Resources updated between Monday, March 06, 2017 and Sunday, March 12, 2017
March 10, 2017
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Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) arrested two Christians – a mother and her son – in late February as part of a brutal crackdown on Catholicism in the country's West Azerbaijan Province.
The family's bibles and literature on Christian theology were also seized during the draconian raid, according to a March 5 report on the website of the Iranian Christian News Agency, Mohabat.
"The arrest of two newly Christian converts – Anousheh Rezabakhsh and Soheil Zargarzadeh (mother and son, respectively) – in Urmia, a northern city in Iran, is very sad and concerning, especially as they both are dealing with health issues. It's been more than two weeks that Iranian authorities have not provided any news on them," Eliot Assoudeh, an Iranian-American academic at University of Nevada, told Fox News on Wednesday.
He said Christianity is the fastest-growing religion in Iran, and many Christian converts "have to risk their lives attending underground churches."
Assoudeh, who recently presented an article on The Islamic Republic of Iran: Between Theocracy and 'Clerical Fascism,' said the U.S. should do more to protect Christians across the world who are under attack.
"The United States, its Western allies, and the international human rights organizations should show their concern, call on the Islamic Republic authorities and demand the immediate release of these two Christians," he said.
The IRGC forced Rezabakhsh and Zargarzadeh, a psychology student, from their home and took them to an undisclosed detention facility. The Mohabat wrote that religious minorities arrested in Urmia "are normally detained in the Revolutionary Guards Intelligence building."
Urmia-a city of nearly 700,000-is famous for housing the Cathedral of St. Mary, the Mother of God whose origin dates back to the 16th century.
Julie Lenarz, the executive director of the London-based Human Security Centre, told FoxNews.com that many Christians "are convicted in sham trials and linger in jail for years as prisoners of conscience. They face harassment, torture or even execution."
She said these groups are specifically targeting converts.
"Leaving Islam or converting to another religion is punishable by death in the Islamic Republic of Iran," Lenarz said.
A recent report by Open Door USA-an organization that tracks the persecution of Christians-ranked Iran as the eighth worst country for Christians.
In December, 19 human rights organization called on international communities to protect the rights of Christians in Iran.
Iran ramped up its persecution of Christians in 2016. In the past year, at least 79 Iranian Christians have been arrested.
"In Iran's post-1979 Revolution, unfortunately, we are dealing with an ideological system based on supremacy of a Shia culture, which has shown hostility towards ethnic and religious minorities," Assoudeh said.
Iran's UN diplomatic missions in New York and Geneva did not immediately return phone calls from Fox News seeking comment.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani is slated to run for reelection in May. Critics say he has hoodwinked the West by depicting himself as a reformer when he is, in fact, a hardliner.
"The Islamic Republic is master of spectacle politics to gain international legitimacy," Assoudeh said. "Last December, in a theatrical ceremony President Hassan Rouhani signed 'Charter on Citizen's Right,' in which there is no indication of rights for citizens to practice their chosen faith."
"He said the Islamic Republic's ideology facilitates a "license to hate" to a "license to kill."
'Look at the mass persecution of religious minorities, including Baha'i people in Iran," he said.
The 125,000-member IRGC has a long record of violently repressing Christians and democracy movements opposed to the mullah-regime. The long arm of the IRGC played a key role in the murder of 19 U.S. military members in the1996 Khobar Tower bombing in Saudi Arabia.
The IRGC also plotted to assassinate the Saudi ambassador to the U.S. in Washington in a high-end Georgetown restaurant in 2011. In 2013, Mannsor Arbabsiar pleaded guilty for his role as the assassin hired to bomb ambassador Adel al-Jubeir. He was sentenced to a 25-year prison term.
President Donald Trump's administration is deliberating over a proposal to classify the IRGC as a terrorist organization.
A spokesman for Rep. Peter Roskam, R-Illinois, said the congressman is pushing to classify the Iranian force as a terror group and supports other sanctions against the Islamic republic as well.
"He believes we should strengthen sanctions against Iran for their support of terrorism, illegal ballistic missile program, and human right record," the spokesman said.
The U.S. Treasury designated the IRGC's Qods Force-an elite commando group-a terrorist entity in 2007.
A Refreshing Change at the U.N. Article
March 7, 2017
March 6, 2017
At least seven prisoners were executed in Iran on Saturday March 4.
Four prisoners, including two women, hanged at Rasht's central prison, Lakan
Gilan province, northern Iran
According to close sources, on the morning of Saturday March 4, four prisoners, including two women, were hanged at Rasht's central prison, Lakan. These four prisoners were reportedly transferred to solitary confinement before their executions. Three of these prisoners were sentenced to death on murder charges, but no information is available for the other prisoner.
Only one of the prisoner names is known, Shah Mohammadi. A fifth prisoner was also transferred with them to solitary confinement, but was transferred back to the prison cell after receiving a postponement approval by the complainants on the case file.
Two prisoners hanged at Urmia's central prison, Darya
West Azerbaijan province, northwestern Iran
According to a report by the human rights new site, HRANA, on the morning of Saturday March 4, a prisoner was hanged at Shahroud Prison (Semnan province, northern Iran) on drug related charges. The prisoner has been identified as Ismael Arab Zamani, sentenced to death on the charge of possession and trafficking one kilogram and 800 grams of crystal meth.
Prisoner hanged at Shahroud Prison
Semnan province, northern Iran
According to another report by HRANA, at least two prisoners were hanged on the morning of Saturday March 4 in Urmia's central prison, Darya, on drug related charges. The prisoners have been identified as Naji Payam and Eshgh Ali (also known as Ashkan). The report suggests there may have been a third prisoner who was also executed along with Mr. Payam and Ali.