Persecuted Brethren

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Missing Attorney Alive! Date: March 31, 2010 Country: China

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According to a report by ChinaAid, Gao Zhisheng spoke to his wife and children on March 28 for the first time since his abduction by Chinese police on Feb. 4, 2009.
Gao spoke briefly with reporters from the Associated Press and Reuters by phone, informing them that he had been released from detention six months ago and had taken up residence at Wutai Shan mountain, a Buddhist landmark in northern Shanxi province. He refused to give details on his condition, saying he could not legally give interviews. According to others who have been in contact with Zhisheng, he remains under close surveillance by Chinese authorities.
Gao’s wife, Geng He, and children expressed great relief and joy at being able to speak with him. Geng He hopes that her husband will be allowed to rejoin her and their children in the United States soon.

EXPELLED LAOTIAN BELIEVERS URGENTLY NEED OUR PRAYERS March 17, 2010

Last month, the Be-A-Voice Network asked you to pray for a group of Laotian Christians who were expelled from Katin village. When the Christians refused to renounce their faith, local authorities forced them to walk six kilometers outside the village, where they were abandoned without food or shelter.
VOM contacts now report that these believers need our urgent prayer. On March 15, seven Katin believers were summoned to the district office of Ta-Oyl district. The district head of Ta-Oyl, Mr. Bounma, urged the seven believers to reconsider their decision to follow the Christian faith. When the Christians again refused to renounce their faith, the district head stated that although the Lao constitution and law provide for freedom of religion in Laos, he is not going to allow Christianity in his district. The district head was adamant that if the Katin believers refuse to give up their Christian faith, they will be forced to move to districts that tolerate Christianity. The Katin believers later learned that the officials plan to burn down their temporary shelters along with 11 temporary homes under construction at the site where they were taken on Jan. 10.

Please pray for these believers as authorities continue to threaten their lives and belongings. Pray for their safety and health; many are sick and in need of medical treatment.

Christian Abducted Date: March 10, 2010 Country: Vietnam

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A Vietnamese tribal Christian, Ksor Ju, was abducted on Jan. 26 by two security police for unknown reasons, according to the Montagnard Foundation.

In January, Ksor Ju, 37, was ordered to report to the police station in Song Hinh District, Phu Yen province, for questioning. On Jan. 26 at about 8 a.m., Ksor Ju and his 17-year-old daughter, Nai H’Yam, set out for the police station on foot. They were met by two Vietnamese security police, who handcuffed and arrested Ksor Ju. The police tied Ksor Ju to their motorcycle and dragged him away while his teenage daughter watched in horror. The same day, about 30 security police searched and ransacked his house and threatened his family.

Ksor Ju’s arrest is thought to be linked to issues of religious freedom, as the communist Vietnamese government has brutally suppressed house church Christians for decades. Ksor Ju’s whereabouts remain unknown at last report.

Christian Man Beaten Date: March 03, 2010 Country: Pakistan

A 26-year-old Christian, Riaz Masih, was beaten by his four older brothers last month because he refused to convert to Islam, according to Compass Direct News.

Riaz and his brothers were raised by a Muslim cleric, Moulvi Peer Akram-Ullah, after their Christian parents died. While his brothers all converted to Islam, Riaz remained firm in his Christian faith. His continual refusal to convert to Islam infuriated his brothers and Akram-Ullah.

On Feb. 8, the brothers ransacked Riaz’ house in the Punjab Province and beat him unconscious with bamboo clubs after he again refused to convert to Islam. “They said killing an infidel is not a sin; instead it’s righteousness in the sight of Allah,” Riaz told Compass. “They vented their fury and left me, thinking that I was dead, but God Almighty resuscitated me to impart his good news of life,” he said.

Riaz remains in hiding for fear that his brothers and Akram-Ullah will kill him if they find him.

