#Human Rights
Ahmed Shaheed, UN, UNHCHR, State Department, EU, Navi Pillay, Ban Ki-Moon, European Parliament

Update: August 10, 2012: The Islamic Republic of Iran's Court of Appeals has upheld Farshid Fathi's six-year prison sentence. He needs our help more than ever before!

Update: April 22, 2012: According to reports Farshid Fathi has been sentenced to six years imprisonment. See below for full update.

February 18, 2012: The trial of Farshid Fathi, a Christian convert who has been held in prison for more than a year, has finally been held after being postponed several times for various reasons.

Mohabat News, mohabatnews.com citing “a knowledgeable source” who sent a report to the agency, Fathi had been arrested more than a year ago during a raid by security authorities in Tehran.

According to this report, the trial, which had been postponed several times, was eventually held on February 5, in a Revolutionary Court based in Tehran’s notorious Evin prison.

Mohabat News said it is being reported that the court will deliver its verdict to Fathi's attorney in three months. However, according to the penal code in Iran, the judge is obliged to issue the verdict not more than one week after the inquiries are completed.

“It seems that such illegal actions had been carried out by security and Revolutionary Courts officials in order to cause the prisoner more serious mental harm. Such actions are regarded as torture from the perspective of a prisoner,” the agency reported on its website.

Mohabat News explained that near the end of last year, when the Norouz celebrations of 1390 (Persian year) were at hand, security authorities informed Mr. Fathi's family that he could be temporarily released after submitting a bail of 200 million Tomans (equal to $200,000 USD according to the exchange rates of that time).

“But when Fathi was ready for his release at the appointed time, and even had collected all his personal belongings from the prison guards and was at the door, they prevented him from leaving the prison in order to make a negative mental impact on him,” the agency said.

The agency added: “This Christian convert is now being held in the general ward of the prison. It is also reported that he is in a good health condition and his family is allowed to visit him according to prison laws.”

Mohabat News stated that Fathi was arrested as part of a broad-planned attack by security authorities on December 26, 2010, right before New Year celebrations.

“At the same time as this attack, a large number of other Christian citizens and members of house churches were also arrested in Tehran and other cities. A majority of these detainees were temporarily released on heavy bails after some months,” the agency reported.

Farshid Fathi, who is 33 and the father of two children, was held in solitary confinement.

“During that time, he was subjected to severe interrogations by Intelligence Ministry's agents. There, he was questioned about who had he shared the gospel with and what foreign contacts he had been in touch with?”

The Mohabat News report continued: “Unfortunately, some people and organizations who are not aware of the facts but who call themselves compassionate towards Christian prisoners, are refusing to give updates in this regard. They even prevent others from publishing news because they think it is not in the interest of Christians and could worsen their situations."

“As a result, some inaccurate reports have been published regarding Farshid Fathi. Although these people try to earn credit for themselves with respect to these prisoners, their ill-advised activities furthers the Iranian government's interest and even contributes to the continued detention of the prisoners.”

Mohabat News commented: “At a time when the General Council of the United Nations has appointed a special rapporteur to investigate human rights in Iran, this ill-informed view has helped enable the Republic Islamic of Iran to remain silent. It fosters a lack of information on the condition of prisoners and also a lack of factual reports to human rights organizations.

“Considering the large number of Christian prisoners that are being held in prisons in different cities across the country, the concern over the condition of these brothers and sisters is not only an issue for their families but it has expanded to become an issue of the whole church of Iran and a continuing prayer request for many believers around the world who share this passion.”

The agency report concluded: “Being transparent and informing the public regarding the condition of Christian prisoners, Mohabat News calls on churches everywhere to pray for the release of Christian prisoners and all other prisoners of conscience and lift their hands to Heaven in unity.”

UPDATE April 22, 2012: According to Iranian Christian news agency, Mohabat News, reports have been received stating that Farshid Fathi, a Christian prisoner, received a 6 year sentence by the Iranian Revolutionary court. This after more than fifteen months of imprisonment and uncertainty.

Farshid Fathi, whose trial had been postponed several times by judicial authorities, was eventually tried on January, 2012 in a court based in Evin prison after more than one year of uncertainty.

Although the details of his court session have not been published, a knowledgeable source according to the issued verdict said that the court announced his accusations as, "action against the regime's security, being in contact with foreign organizations and religious propaganda".

In an email to The Jerusalem Post in August 2012, Jordan Sekulow, executive director of the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ), wrote: “Iran continues to persecute Christians simply because of their religious beliefs. Sadly, this nation is one of the world’s worst offenders when it comes to abusing religious and human rights.”

“Iran would prefer that the outside world never know what’s happening to these pastors – the imprisonment, the torture, and the executions,” Sekulow, whose organization aims to promote religious freedom abroad, said. “Iran must be held accountable for this abhorrent behavior. Iran needs to know that the world is watching.”

We the undersigned demand that the international community bring all possible pressure to bear upon the Islamic Republic of Iran to immediately and unconditionally release Farshid Fathi.

Farshid has been imprisoned solely for the peaceful practice of his Christian faith, thus making his imprisonment illegal under international human rights treaties and covenants to which Iran is a signatory state.

Furthermore, holding him even though he has posted bail is a crude violation of even the Islamic Republic regime's most basic statutes. Worse, the conduct of his trial and the cruel psychological pressures he is being placed under are flagrantly illegal.

The most recent reports are that, after 15 months of illegal detention and agonizing uncertainty, Farshid has been sentenced to six years in prison. This prison sentence is the final act of blatant illegality on the part of the Islamic Republic regime, as it violates Article 56 of the UN Charter, Article 18, Section 1, and Article 19, sections 1 and 2, of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights as well as Article 24 of the Iranian Constitution.

The time is NOW for the international community to act forcefully to let the Islamic Republic regime in Iran know that it's flagrant lawlessness will no longer go without direct consequences to its very legitimacy in the eyes of the international community!

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The Free Iranian Christian Farshid Fathi, Sentenced to Six Years In Prison petition to Ahmed Shaheed, UN, UNHCHR, State Department, EU, Navi Pillay, Ban Ki-Moon, European Parliament was written by John S. Burke and is in the category Human Rights at GoPetition.