- (Photo: Present Truth Ministries)
Recent reports indicate that Pastor Behnam Irani, who has been held in Iran's Ghezal Hesar prison since 2006 for his Christian faith, is not receiving medical treatment as his health continues to rapidly decline.
Over the past several months, the pastor, who previously led the Church of Iran in the city of Karaj in Alborz Province, has suffered from internal bleeding due to ulcers, complications with his colon, and declining vision.
The only medical assistance the pastor has received from prison authorities includes being provided tablets to stop his internal bleeding, which at one point caused him to lose consciousness.
The pastor's most recent medical complication includes acute lower back pain that has resulted in his inability to walk.
According to the human rights organization Christian Solidarity Worldwide, which has closely monitored Irani's plight, the pastor may die soon if he is not given proper medical treatment due to the severity of his deteriorating health.
"CSW remains deeply concerned at reports of Pastor Irani's declining health and we reiterate our call for the Iranian authorities to allow Pastor Irani to access appropriate medical treatment without further delay," the rights organization said in a statement emailed to The Christian Post.
"CSW also urges the Iranian government to [honor] its obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and facilitate Pastor Irani's unconditional release, along with all others currently detained or facing execution on account of their faith following flawed judicial processes," the group added.
As The Christian Post previously reported, Irani was arrested in December 2006 for running a house church in the country, although his charges were announced as being "action against the state" and "action against the order."
Additionally, the verdict against Irani, which sentenced him to six years, reportedly described him as an apostate, and reiterates that apostates "can be killed."
As Present Truth Ministries notes, the 2008 verdict from Iran's appeals court recommends Irani's prosecutor pursue the death penalty on the grounds of apostasy.
"Considering the explicit confessions of the abovementioned individual (Irani) during the trial, that his father and mother were Muslims and he, himself, also opted for Islam when he reached maturity, and then left the holy religion of Islam and became a Christian. And that he also deceived a group of people into leaving Islam. Therefore as mentioned in [Islamic religious text] … the abovementioned individual is definitely an innate apostate, and the sentence for innate apostasy is death," read the verdict.
Due to the unpredictable nature of Iran's judicial system, critics fear that Irani could face possible execution for being described in court documents as an apostate.
Irani has also reportedly suffered violent attacks during his time in prison, repeatedly receiving beatings from fellow prisoners and prison authorities.