Christians Banished Date: February 24, 2010 Country: Laos

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In January, 48 Christians were forced from their homes by more than 100 officials and villagers in Katin village, Saravan province, Laos, according to Compass Direct News. After gathering for Sunday worship, the believers were expelled from their church at gunpoint and taken to an open field. Officials then confiscated personal belongings from 11 Christians’ homes, and six of the homes were later destroyed. Officials also took a pig, worth the equivalent of six weeks’ salary, from one of the believers. When the Christians refused to renounce their faith, they were forced to walk six kilometers outside the village and were left at the side of the road. Officials have posted police at the entrance to the village to prevent the Christians from returning home or retrieving their valuables. At last report, the believers were sleeping on the ground in the woods with barely any food or survival supplies.

BANGLADESH: Muslim Pilgrims Beat Bible Student

Throng from annual event threatens to kill 20-year-old as he distributes Christian literature.

DHAKA, Bangladesh, February 5 (Compass Direct News) – Pilgrims to a massive Islamic conference near this capital city on Sunday (Feb. 1) beat and threatened to kill a Bible school student as he distributed Christian literature.

bangladeshi
Rajen Murmo

Rajen Murmo, 20, a student at Believers’ Church Bible College, was distributing the 32-page books among Muslims near the school along with 25 other students in Uttara town in northern Dhaka, just a few kilometers from the banks of a river in Tongi where the government claimed that 4 million Muslim pilgrims had gathered. They had massed for the annual, three-day World Muslim Congregation (Bishwa Ijtema).
Murmo told Compass that a man with a ragged beard in a loose white garment and white trousers, along with some other men, approached the students and told them Muslims did not abide by the Bible because the Quran had superseded it, rendering it outdated.
“Suddenly some of his outrageous entourage grasped me and asked where I got the books and who gave me the books. They wanted to know the address of my religious leaders and mission, but I did not give them the address,” said Murmo. “If I had given them the address of the Bible college, they would have destroyed it. My blank denial to give information to them made them enraged, and they started beating me. They told me if I do not give the address of the religious leaders and mission, they would kill me.”
A throng of more than 50 raucous Muslims kicked, slapped and punched him, he said, leaving him with a split lip. Clutching his collar and tearing his shirt, they insisted that he give them the school’s address and that of his mission and Christian leaders; as he continued to refuse, their anger further flared, he said. A patrolling vehicle from the elite force Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) consisting of army, navy, air force and police appeared and rescued him, Murmo said.
Later the mob persuaded the elite force to send him to a nearby police station, he said, and principal Amos Deory of the Bible college went to release him. Deory told Murmo that police officers expressed concern that if the RAB agents had not arrived in time, the angry pilgrims would have killed him.
The Rev. Kiron Roaza of Believers’ Church told Compass that the Bible students were distributing the tracts as part of their regular evangelistic tasks. He said the beating was unwarranted as Bangladesh’s constitution provides for the right to propagate one’s faith.
Bangladeshi Muslims equate the annual World Muslim Congregation or Bishwa Ijtema with the hajj, the pilgrimage to Islam’s birthplace in Mecca, Saudi Arabia that last year was held Dec. 6-10. The Bangladeshi gathering just north of Dhaka, at which Muslims pray and listen to Islamic scholars from around the world, was first held in the 1960s.
The event was launched by Tabligh Jamaat, a missionary and revival group that shuns politics and urges Muslims to follow Islam in their everyday lives. Its stated purpose is to revive the tenets of Islam and promote peace and harmony. More than 10,000 foreigners from 108 countries attended the event, according to media reports, but most of the worshippers were rural Bangladeshis. Bangladesh is the world’s third-largest Muslim-majority nation, with Muslims making up nearly 90 percent of its population of 150 million.
The Quran calls on all Muslims to make the pilgrimage to Mecca if they have the means. The date changes from year to year based on the Islamic lunar calendar. The official SPA news agency of Saudi Arabia reported the total number of pilgrims to Mecca at nearly 2.4 million, about 1.73 million from abroad and 679,000 from within the kingdom, mostly foreign residents.

