December 28, 2012

Youcef Nadarkhani Imprisoned Again: Iranians Take Pastor on Christmas Day

The happy day in September when Youcef Nadarkhani was released from prison.

The happy day in September when Youcef Nadarkhani was released from prison.

On Christmas Day, instead of celebrating the birth of Jesus with his family, Youcef Nadarkhani was once again facing the harsh injustice of life in Iran.

Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) reported that although Nadarkhani had been acquitted of apostasy and released from prison in September, he was ordered back to prison – coincidentally, I am sure — on Christmas Day. He is to serve out the remaining days of an earlier sentence he received for evangelizing Muslims.

According to Christian Examiner, authorities claimed that Nadarkhani had been released from prison 45 days too early, “due to the insistence of his lawyer, Mohammed Ali Dadkhah.” Narkhani had served 1062 days of his three year sentence. At that time the court stated that the remaining 45 or so days of his sentence would be served in the form of probation said Fox News reporter Lisa Daftari. Now they demand that Nadarkhani serve the rest of his sentence and complete paperwork that allegedly had not been completed during his release in September.

Brave and successful human rights defender Dadkhah is now in the notorious Evin Prison.

Brave and successful human rights defender Dadkhah is now in the notorious Evin Prison.

Dadkah, a prominent Muslim human rights attorney and co-founder of Iran’s Center for Human Rights Defenders (CHRD), is now in the notorious Evin Prison himself. He was sentenced to 9 years and his license to practice law was revoked for 10 years, because of his defense of Nadarkhani and other human rights issues. Daftari reports that “his health is rapidly deteriorating” and he “is being denied proper dental care” according to his family.

Human rights activists have similar concerns for Nadarkhani’s welfare once again in Lakan Prison. Soon after his release, the pastor released a public letter expressing his gratitude to all those around the globe who worked for his release. And in November, he spoke at Christian Solidarity Worldwide’s national human rights conference in London, and also at four services at Holy Trinity Brompton Anglican Church. The Iranian officials can’t have been too happy about that.

Christians and others who care about human rights and religious freedom once again must mobilize to do advocacy for Pastor Nadarkhani, Attorney Dadkhah, and others who are unjustly imprisoned in Iran. For instance, Daftari also reported for Fox News on December 19 on the imprisonment of an American Iranian pastor, Saeed Abedini. Abedini was arrested in September while visiting family in Tehran. He is also being held in Evin Prison where he is awaiting trial.

Not as well known, but desperately needing intervention, is Pastor Benham Irani. CSW tells that Pastor Irani has been in Ghezal Hesar Prison since May 2011, serving a 5 year sentence on trumped up charges of “action against national security” and labeled as an apostate. Irani is in extremely poor health due to frequent brutal beatings by prison guards and other inmates. He has not received medical attention, and is suffering from a blood infection, acute stomach ulcers, and colon complications. Friends and family fear that he will die soon without medical treatment.

Pastor Benham Irani with his family.

Pastor Benham Irani with his family.

“People really got behind Pastor Nadarkhani, and we want you to do the same for Pastor Benham Irani,” declares CSW’s Cry Freedom campaign video. CSW has actions you can take on behalf of Pastor Irani, including writing to the Iranian Judiciary Council and joining the CSW Cry Freedom in Iran Facebook Group.

Once again fighting for the release of Nadarkhani, is The American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ). The ACLJ sponsored a successful Twitter campaign for Pastor Nadarkhani and after his release continued it under the same name, #TweetforYoucef, for Attorney Dadkhah. ACLJ Chief Counsel, recently told Fox News that the ACLJ would “not leave any stone unturned” and that they had their offices all over the world working to secure release for the imprisoned Christians in Iran.