Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Execution orders may have been issued for Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani

Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani
Photo: Present Truth Ministries
According to contacts in Iran, the execution orders for Christian Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani may have been issued, reports the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ).

Pastor Youcef’s situation – an innocent man convicted and sentenced to death for becoming a Christian – has not been this dire since ACLJ first reported his story last year.

It is unclear whether Pastor Youcef would have a right of appeal from the execution order. We know that the head of Iran’s Judiciary, Ayatollah Sadegh Larijani, must approve publicly held executions, but only a small percentage of executions are held public — most executions in Iran are conducted in secret.

There has also been a disturbing increase in the number of executions conducted by the Iranian regime in the last month.

Iran is actively violating its human rights obligations by sentencing and detaining Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani. ACLJ is calling on the Iranian government to release Pastor Youcef immediately.

Please pray, share Youcef’s story with others, and raise a voice on his behalf.
  • Contact Canada’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, John Baird. Send him an email today at john.baird@parl.gc.ca. You can also mail him postage-free at:
           The Honourable John Baird
           House of Commons
           Ottawa, ON
           K1A 0A6
  • Be sure to copy your local MP on the letter to Mr. Baird. You can locate your MP’s contact information here.
  • Contact the Iranian embassy in Canada:
          Mr. Kambiz Sheikh Hassani
          Embassy of the Islamic Republic of Iran
          245 Metcalfe Street
          Ottawa, ON K2P 2K2

          Fax: (613) 232-5712
          Telephone: (613) 235-4726
          Email: executive@iranembassy.ca

Use the sample letter below to guide you as you write. For further guidelines on how to write government officials, click here.

* * *
[Date]

[Government official’s address]

Dear Mr./Mrs./Ms. [MP’s surname] OR His Excellency Kambiz Sheikh Hassani,

I am writing today to express my concern for Iranian pastor Youcef Nadarkhani. Nadarkhani, a 34-year-old pastor from Rasht, Iran, was arrested in October 2009 after he protested a government policy that required children, including his eight- and nine-year-old sons, to study the Qur’an in school. Nadarkhani told school officials that the Iranian constitution allows for freedom of religious practice.

As a result of his protest, secret police called him before a political tribunal and arrested him for protesting. The charges were later amended to apostasy and evangelism of Muslims. Nadarkhani was tried on September 21 and 22, 2010, and sentenced to death for apostasy on November 13.

In July 2011, the Supreme Court instructed the Revolutionary Tribunal of Gilan Province to review his case to verify whether he was previously a practicing Muslim. During hearings on September 25-28, the court in Rasht ruled that Pastor Nadarkhani was not a practicing Muslim before becoming a Christian but that he remains guilty of apostasy because of his Muslim ancestry.

There are reports that execution orders for Pastor Nadarkhani may have been issued.

Pastor Nadarkhani faces the death penalty solely on the basis of his adopting Christianity. As such, the Islamic Republic of Iran is violating its obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Article 18 includes a provision for the right to “have or to adopt” a religion, which has been interpreted authoritatively by the UN Human Rights Committee as including the right to change one’s religion.

Further, Iran’s constitution sanctions Christianity as a legitimate minority faith and asserts that Christians are allowed to freely carry out their religious rites. Article 23 asserts that no one may be “reprimanded simply because of having a certain belief.”

I am very concerned about Pastor Nadarkhani’s welfare and I respectfully request that you give your attention to this urgent matter. Thank you for your time.

Yours sincerely,

[Your name and address]

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