Iraqi Christians Date: February 2010

Terrorists threatened to kill Pastor “Hakim.” His relatives pleaded with him to go somewhere safe. But God called him to minister in Iraq. Pastor Hakim and his wife trusted God more than they feared for their safety.

Pastor HakimOne Sunday morning while Hakim was driving to work, three armed men confronted him with guns drawn. They ordered him to stop, but Hakim knew to stop the car meant he would die. Instead, he gunned the engine. The terrorists opened fire, and three shots hit Pastor Hakim. Later, at the hospital, his Muslim doctors said it was a miracle that none of the bullets hit a major organ or artery. After the shooting, Hakim continued his ministry in Iraq.

Church bombings, pastor assassinations and kidnappings have forced many Iraqi Christians to flee Iraq’s major cities yet, they still proclaim Christ. Christians like Pastor Hakim and his family have stayed in Iraq despite the violence, and they also courageously share Christ’s love and forgiveness with their Muslim neighbors, even those who threaten to harm them.

Christian Homes Attacked  Date: January 27, 2010  Country: Mexico

On Jan. 13, about 200 traditionalist Catholics destroyed 13 homes belonging to evangelical Christians in the Los Llanos community of San Juan Chamula, Chiapas, according to VOM contacts. Led by community officials and the local catechist (layperson who teaches catechism), the traditionalists armed themselves with clubs, hammers and crowbars before tearing down the houses. More than 50 men, women and children were left homeless and exposed to the highland region’s frigid temperatures.

On Sept. 24, 2009, traditionalists had demanded that evangelical Christians leave the community because they refused to contribute money for traditional celebrations and because they do not support the anti-government Zapatista rebels. Esdras Alonso, a lawyer and evangelical leader in the region, said the traditionalists had insisted that evangelical Christians in Los Llanos renounce their religious beliefs to support the Zapatistas.

The traditionalists, who practice a combination of indigenous ritual and Roman Catholicism, have for several years pressured evangelicals to support the local festivals and join them in support of the National Zapatista Liberation Army (EZLN).

Abducted Christians Alive   Date: January 13, 2010  Country: Yemen

Six Christian hostages abducted in Yemen more than six months ago are still alive, according to the German evangelical news agency IDEA. A German Christian family of five, including three children, and a British engineer were abducted in northern Yemen. Johannes and Sabine Hentschel and their children, Lydia (5), Anna (3) and Simon (1), were kidnapped along with a British engineer in mid-June during an outing near Sa’dah. Two German Bible school students and a South Korean teacher who were with them on the outing were found murdered on June 12. The nine Christians had been working at the Al Jumhuri Hospital in Sa’dah.
Deputy Prime Minister Rashad al-Alaimi has confirmed reports that the German family and the British engineer are in the hands of Shiite Houthi rebels. The Germans were forced to care for wounded fighters, he said in the capital Sanaa.
The German foreign office would neither confirm nor deny the report, according to IDEA.

Violence Intensifies Date: January 06, 2010 Country: Iraq

Attacks against Iraqi Christians appear to be increasing, according to AsiaNews. On Dec. 30, a Christian deacon, Zhaki Homo Bashir, was shot by a group of unknown men as he entered his shop in the district of al Jadida, in Mosul. He was seriously injured and was taken to a hospital. AsiaNews also received a report that a Christian was killed on Christmas Eve; Basil Isho Youhanna was shot in front of his house in northern Mosul.

Mosul has been the target of several church bombings in recent months. In two separate incidents, two churches were bombed in Mosul on Dec. 23, killing one Christian and two Muslims and leaving several injured. On Dec. 15, two churches and a school were targeted in bomb attacks, killing one and wounding 40. Two other churches were bombed on Nov. 26.

