Iran Police Tortures And Detains Couple For Converting To Christianity

Thursday, June 26, 2008

By BosNewsLife News Center

TEHRAN, IRAN (BosNewsLife) -- Iranian security police in Tehran have detained and tortured a married couple who recently converted from Islam to Christianity and threatened to put their 4-year-old daughter in an institution, a Christian news agency reported late Wednesday, June 25.

Well-informed Compass Direct News, which investigates reports of persecution, said Tina Rad, 28, and her husband Makan Arya, 31, were arrested June 3 after holding Bible studies and attending a house church. A relative apparently informed Iran's security police about their activities.

Rad was reportedly charged with "activities against the holy religion of Islam" for reading the Bible with Muslims in her home in east Tehran and trying to convert them, while officials accused Arya of "activities against national security." The couple was allegedly also forced to leave their 4-year-old ill daughter unattended. In addition, police confiscated their personal computer, satellite dish and television set, as well as all books, videos, CDs, DVDs and even a photo album, Compass Direct News said.
A source with close knowledge about the situation, speaking apparently on condition of anonymity, said authorities kept them in an unknown jail for four days, which left "them badly bruised from beatings," with Rad "very ill" and unable to walk, Compass Direct News reported. Rad was released on bail of $30,000 bail, and her husband was freed on payment of $20,000, the news agency said. It was not immediately clear who, if anyone, provided the funds.


"The next time there may also be an apostasy charge, if you don’t stop with your Jesus," a female security police officer allegedly told Rad during interrogation. Under Iran ’s strict Islamic laws, Muslims who convert from Islam to another religion can be executed.  A draft law before the Iranian parliament would make the death penalty mandatory for “apostates” who leave Islam.

"They went to a court hearing just for show,” the source was quoted as saying, “as secret police had already taken their signatures by force with a statement that they had not changed their religion." More legal troubles could await the couple, who accepted "Christ as their personal Lord and Savior" some three months ago, a local source said.

A female security police official allegedly warned Rad that if she and her husband continued attending a house church and holding Bible studies, they could be imprisoned "for a very long time" and would lose their daughter, Odzhan Arya. An officer also told Rad that authorities could concoct a drug case against them, “and you will be punished as drug smugglers,” Compass Direct News reported.


A male security police official also threatened Rad saying that "if she doesn’t cooperate and tell some names and addresses, she won’t see her daughter for a long time," a source was quoted as saying. "They said, 'Next time if we catch you, you are going to miss your whole family forever.’"

The couple and their 4-year old daughterAn officer allegedly also told Arya that authorities could place his daughter "in a protected religious institution." Iranian officials had no comment. The latest developments come amid reports however that an increasing number of Muslims turn to Christianity in Iran.

The couple was reportedly forced to sign a statement that they wouldn’t go back to their house church and that they would have no contact with other Chris tians – and that if they did, “they will be punished by the law of Islam."

"The charges and forced statements seem to contravene the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Iran is a party, giving it the force of law. Article 18 of the covenant stipulates that everyone shall have the right to adopt a religion or belief, as well as freedom individually or in community in public or private to manifest one’s religion or belief in worship, observance, practice and teaching," Compass Direct News commented.


The couple would forfeit their bail and their freedom if secret religious police catch them engaged in Chris tian activities, they were reportedly told in the court before their release.

"They were tortured psychologically and physically," the source reportedly told Compass Direct News. "There are a lot of blue places on their bodies. Tina can’t walk well and is very ill, and her husband Makan is still very shocked. [She] is very sick, and because of the pain on the right side of her head from the torture, and the shock of the whole situation, she can’t leave the house and their daughter." Their communications are believed to be monitored by secret police.

Following their arrest, the husband and wife reportedly were also threatened by family and area Muslims. In order to make the bail payments, Arya obtained financial help from his father – on the condition that he promise to divorce his wife. "So he did [promise], and now of course he refuses to divorce...His father gave him an ultimatum, there is discrimination even in the family against them," the source said.


After their release, the couple reportedly found the window of their clothing shop had been smashed. "Almost the whole street knows about them, so imagine how difficult their business is. They want to change the shop and go somewhere else. Every day and night they get some calls from unknown people, and their life at this moment is under invisible and visible surveillance," Compass Direct News quoted its source as saying.

On Monday, June 23, Arya apparently received letters at both the clothing shop and his home stating that he must place evidence on his new window pane indicating his Islamic faith by displaying a statement and photos, or else he would have to buy a new window every day. The source was quoted as saying that  Arya displayed a photo of Islamic leaders on the window, "but they want to go somewhere else."

Arya went to area police asking for protection, the source said, "but they told him not to lie and to ‘go do something about it if you are a real believer of Islam.’"

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