June 30, 2011
According to the respected anti-persecution ministry Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW), an Iranian Christian pastor has been sentenced to death in Iran for, to put it simply, being a Christian.
CSW says that "the death sentence handed down in 2010 for the crime of apostasy, to evangelical house pastor Pastor Yousef Nadarkhani, has reportedly been upheld by the third chamber of the Supreme Court in the Shia holy city of Qom. Pastor Yousef Nadarkhani of the Church of Iran denomination was arrested in his home city of Rasht on 13 October 2009 while attempting to register his church. His arrest is believed to have been due to his questioning of the Muslim monopoly on the religious instruction of children in Iran."
According to the Voice of Martyrs, With (Pastor Nadarkhanis) sentence now upheld and confirmed, it is possible that the authorities will ask him to recant his faith and execute him without advance notice if he refuses --- a typical pattern of action taken by authorities in such cases.
This death sentence has been issued despite Iran being a signatory of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, whose Article 18 states:
Everyone shall have the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion. This right shall include freedom to have or to adopt a religion or belief of his choice, and freedom, either individually or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in worship, observance, practice and teaching.
A major spike in the harassment and arrest of Iranian Christians in recent months is revealing just how nervous the Islamic republic is about the prodigious success of house churches, say Iranian Christian leaders. At least 202 Christians in 24 cities faced arbitrary arrest between June 2010 and January 2011, according to Elam Ministries. Elam, run by Iranian expatriates, counted 80 arrests over 2008 and 2009 combined.
You can express your concern for Pastor Nadarkhani and ask for his release by calling the Iranian Interest Section at the Embassy of Pakistan in Washington, DC at (202) 965-4990. You can also contact the Permanent Mission of the Islamic Republic of Iran at the United Nations: Email - firstname.lastname@example.org; Phone - (212) 687-2020.