman Soleimani, the lawyer defending these Christian citizens, says that after reading the accusations, the investigator Mohammad Mahdi Barae asked them to present their final defense before issuing the indictment.

According to Mr. Soleimani, the accusations against these Christians were raised without providing any documentation and only based on the claims of IRGC intelligence.

Among these accusations, we can mention promoting “Zionist Christianity”, “weakening faith in Muslim clergy”, “membership in opposition groups” to “disrupt national security”, “weakening the foundation of the family” and “attracting Muslims to the home church”. .

The lawyer of these Christian citizens adds that his clients have rejected these accusations in their defense.

On the 10th and 11th of July 2019, security agents attacked houses and house churches in different cities, including Tehran, Karaj and Malair, and arrested dozens of Christians, including Sonia Sadiq, Mina Khajavi, Joseph Shahbazian, Farhad Khazaei and Salar Ashrafi. They took the lead.

Bail appointments for Christian citizens

Joseph Shahbazian is temporarily free with a bail of two billion tomans, Sonia Sadegh with a bail of five hundred million tomans, and Mina Khajovi, Farhad Khazaei and Salar Eshraghi Moghadam, each with a bail of one billion two hundred million tomans.

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The investigator said that the case will be completed within ten days and will be sent to Branch 3 of Tehran Revolutionary Court.

“They said you should write what we want”

Ms. Khajawi has been asked questions about “the history of Protestantism” and “how Zionism uses” Protestants, which this Christian citizen has expressed ignorance about.

Mr. Soleimani adds that, based on the IRGC’s information, charges were brought against this Christian citizen and the investigator told him that by forming a house church, he caused people to “change their religion” and that he has a “private complaint” in this case. The investigator also mentioned the conversion of her husband and child to Christianity.

Mrs. Khajawi has requested to face the private complainant, she also said that she has not changed anyone’s religion and her son and husband have become interested in Christianity after seeing the change in her life after believing in Christ.

In the past years, Christians who were victims of the government’s repression due to religious fervor have said in interviews that the security agents forced some Christians who did not have important responsibilities in the home church to not file complaints or make accusations against other Christians.

Mr. Soleimani also says that during the final defense session, Mrs. Khajawi “took God as a witness” and “sworn to the Holy Ones” that “the officers pressured us and I wrote my statement several times and they tore it up.” And they threw the occupation bin and said that you should write what we want, so I don’t accept this report.”

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Sonia Sadegh has also been accused of “disrupting national security”. The lady was a member of the Yekdelan Women’s Church in Tehran and denied these accusations.

“Preaching Christianity” is also one of the accusations against Mr. Shahbazian, which Mr. Soleimani says, his client has denied all of them.

The Islamic Republic has repeatedly sent Christians to prison by presenting such accusations and without providing evidence and documentation. A group of UN reporters recently expressed concern in a letter to the Iranian government about the systematic persecution of Christians and asked for an explanation about vague accusations such as “actions against national security” and “propaganda against the regime”.

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