AsiaNews quoted an anonymous source in Mosul as saying, “The Christian community is destined to die

Attack on Christians Date: December 28, 2009 Country: Iran

On Dec.17, a gathering of more than 70 new Christian converts was attacked by security police and undercover officers in the city of Karaj in the province of Tehran, according to the Farsi Christian News Network (FCNN). Two leaders were arrested and taken to an undisclosed location. The Christians had gathered to celebrate Christmas and the New Year.

Security officers photographed and videotaped everyone and demanded that they remain available for interrogation. In addition, the Christians were ordered to present themselves to authorities upon receiving orders to do so. The security officers also confiscated Bibles, other Christian books and a laptop computer.

At last report, the two arrested leaders, Kambiz Saghaee and Ali Keshvar-Doost, were still being held at an undisclosed location. Their families and loved ones have had no contact with them.

Jesus Film Attack  Date: December 23, 2009 Country: Pakistan

On Dec. 9, about 50 Muslim villagers armed with clubs and axes entered the Catholic Church of Chak during a showing of the “Jesus Film” and attacked three evangelists and four other Christians, according to Compass News Direct.

Two of the evangelists, Imtiaz Ghauri and Kaleem Ghulam, were said to be seriously injured. Ishtiaq Bhatti and the other Christians received minor injuries. The Muslim attackers also damaged a movie projector, burned reels of the film and stole the public address system and donations.

Eyewitnesses told Compass that some of the Muslim villagers who had gathered outside the church climbed trees to view the film through the windows. The attack began after the Muslims became enraged at the depiction of the resurrection and ascension of Christ. Their version of Islam forbids portraying an image of a living thing, especially that of a prophet.

Officers at the police station refused to register a case against the Muslim assailants, sources said.

Eritrea

Eritrea

Severe Persecution   Date: December 16, 2009  Country: Eritrea

Eritrean Christians have endured persecution since May 2002, when President Isaias Afewerki’s totalitarian regime banned all religions except state-approved Islam and a few “official” Christian denominations (Eritrean Orthodoxy, Roman Catholicism and Lutheranism), according to a report by Assist News Service (ANS). In 2006, the regime seized control of the large Eritrean Orthodox Church and arrested anyone who protested. In addition, leaders of a renewal movement within the EOC have been arrested and accused of heresy.

Today, some 3,000 Eritrean Christians are imprisoned in the most appalling conditions in underground cells, secret prisons and shipping containers in the desert. Torture is routine, and several Christians have died after refusing to sign a form renouncing their faith.

Eritrea’s support for regional terrorists and rebels, as well as its human rights abuses have finally drawn the attention of the UN, which is now drafting punitive measures against the regime. (see one story below from this country)

Church's-destroyed

China Update: Church Leaders Sentenced to Re-Education Labor without Trial

On Nov. 25, five Linfen-Fushan church leaders from Shanxi Province were sentenced to criminal detention for three to seven years: Mr. Li Shuangping, Ms. Yang Hongzhen, Ms. Yang Caizhen, Ms. Gao Qin and Ms. Zhao Guoai, according to China Aid Association. Among the five, ChinaAid has confirmed through family members that Yang Caizhen, Yang Hongzhen and Li Shuangping received two-year, re-education through labor sentences. The two remaining cases were confirmed indirectly by church members. It was not possible to obtain confirmation from family members because they have been held under strict government surveillance.

The five church leaders were accused of “gathering people to disturb the public order,” because they organized a prayer rally on Sept. 14, the day after 400 military police raided the church’s grounds. During the raid, more than 30 believers were seriously wounded and 17 church buildings were destroyed.


Sandra Gil

Sandra Gil

Colombia

Persecuted Christians Imprisoned November 19 – Sixteen Kogui Christians were imprisoned on October 27 because, according to the indigenous leaders, any Kogui who decides to become a Christian immediately loses their identity as a native, thus losing their rights and their freedom. Community leaders believe Christianity undermines Kogui customs, and this is unacceptable to them.

