Iran: Christian "whipped with extreme violence" as lashing sentences carried out  31/10/2013

Two of the four members of the Church of Iran denomination sentenced to 80 lashes for taking wine during a communion service were lashed yesterday.

Behzad Taalipasand and Mehdi Dadkhah (Danial) received 80 lashes on 30 October. According to CSW's sources, Behzad Taalipasand was whipped “with extreme violence.” While reports suggest that Mehdi Reza Omidi's (Youhan) sentence will be carried out on 2 November, it is not yet known when or if Amir Hatemi (Youhanna) will be punished.

The group was charged with drinking alcohol and possession of a receiver and satellite antenna, and were given ten days in which to appeal. However, they received the written verdict on 20 October, although it was dated 6 October, and it remains unclear whether their appeals were rejected, or whether the delay in receiving the verdict meant they ran out of time.

Behzad Taalipasand and Mehdi Reza Omidi (Youhan) were detained on 31 December 2012 during a crackdown on house churches by the Iranian government.

Mervyn Thomas, Chief Executive of Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW), said, “CSW condemns these sentences in the strongest terms. These men are being punished for simply partaking in a sacrament practiced for centuries by Christian the world over. This appalling and unjust infringement on the right to manifest one's faith in practice, worship and observance has occurred despite Iran's obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) to uphold freedom of religion or belief for all of its religious communities. Moreover, the punishment meted out to these men for partaking in a legitimate act of worship amounts to a contravention of article 5 of the ICCPR, which prohibits inhuman or degrading punishment. We urge the Iranian government to bring the nation's legal practices and procedures in line with its international undertakings and to release these men without delay or further punishment.”

For further information or to arrange interviews please contact Kiri Kankhwende, Press Officer at Christian Solidarity Worldwide on +44 (0)20 8329 0045 / +44 (0) 78 2332 9663, email kiri@csw.org.uk or visit www.csw.org.uk.

 Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) is a Christian organisation working for religious freedom through advocacy and human rights, in the pursuit of justice.

Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) is a human rights organisation which specialises in religious freedom, works on behalf of those persecuted for their Christian beliefs and promotes religious liberty for all.

For more information, please call 0845 456 5464, email admin@csw.org.uk or visit www.csw.org.uk