Andrew Johnston, advocacy director of Christian Solidarity Worldwide, and Mansour Borji, pastor of the Iranian Church in London, told the European Parliament’s Iran Delegation on Tuesday that the situation facing the evangelical church in Iran right now is “dire.”
The meeting was chaired by German MEP Barbara Lochbihler, who is closely involved in EU-Iran relations, and has made numerous appeals for clemency for Iranians sentenced to death.
During the meeting, Pastor Borji gave an account of the “appalling” conditions in which 26 Christians are currently being held because of their faith by the Iranian authorities.
They are just some of the 202 Christians known to have been arrested and detained across Iran since last June.
On January 4, the governor General of Tehran, Morteza Tamadon, declared that the “final blow towards [Christians] is imminent” and denounced evangelical churches as “false, deviant and corrupt sects.”
The crackdown on the church contradicts the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), which guarantees freedom of religious belief and of which Iran is a signatory.
CSW asked the EU to endorse its latest report on Iran, which calls for an investigation into the Iranian government’s use of the death penalty, and charges of apostasy against converts from Islam.
Mr Johnston said it was “heartening” to know that the rights of religious minorities in Iran were being taken seriously by Mrs Lochbihler and the EU.
“As part of its work in the region, CSW along with partners such as the Iranian Church, will continue to advocate for the rights of Christians and other religious minorities there,” he said.
“We will do all in our power to see the end of unjust arrests and imprisonment on the basis of religious belief, and we will continue to work together with all those who share this goal.”