North Korea

Desperate Situation November 18 – Two North Korean Christian women under ministry care were arrested and repatriated back to North Korea. One North Korean believer who made his way to China stayed at a ministry shelter.
While at the shelter, security agents conducted a sudden house search. Even though he was standing right in front of them, God blinded the eyes of the security agents and the believer experienced the living God and was very much encouraged from it.

Osman Imin

Osman Imin

China
Uyghur Church Leader Released From Prison
November 24 – A Uyghur Christian in the Xinjiang region was released on Nov. 18 after serving two years in a labor camp for alleged “illegal proselytizing” and “leaking state secrets.” House church leader Osman Imin was serving a 10-15 year prison sentence but authorities significantly reduced the term following international media attention.

Silvia Merry Sarker

Silvia Merry Sarker

BANGLADESH

Court Impedes Effort to Rescue Kidnapped Girl
November 3 (Compass) – A young Christian girl on her way home from school in west Sujankathi village was abducted and forced to convert to Islam and marry one of her kidnappers. Police  arrested three of the four Muslim suspects who abducted eighth-grade student Silvia Merry Sarker on July 30. However, the court released them quickly on bail, making it difficult to find the girl. Her father said the kidnapping was part of an attempt to take over his land and property.

Damage to Church in Uganda

Damage to Church in Uganda

UGANDA

Muslims Attack Worship Service November 11 (Compass) –
About 40 Muslim extremists with machetes and clubs tried to break into a Sunday worship service outside the capital city of Kampala on Nov. 1, leaving a member of the congregation with several injuries and damaging the church building. Congregants are living in fear, said Pastor Henry Zaake, noting that on Sunday (Nov. 8), attendance decreased from 250 to 100 people.

Muslim Violence Ongoing Date: December 02, 2009 Country: Egypt

Mulsim violence in Egypt

Mulsim violence in Egypt

Muslim rioters looted and burned Coptic Christian businesses on Nov. 23 in the village of Abou Shousha, according to Assist News Service (ANS). The Middle East Christian Association (MECA) reported that at least three large Coptic stores and a pharmacy were looted and burned.

According to a story by Mary Abdelmassih for the Assyrian International News Agency, “The terrorized Coptic inhabitants of Abou Shousha have stayed indoors; their shops are closed and their children are being kept out of school. They fear a repeat in their village of the Muslim violence which engulfed the nearby town of Farshoot less than 36 hours earlier. It is estimated that over 80% of Coptic businesses have been destroyed in Farshoot.”

The violence in Farshoot was prompted by reports that a 21-year-old Copt had violated a 12-year-old Muslim girl on Nov. 18. Many Copts believe the incident is being used by Muslims as a pretext for violence against them.

Escalating Terror Date: November 18, 2009 Country: Russian Federation

Christian churches in Russia’s North Caucasus region (between the Caspian and Black Seas) are struggling amid the terror and trauma of the Islamic jihad and counterinsurgency, according to reports from Assist News Service (ANS). As the jihad intensifies, the future of the North Caucasus and its tenuous grip on religious freedom hang in the balance. The jihadists are foreign-backed Wahhabists who are linked to al-Qaeda, and many of them are foreigners. Fighting under the black flag of the “Caucasus Emirate,” they have escalated their attacks dramatically through the summer of 2009.

The remnant Russian Orthodox Church has ethnic ties and is closely associated with Moscow and the Russian army. The Protestants are mostly Baptist and Pentecostal. In some places, particularly in Chechnya, jihadists have totally eliminated the Christian presence. President Ramzan Kadyrov’s heavy hand in Chechnya has forced the terrorists to shift the focus of their jihad to neighboring Ingushetia.

Christian Woman Killed Date: November 11, 2009 Country: Somalia

Three masked members of a militant Islamic group shot to death a Somali Christian who declined to wear a veil as prescribed by Muslim custom, according to a Compass News Direct source in Somalia.
Members of the Suna Waljameca group killed Amina Muse Ali, 45, on Oct. 19 at 9:30 p.m. in her home in Somalia’s autonomous Puntland region, according to the source.

