The story of Naser Navard Gol-Tapeh sheds light on the challenges faced by Christians in Iran and the relentless persecution they endure for their faith. From his arrest during an engagement party to the denial of parole and multiple appeals for a retrial, Naser’s journey has been fraught with injustice and hardship. This blog post delves into the timeline of events, highlighting his unwavering faith, the resilience of his family, and the recent tragedy of losing his beloved mother.
Arrest and Sentencing: In June 2016, Naser Navard Gol-Tapeh was arrested during a raid on an engagement party near Tehran, where several Christians were gathered. Charged with “illegal gathering, collusion, and evangelism,” Naser and three visiting Azeri Christians were held in solitary confinement for two months and subjected to intense interrogation. Despite being denied consular assistance and legal counsel, Naser and his fellow believers were later released on bail.
Unjust Convictions and Imprisonment: In May 2017, Naser faced a trial where he was charged with “acting against national security through the formation and establishment of an illegal church organization in his home.” Judge Mashallah Ahmadzadeh, presiding over the case, relied on a Ministry of Intelligence report that was not shared with Naser’s lawyer. Despite the lack of substantial evidence, Naser was sentenced to ten years in prison. Numerous appeals for a retrial were denied, and parole was repeatedly denied, prolonging his time behind bars in Evin prison.
Release and Tragic Loss: Unexpectedly, in October 2022, Naser was granted a pardon and released from prison. However, the joy of freedom was short-lived as Naser’s mother, Sahab Fazli, passed away on November 29, 2022, just a month and five days after his release. Naser cherished the precious time he had with his mother, expressing gratitude to God for the brief period they had together.
Enduring Faith and Resilience: Throughout his imprisonment, Naser remained steadfast in his faith, even in the face of adversity. Despite the denial of parole and repeated setbacks, he found strength and peace within his heart. His lawyer, Iman Soleimani, tirelessly fought for justice and highlighted the absence of concrete evidence against Naser and his fellow Christians.
Naser Navard Gol-Tapeh’s story exemplifies the struggles faced by Christians in Iran, where religious freedom is severely restricted. The journey of arrest, unjust convictions, and imprisonment underscores the need for international attention and support for those persecuted for their faith. As we reflect on Naser’s journey, let us advocate for the rights of religious minorities and stand in solidarity with those who face oppression and discrimination.