Assyrian leader of the evangelical church was arrested in Iran
After the most recent closure of yet another of the very few remaining open churches throughout Iran, the evangelical church of Kermanshah, the pastor of the church, Rev. Wilson Issavi, while visiting one of his old friends in Shahin Shahr, Isfahan, was arrested and moved to an undisclosed location, reports FCNN from Shahin Shar, Isfahan, Kermanshah and Tehran.
As reported by FCNN correspondent from Isfahan, on Tuesday 13th Bahman 1388 (2 February 2010) the agents of Isfahan branch off state security, detained Rev. Wilson Issavi in the home of one of his old friends in Shahin Shahr, Isfahan. The security agents entered the house unannounced and took him and the host couple and a visiting lady away. Later on the host’s wife was released. Since the day of the arrest it has been impossible for friends and family to find out about the whereabouts or well being of Rev. Issavi.
Rev. Wilson Issavi is the serving pastor of the Assyrian evangelical church, which is an old and historical building in dire need of repair, and is not been extensively used, except for weekly Christian worship. On 2 January 2010 (13 Day 1388), one month before the arrest of pastor Wilson Issavi, after forced entry into his house by a number of plainclothes local security agents, the Kermanshahchurch was sealed and ordered not to be reopened. Despite the fact that FCNN correspondents had immediately become aware of this abhorring invasion of a small and only church in the west of the country, after a telephone and direct enquiry Pastor Wilson had requested FCNN not to publicise the news lest the authorities are provoked into inflicting more harm and hoping to find a reasonable dialogue and reopen the church! FCNN respected the wishes of Rev. Issavi and held back on releasing the news.
This cowardly act was perpetrated by the security agents after they had called him on his mobile, enquiring about his whereabouts, and being sure that he is not home to defend his house and his household. As stated by family members to friends, the security agents had ransacked the house in his absence and taken away much personal possessions.
The grey haired Rev. W. Issavi is known to friends and foes alike as a meek, humble and tireless servant of the church leading a very modest life and serving all those who needed his prayer and assistance. He has served in the region for many years along with his family, hoping to keep the beautiful and historic Kermanshah church building open as a house of prayer. He has lived and served in the region respecting all the pronounced laws of the country and despite the suffocating and inhibitive yet unwritten rules enforced by the government and despite numerous incidents of harassment kept a very low profile not to give any excuse to the authorities to quench the dwindling lights of this church and stop Christian worship for very small remaining minority of Assyrian and Armenian Christians.
No wonder that because of the content and unassuming character of Rev. Willson, there was no attention given to the church’s many woes not the least its serious financial need and its state of disrepair. The now sadly closed Kermanshah church, one of the very few remaining open throughout the country ,whose rulers claim to rule with equality and justice, is remote from the attention given to the capital and the many visiting Christian tourists. There were no wealthy visitors to the church in Kermanshah!
Rev. Wilson was tirelessly working on two fronts. First with the authorities and local government to receive necessary permission and secondly contacting many parishioners who have immigrated to the west in order to raise the required funds to do the repair. Progress on both fronts was slow to come!
As thoroughly investigated by FCNN, the coward act of invasion of the privacy of his home and subsequent sealing and closure of the church and Rev. Wilson’s meekness and humility and longsuffering not willing to publicise the news, emboldened the authorities to seal the fate of this historical church once and for all by frightening him off the region and then plotting to completely take over the building. Is there any other reason to arrest him in another city while he was serving transparently in his parish?
Informed sources and friends told FCNN correspondent in Isfahan that before the Islamic revolution Rev. Issavi used to be employed by the Helicopter Industries of Esfahan; hence he has many friends and acquaintances there which he kept his friendship alive by visiting them irregularly.
At the time of his detention he was a guest in the house of one of his friends in ‘Shahin Shahr’. The security agents swarmed into the house with no arrest Warrant or even showing their badges and took him away along with the host and other guest and also took much personal possession of the host without any explanation. His very distressed family have not been given any explanation about this inhuman conduct or his whereabouts.
The Committee of Iranian Christians, of the Iranian Human Rights campaign is strongly protesting against this inhuman and unlawful arrest of Rev. Wilson Issavi, Pastor of the Kermanshah church, which has been conducted without any legal or judicial proceedings and indeed without any conceivable reason. The director of committee of Iranian Christians in the Iranian Human Rights campaign condemned this deplorable act and demanded his immediate release considering his age and state of health. As a citizen of the country, albeit in the Christian minority, he deserves to be respected and receive all the legal and judicial care and protection.
Its ironic that that in the last two months while this acts of injustice is allowed and perpetrated against a small law abiding and praying Christian minority, the Islamic Republic of Iran delegates in the United Nations Human rights forum on Monday last, 15 February 2010, advocated the testimonial of an Assyrian delegate, whose true identity is yet undisclosed, that the Christian minority in Iran enjoys full and unequalled freedom and lives in peace!!
The Committee of Iranian Christians in the Iranian Human rights campaign demands the Iranian Ministry of Justice to disclose the whereabouts of the detainee and inform why he has been arrested meanwhile all Iranian Christians demand the unconditional and immediate release of Rev. W Issavi.
Its noteworthy that in line with closure of churches and also shortly before the inhibition imposed on ‘Jamaate Rabani’ (Assemblies of God) church to stop Friday evening meetings (which have been conducted from the day the church was inaugurated!), the Assyrian Pentecostal church of ‘Shahre Ara’ district of Tehran was closed in March 2009 (Farvardin 1388) by direct threats of the government and most regretful collaboration of ‘Jonathan Beit Kolia’, the representative of the Assyrian minority in the parliament of the Islamic Republic of Iran.