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Iran: Supreme Court orders retrial of Christian couple serving combined 10-year sentence

There are roughly 300,000 Christians in Iran. Most of them are members of the Armenian Apostolic Church. Other Christians in Iran are members of the Assyrian Church of the East, the Chaldean Catholic Church, and the Roman Catholic Church; there is also a growing number of Pentecostals, Evangelicals, and other Protestants. 

For previous coverage of Iran, see here.

“Supreme Court orders retrial of Christian couple serving combined 10-year sentence,” Article 18, April 11, 2023:

An Iranian Christian couple serving a combined 10 years in prison for belonging to a house-church have had their third application for a retrial accepted.

Sara Ahmadi, who will turn 45 on Friday, and Homayoun Zhaveh, who is 64 and has advanced Parkinson’s disease, were informed of the decision on Easter Day.

The ruling was made by Branch 9 of the Supreme Court, the same branch that agreed last month to a retrial in the case of an Iranian-Armenian pastor, Joseph Shahbazian, serving a 10-year sentence for holding church services in his home.

Sara and Homayoun’s case will be reviewed by Branch 34 of Tehran’s appeal court on 9 May.

The couple have been in prison since August last year, when they were surprisingly detained after answering a summons which they believed would only see them reunited with property confiscated from them by the agents who arrested them….

The UN’s special rapporteur on the human rights situation in Iran, Javaid Rehman, highlighted Iran’s breaches of this covenant during the launch of Article18’s joint annual report at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva last month.

“Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience, and religion, and everyone has the right to have a religion, to adopt another religion, of his or her choice, without any coercion,” he said. “And these are what we call ‘non-derogable’. You cannot derogate from that. Whatever religion or faith I choose for myself, there must not be any interference; the state cannot say, ‘Well, you know, there are public security issues, national security.’ This is my choice! And this is very important for all states to recognise, including Iran.”

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