Grave Concerns for Health of Iranian Pastor Benham Irani
By Michael Ireland Senior International Correspondent, ASSIST News Service
KARAJ, IRAN (ANS) -- Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) www.csw.org.uk says it is gravely concerned about the health of Pastor Benham Irani, who reportedly lost consciousness three days ago.
Pastor Benham Irani with his family.
(Courtesy Present Truth Ministries).
In a media update, CSW says that although Pastor Irani has now regained consciousness, his health is said to be declining steadily as a result of the harsh treatment he has endured in Karaj's Ghezel Hesar Prison, where he is serving a five-year sentence.
Benham Irani pastors the Church of Iran in Karaj, was arrested in December 2006, and sentenced to six years imprisonment on charges of “action against the state” and “action against the order.”
CSW reported that the verdict against him includes text that describes Pastor Irani as an apostate and reiterates that apostates “can be killed.”
Ghezal Hesar is one of Iran’s most notorious prisons and, according to CSW’s sources, Pastor Irani has been beaten regularly by his cell mates and prison authorities.
CSW stated: “As a result of injuries sustained during these assaults, he has difficulty walking. His health has further deteriorated due to the harsh prison conditions; he has suffered severe bleeding as a result of ulcers and complications with his colon, which led to his recent loss of consciousness. He is also unable to see very well and there are growing concerns that he could die within the next few months.”
CSW says its sources also report that during the first few months of his imprisonment, the pastor was held incommunicado in a small cell, where guards would repeatedly wake him from sleep as a form of psychological torture. He was moved into a cramped room where inmates could not lie down to sleep, before being transferred to his current cell.
CSW’s Advocacy Director Andrew Johnston said: “CSW is deeply concerned for the health and welfare of Pastor Irani, and urges the Iranian government to ensure that he receives urgent medical attention and is protected from assault, in accordance with the UN Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners. Though the charges against him are couched in political language, in reality Pastor Irani, like so many other Christian prisoners, has been imprisoned solely on account of his faith.
“We continue to call on Iran to honor its obligations as a signatory to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which guarantees freedom of religion, and to release Pastor Irani unconditionally as a matter of urgency, given his deteriorating health. We also call for the unconditional release of Pastor Nadarkhani, Pastor Farshid Fathi Malayeri and all others unjustly detained or facing execution due to flawed judicial processes.”
Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) is a Christian organization working for religious freedom through advocacy and human rights, in the pursuit of justice.
For further information or to arrange interviews please contact Kiri Kankhwende, Press Officer at Christian Solidarity Worldwide on +44 (0) 78 2332 9663 or visit www.csw.org.uk.
** Michael Ireland is the Senior International Correspondent for ANS. He is an international British freelance journalist who was formerly a reporter with a London (United Kingdom) newspaper and has been a frequent contributor to UCB UK, a British Christian radio station. While in the UK, Michael traveled to Canada and the United States, Albania,Yugoslavia, Holland, Germany,and Czechoslovakia. He has reported for ANS from Jamaica, Mexico, Nicaragua, Israel, Jordan, China,and Russia. Michael's volunteer involvement with ASSIST News Service is a sponsored ministry department -- 'Michael Ireland Media Missionary' (MIMM) -- of A.C.T. International of P.O.Box 1649, Brentwood, TN 37024-1649, at: Artists in Christian Testimony (A.C.T.) International where you can make a donation online under 'Donate' tab, then look for 'Michael Ireland Media Missionary' under 'Donation Category' to support his stated mission of 'Truth Through Christian Journalism.' Michael is a member in good standing of the National Writers Union, Society of Professional Journalists, Religion Newswriters Association, Evangelical Press Association and International Press Association. If you have a news or feature story idea for Michael, please contact him at: ANS Senior International Reporter