Relatives and friends of three Christians from Azerbaijan and an Iranian Christian are delighted to report that they have all been released from prison on bail, and the Azerbaijanis were able to travel back home yesterday (6th November).
Eldar Gurbanov (48), Yusif Farhadov (51) and Bahram Nasibov (37) from Baku in Azerbaijan had been invited to attend a gathering to bless a newly wedded couple in Tehran, and wanted to spend three days as tourists in Iran. On Friday 24th June security agents raided the wedding party and initially arrested ten people, most of whom were quickly released. However Eldar, Yusif, Bahram and Naser (an Iranian Christian convert) were taken to Evin Prison for interrogation.
Eldar, Yusif and Bahram are all married and have children. Yusif has a young son with Down’s Syndrome.
The four men were kept in solitary confinement for two months and interrogated. Their whereabouts were not made known, to the concern of family members. They were refused access to consular assistance or legal counsel during this initial period of their detention. In September they were transferred out of solitary confinement to shared cells in Ward 350 in Evin Prison, much to their mutual encouragement. They faced charges of engaging in missionary activity and propaganda against the regime, but it is hoped that they will be acquitted of these charges.
On 29th October they were released on bail.
Friends and relatives thank the lawyer in Tehran for doing an excellent job, and thank those who have been supporting them with advice and prayer. They request prayer that:
- those released will have a joyful reunion with their families, and will be able to recover emotionally and spiritually from this traumatic experience
- they will be acquitted of all charges
- God will bring good out of this difficult situation
- the Iranian regime will treat all prisoners with dignity and justice, and that people will no longer be penalised on account of their faith or religious activities.
Source: Middle East Concern
Yang Rongli released
Thank God that on October 10 after serving her full seven-year sentence, Pastor Yang Rongli (pictured) walked out of Shanxi’s women’s prison and was reunited with her family and friends. During her imprisonment she endured interrogation, beatings, and deprivation as well as suffering from two kidney stones, diabetes and a heart complaint. Despite all of these she was reported to be in good spirits regarding her freedom, and has no complaints or resentment. Because of continuing government restrictions she has been unable to give any interviews at present.
Asia Bibi hearing postponed
Asia Bibi and her family will have to endure further hardship and another agonising wait following the adjournment of her appeal hearing by Pakistan’s Supreme Court after one of the judges pulled out of the case.
Her lawyer, Saif-ul-Mulook, said it would probably take weeks or months for a replacement judge to be found and for the appeal to be rescheduled.
Tensions are running high over Asia’s case. Recently 150 Muslim clerics issued a fatwa (religious edict) warning the Government not to release Asia, and threatening to kill anyone who helped a person accused of blasphemy.