Defending Christian Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani at the U.N.

We recently, filed a written submission at the United Nations Human Rights Council (HRC) regarding the repeated imprisonment of Christian Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani in Iran. Pastor Youcef is an Iranian pastor who was originally imprisoned and sentenced to die for “apostasy” five years ago. In 2012, after nearly 3 years in prison, Pastor Youcef was finally set free . But on July 22, 2018, Iranian agents raided Pastor Youcef’s house, beat him, and rearrested him . According to the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, Pastor Youcef remains detained as a prisoner of conscience. It is critical that Iran release Pastor Youcef and uphold the principles of the U.N. Charter. As we explained to the HRC in our submission : As a member of the United Nations, the Islamic Republic of Iran is obligated to adhere to the principles set forth in the U.N. Charter requiring members ‘[t]o achieve international cooperation . . . in promoting and encouraging respect for human rights and for fundamental freedoms for all without distinction as to [inter alia] religion. By repeatedly detaining and trying Pastor Youcef because of his religious expression, the Islamic Republic of Iran is violating its obligations under the U.N. Charter. Therefore, these violations not only concern the Islamic Republic of Iran but this entire Council as well. We urged the HRC to demand that Iran release of Pastor Youcef and uphold its responsibility to protect the human rights of all its citizens. This Council must demand the immediate release of Pastor Youcef. The very purpose of this Council is to protect the human rights of individuals living all around the world. It is imperative that this mission be taken seriously and that the Islamic Republic of Iran be reminded of its obligations to actively protect the rights of Pastor Youcef so that he and others can practice their religion peacefully without fear of arrest or violence from their government. In addition, our international legal team just delivered an oral intervention before the HRC in Geneva on behalf of Pastor Youcef. You can read our oral intervention below: In Iran, Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani has been repeatedly targeted, arrested, and imprisoned because of his Christian faith. He was first arrested in 2006 and charged with apostasy and evangelism, then again in 2009 when he criticized the monopoly Islamic authorities had on education in Iran. He was found guilty and sentenced to death-by-hanging. And although he was acquitted and released in September of 2012, three months later he was arrested again on Christmas day. He was arrested yet again in May of 2016 and subsequently found guilty of Zionism and evangelism. After being notified his appeal had been denied in May of 2018, Pastor Youcef was arrested and imprisoned two months later without any prior notice. It’s reported that the police shattered Pastor Youcef’s door, raided his home, and used electrical batons to beat Pastor Youcef and his son all in front of Pastor Youcef’s wife and other children. These heinous actions cannot be tolerated. Iran is a member of the United Nations, and as such they have a responsibility to adhere to the principles set forth in the U.N. Charter. Through repeatedly and unlawfully detaining Pastor Youcef because of his religious faith, Iran is violating foundational principles of the charter. This Council must stand against this grave injustice and demand Pastor Youcef’s immediate release. Join us as we continue to fight for persecuted Christians all around the world to ensure that they are allowed to openly and freely practice their Christian faith.