Security forces are reported to have raided Rev. Asserian’s house this morning and confiscated some of his belongings, including his computer and books. They then proceeded to the church where he was leading a prayer meeting. He was arrested and taken to an unknown location.
Pressure on Iranian Christians has intensified in recent years, with churches and their members being targeted. The AoG Church in Tehran was one of few churches that offered services in Farsi. In 2009, they were ordered to end Farsi services on Friday, a day off for Iranians, and were only permitted to hold services in Farsi on Sundays. However, sources have confirmed that the Iranian authorities have now ordered the ending of Farsi services on Sunday, giving church leaders the option of conducting Sunday services in Armenian or facing closure. This news has caused church leaders to evaluate their options, with serious consideration being given to closure.
CSW’s Advocacy Director, Andrew Johnston, said, “We are deeply concerned for the welfare of Rev. Asserian and urge the authorities to make his whereabouts known. The continued and sustained pressure by the Iranian regime on churches in Tehran has boxed them into a corner to such an extent that they can no longer function. We renew our call for the Iranian government to honour its national and international obligations, in particular Article 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), which guarantees freedom of religion or belief, and the right, either alone or in community with others, and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance.”