Ali had told Christian leaders she had received several threats from members of Suna Waljameca for not wearing a veil, symbolic of adherence to Islam. She said members of the group had long monitored her movements because they suspected she was a Christian.

The source said Ali called him on Oct. 4 saying, “My life is in danger. I am warned of dire consequences if I continue to live without putting on the veil. I need prayers from the fellowship.”
“I was shocked beyond words when I received the news that she had been shot dead,” the source in Somalia told Compass by telephone.


Radical Hindu group

Radical Hindu group

On Oct. 18, a radical Hindu group, Rashtriya Swayam Sevaks (RSS), viciously attacked three pastors, one woman and one child while they were having a prayer service in Hyderabad, Andra Pradesh state.
About 40 believers were gathered in Siluvai Kumar’s house for the prayer service, according to VOM contacts. At 9 p.m., RSS radicals barged into the house and began beating people. Pastors Phillip, Timothy and Siluvai Kumar were badly injured. The radicals also beat Pastor Phillip’s pregnant wife, Kezia, and their 18-month-old daughter. Bibles were destroyed and musical instruments, metal doors and windows in the house were damaged.
Pastor Timothy was dragged to the police station where the radicals lodged a false complaint against him alleging he urinated on idols in a nearby temple. The police detained the pastor but he was later released.
RSS activists had warned the pastors against having prayer meetings in the area.

Eritrean torchure

Eritrean torchure

On July 23, Yemane Kahasay Andom, a Christian imprisoned for his faith in Eritrea, died after authorities denied him medical treatment, according to Compass Direct News.
Two weeks prior to his death, Yemane was allegedly weakened by continuous physical torture and solitary confinement because he refused to sign a recantation form. Though Compass reports it is not clear what the contents of the recantation form were, most Christians interpret the signing of such a form as the denouncement of their faith in Christ.
The Eritrean government persecutes Christians, often placing believers in metal containers like those pictured that are very hot during the day and cold at night. Nearly 1,800 Eritrean Christians are believed to be detained because of their religious beliefs. Jailed Christians are routinely subjected to physical beatings and severe psychological pressure to deny their religious beliefs.
Yemane is reportedly the third Christian to die in Eritrean prisons this year.

Prisoner Profile
PRISONER NAME LOCATION ARRESTED REVISED

Le Thi Cong Nhan

Le Thi Cong Nhan

Le Thi Cong Nhan Vietnam March 2007 November 17, 2009
In May 2007, Le Thi Cong Nhan, a Vietnamese Christian and lawyer, was sentenced to four years in prison followed by three years of house arrest. Nhan was arrested and sentenced alongside Nguyen Van Dai, a Protestant church leader and lawyer. They are accused of a wide range of crimes; such as “conspiring with terrorists, in their efforts to promote human rights efforts, including religious rights and democracy.” They are also accused of compiling “evidence of Vietnam’s suppression of the Protestant religion and providing it to the U.S.-based Committee for Religious Freedom in Vietnam and the U.S. embassy.” Following Nhan and Dai’s sentencing, the Vietnamese state news agency accused the lawyers of “posting information on the internet € [and] painting biased and distorted pictures of the country and its internal affairs.

Nguyen Van Dai

Nguyen Van Dai

Nguyen Van Dai Vietnam March 2007 November 17, 2009In May 2008, Nguyen Van Dai, a Vietnamese Protestant church leader and lawyer, was sentenced to five years in prison and followed by four years of house arrest. Nguyen was accused of a wide range of crimes, including “conspiring with terrorists, in their efforts to promote human rights efforts, including religious rights and democracy.” He was also accused of compiling “evidence of Vietnam’s suppression of the Protestant religion and providing it to the U.S.-based Committee for Religious Freedom in Vietnam and the U.S. embassy.”

