An Iranian convert to Christianity serving ten years in prison for “missionary activities” has written an open letter to the Iranian authorities, asking how his Christian activities could be perceived as anti-state.
“Would it even be possible for a committed Christian – who was born and raised in Iran and whose forefathers lived in this land for thousands of years, and who is a servant to the God who has called him to a ministry of reconciliation – to act against the national security of his own country?” wrote Naser Navard Gol-Tapeh, who has been in Tehran’s infamous Evin Prison since January.
“As the charges against me in my indictment states: ‘Action against national security through establishment of house churches’, is the fellowship of a few Christian brothers and sisters in someone’s home, singing worship songs, reading the Bible and worshipping God acting against national security?” he continued.
“Isn’t it a clear violation of civil and human rights, and an absolute injustice, to receive ten-year prison sentence just for organising ‘house churches’, which is a sanctuary sanctified as a place to praise and worship God due to closure of churches in Iran?”
Gol-Tapeh, who turned 57 last week, was first arrested in June 2016 alongside three Azerbaijanis, following a raid on a wedding party.
The four men were sentenced a year later, but the Azerbaijanis have not been forced to return to Iran to serve their sentences.
The ruling in Gol-Tapeh’s case was based on evidence provided by the Ministry of Intelligence. However, the documents containing the evidence were not given to Gol-Tapeh’s lawyer to view, nor were they presented during the trial, according to Mohabat News.
Gol-Tapeh lost his appeal against his sentence in November 2017 and was moved to Evin Prison in January.
He has asked for medical treatment several times but was denied by the authorities, according to Article 18, which reported in April that he may lose all of his teeth if immediate medical treatment was not provided.