The Islamic regime of Iran is implementing another strategy by releasing prisoners on the condition that they keep their silence. This is done to rebuild the distorted image of the regime in the international community and escape pressure from the media for violating Human Rights.
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According to Mohabat News’ correspondents, Pastor Robert Asseriyan, one of the leaders at the Central Assemblies of God Church in Tehran, was released from prison after spending 43 days in custody. Security authorities had arrested him in the middle of a worship service on May 21.
According to the report, there is no clear information on how Pastor Asseriyan was released. However, it appears that he was temporarily released on bail on July 2.
It should be mentioned that the weekly worship services that used to be held on Tuesday at the Central AoG Church were cancelled and the church itself was forcibly closed during the Iranian presidential election.
In response to Pastor Asseriyan’s arrest, Dr. George O. Wood, the General Superintendent of the General Council of the AoG in the U.S., released a statement expressing his concern over the pastor’s arrest and ongoing pressure on Farsi-speaking churches. He also called on Iranian authorities to stop Christian persecution in the country. In another part of his statement, he mentioned the closure of the Central AoG Church in Tehran as a starting point to shut down all Farsi-speaking churches across the country and put an end to the public proclamation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ in Iran.
Now, Pastor Asseriyan is released while security authorities have asked him and his family to keep their silence and to not be interviewed by the media regarding his case, his release or his trial. In a way, “Silence” is a condition for his release. This condition had previously been applied to other Christian prisoners.
The condition “Silence for Freedom”, shows that Iranian authorities want to portray actions such as releasing prisoners as Human Rights improvement in Iran and do not want prisoners to speak out in contradicting this.
For a long time Christians have been arrested and imprisoned in Iran merely for sharing their faith or having house-churches. The newly elected Iranian president, Hassan Rouhani, promised in his second statement that he will preserve the rights of religious and ethnic minorities and that he will respond to their legitimate demands. Now the question is, does he count Muslims who have converted to Christianity as religious minorities and include them in his promises? What is his view on recently closed Farsi-speaking churches and what will he do to re-open them?