Gao Zhisheng

Gao Zhisheng

Gao Zhisheng China February 2009 November 17, 2009
On Feb. 4, Gao Zhisheng, was abducted by Chinese secret police from his hometown. Since 2005, Gao has been repeatedly arrested, imprisoned and severely tortured by Chinese authorities, mostly for his work defending Chinese Christians. In 2006, he and a group of prominent human rights lawyers created the Association of Human Rights Attorneys for Chinese Christians. In 2007, he was arrested and spent over 50 days behind bars where he was tortured. “I was beaten so badly that my whole body began shaking uncontrollably on the floor,” Gao writes of his torture in an open letter.The Chinese government does not acknowledge that Gao is in one of their prisons, as a result his letters of encouragement are being mailed to the Chinese embassy in Washington DC.

Asia Bibi

Asia Bibi

Asia Bibi, a 37-year-old Pakistani woman from the village of Ittanwali, was arrested by police on Friday, June 19, and faces possible blasphemy charges. Asia is the wife of 50-year-old Ashiq Masih, and their family is one of only three Christian families in a village of more than 1,500 families.

Many of the local women work on the farm of Muslim landowner Muhammad Idrees, including Asia. During their work many of the Muslim women have pressured Asia to renounce Christianity and accept Islam. In June, the pressure became especially strong.

On Friday, June 19, there was an intense discussion among the women about their faith, with the Muslim women telling Asia about Islam. Asia responded by telling them about her faith in Christ. Asia told the Muslim women Christ had died on the cross for our sins, then asked them what Mohammed had done for them, according to VOM sources. She told them Jesus is alive, but Mohammed is dead. “Our Christ is the true prophet of God,” she reportedly told them, “and yours is not true.”

Upon hearing this response the Muslim women became angry and began to beat Asia Bibi. Then some men came and took her and locked her in a room. They announced from mosque loudspeakers that she would be punished by having her face blackened and being paraded through the village on a donkey. Local Christians informed the police, who took Asia into custody before the Muslims could carry out their plan. She is currently being held at the police station in Nankana city. Christians there urged the police not to file blasphemy charges, but police claimed that they must go forward due to pressure from local Muslim leaders.

Marzieh Amirizadeh Esmaeilabad and Maryam Rustampoor

Marzieh Amirizadeh Esmaeilabad and Maryam Rustampoor

Update: These women were released see Signs of the Times story

On March 5, Marzieh Amirizadeh Esmaeilabad and Maryam Rustampoor were arrested by Iranian security forces and labeled “anti-government activists,” according to Farsi Christian News Network (FCNN).
Thirty year-old Marzieh and 27-year-old Maryam are being held at Evin Prison, which is notorious for treating women badly. “Both women are allowed just a one-minute telephone call everyday to their immediate families. Both are unwell and in need of urgent medical attention,” FCNN reported. During their last call on March 28, Mazieh said that she was suffering from an infection and high fever. She said, “I am dying.”
Marzieh and Maryam’s apartment was searched and their belongings were confiscated. “Their only crime is that they are committed Christians who follow the teachings of Jesus,” FCNN added. “They are being unfairly labeled as ‘anti government activists’ because of the hostility of the government towards practicing Christians.”
The women have reportedly been interrogated numerous times and were held in three different police detention centers before being sent to Evin Prison. FCNN reported an exorbitant bail amount of US$ 400,000 has been set even though Marzieh and Maryam’s families have been told on numerous occasions that a judge is not available to discuss the case.
Marzieh and Maryam’s arrest is the latest incident highlighting increased government intimidation of Christians in Iran. Believers are subjected to surveillance, arrests, imprisonment, and sometimes torture.
Meanwhile on Aug. 8, Marzieh and Maryam were summoned to an Iranian court and ordered to deny their faith verbally and in a written statement. Praise God, they stood firm and replied, “We love Jesus. We will not deny our faith.” They have been sent back to Evin prison.

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