An Iranian Christian convert who has been imprisoned since August has fallen ‘seriously ill’ after going on hunger strike.
Amin Afshar Naderi went on hunger strike on 5 February with fellow prisoner Hadi Asgari who is also unwell, but has been refused medical treatment, World Watch Monitor reports.
Naderi and Asgari are two of five Christians who were arrested whilst having a picnic in the Alborz Mountains, north-east Tehran last summer.
Three of the men were able to raise enough funds ($33,000 each) to be granted bail and be released late last year. Naderi and Asgari were unable to raise the needed funds, and have been imprisoned and interrogated since August.
No charges have been brought against them. Many Christians in Iran face intense persecution and opposition for their faith, frequently being arrested with the charge of ‘acting against national security’.
Middle East concern said that the arrests were a result of their Christian faith, or their connection with Victor Bet-Tamraz. Victor is the father of Ramil Bet-Tamraz, one of the five originally imprisoned. He led the Tehran Pentecostal Assyrian Church, which was eventually shut down by Iran’s ministry of interior.
Victor Bet-Tamraz, Naderi and another convert were arrested in 2014, charged with conducting illegal evangelism. They spent two months imprisoned, mostly in solitary confinement.
Several Iranian Christians have gone on hunger strike whilst imprisoned. Amnesty International has previously accused Iran of being ‘cruel’ in its refusal of medical care for its prisoners.
Amnesty’s 2016 report ‘presents strong evidence that the judiciary, in particular the Office of the Prosecutor, and prison administrations deliberately prevent access to adequate medical care, in many cases as an intentional act of cruelty intended to intimidate, punish or humiliate political prisoners, or to extract forced “confessions” or statements of “repentance” from them.’