February 24, 2012
SOURCES: (Voice of the Martyrs, National Review, Yahoo News, Christian Today, Christian Post, American Centre for Law and Justice, CBN)
VIDEO: CBN "Iranian Christian Pastor Could Soon Be Killed"
The EFC’s Religious Liberty Commission is calling for urgent prayer and action on behalf of 34 year-old evangelical Iranian Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani. Sources in Iran say that an execution order has been signed for Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani, who has been imprisoned for 865 days following his arrest for protesting in October, 2009. This has been confirmed by Present Truth Ministries, a group closely tied to Nadarkhani, and Todd Nettleton of Voice of the Martyrs, who said:
"Apparently, that execution order has not been delivered to his family, has not been delivered to his attorneys, but the report is that it has been signed. That means that at any time, he could be executed".
Since Nadarkhani’s 2009 arrest, his false imprisonment, the ongoing threat of execution and further fabricated (rape and extortion) charges, there has been an unrelenting international outcry demanding that Iranian authorities lift the sentence, release Nadarkhani, and a demonstrate commitment to basic, universal human rights, including freedom of religion. After months of international pressure, Iran’s judiciary has reportedly issued an order for the dissident Christian to be executed by hanging. While there have been many calls his for execution throughout his long imprisonment, concern for Pastor Nadarkhani among experts is heightened because of the increase in recent executions within Iran.
Since the EFC’s Religious Liberty Commission’s alert concerning his plight in October 2011, Youcef has been pressured by Iranian authorities at least four times and promised release if he would renounce his faith in Christ. He has remained steadfast and consistently refused.
Jay Sekulow, the chief counsel for the Washington-based American Center for Law & Justice (ACLJ) stated:
“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 in public – most executions in Iran are conducted in secret.”
Given this most recent threat to Pastor Youcef, we are therefore calling on you to join us in prayer and in action (see the letter to Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird below, and circulate and repost this story where possible).
- Pray for the release, safety and protection of Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani. Pray for protection of his wife Fatemeh Pasandideh and two sons, Daniel age 9 and Yoel age 7.
- Pray for the safety and courage of the network of Christian house churches he pastored as a member of the evangelical Church of Iran. Pray for all Christians and religious minorities in Iran.
- Pray that Iranian government and judicial authorities will release Pastor Nadarkhani and protect genuine religious freedom and human rights in their country, as per their own constitution.
- Pray that International governments (including the Canadian Government) would put consistent pressure on the Iranian government concerning the safe release of Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani, and continue to demand an adherence to their promise of respect for and protection of all religious minorities in Iran.
Send a copy, over your name, of the sample letter below to:
The Honourable John Baird
Minister of Foreign Affairs
125 Sussex Drive
Ottawa, ON K1A 0G2
Fax: (613) 992-6802
I am writing to you with some urgency regarding Iranian Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani who reliable sources indicate is facing imminent execution for his religious beliefs. These sources have confirmed that an order of execution has been signed by Iranian authorities. Although Pastor Nadarkhani’s family and lawyer have yet to receive a copy of the order, the execution may take place regardless; a practice we understand that is not uncommon in Iran. I am asking that the Canadian Government to act swiftly and intervene on Pastor Nadarkhani’s behalf, and on behalf of concerned Canadians.
Youcef Nadarkhani was arrested in 2009 for protesting government policy requiring his children to study the Qur’an in school. He was initially charged with protesting, and then the charges were amended to apostasy. In 2012 he was found guilty of apostasy and was sentenced to death. He has been imprisoned for 865 days, tortured, and pressured to recant his faith which he has refused to do.
I commend you for your comments on September 28, 2011 in a news release condemning the Iranian regime for their part in possibly carrying out such a heinous violation of human rights. Thank you for representing all Canadians in championing the right to freedom of religion or belief, and protecting those rights around the world.
Considering the recent developments, I think it is imperative the Canadian government firmly denounce the signed execution order and swiftly intervene in this case as possible. I would encourage you to continue to put pressure on the Iranian government to uphold their responsibility to provide human rights for all of their citizens, particularly the right to freedom of religion or belief in Article 18 of the United Nation’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights to which Iran has acceded by its membership in the UN.
(Your name here)