Two Christian converts have been ordered to start serving prison sentences in Bushehr, southwestern Iran.
Article 18, a London-based organization advocating for the religious rights of Iranian Christians, and Mohabbat News, a Christian news agency, reported that Sasan Khosravi and Habib Heydari were ordered to report to Bushehr Prison on November 11 after being sentenced by a Revolutionary Court on June 22.
They were charged with "propaganda against the regime,” sentenced to a year in prison, and forced to pay monetary fines. They were also banned from working and engaging in social activism and informed that when they finish serving their jail sentences, they will be sent into exile and prohibited from visiting their home cities.
Khosravi and Heidari were arrested by the Ministry of Intelligence in Bushehr on July 1, 2019, and were released on a bail of 300 million tomans for two weeks prior to their trial.
They were denied access to a lawyer during their detention and held in solitary confinement.
Mohabbat News reported that the Christians were forced to confess, and were filmed making their confessions following intense pressure from security officials.
In a recent letter to the Iranian government, United Nations rapporteurs voiced alarm about the systematic harassment of Christians in Iran and sought clarification of vague allegations, including "acting against national security" and "propaganda against the regime."
Despite Christianity being a recognized religion in Iran, the Iranian government has consistently targeted the community, specifically converts, and has arrested several people in recent years. Christian converts, along with other religious minorities and civil society and environmental activists, increasingly face harsh treatment, including jail sentences, often without any evidence being produced to back up their convictions.