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International Christian Concern reports that Iran’s secret police and Revolutionary Guard are subjecting Christians to a continuing wave of arrests, and increased torture and brutal beatings, in an effort to crush the house-church movement, activists said.

Human rights activists confirmed that there has been a noticeable increase this month in the number of reported assaults against Christians imprisoned in Iran. The assaults, which are taking place against converts who lead house churches, are meant to send a message to Christians in the country, said a Middle East Concern (MEC) researcher who focuses on Iran.

A well-placed Iranian Christian reported that officials are using the beatings to scare the church, according to the researcher, unidentified for security reasons.

“These changes could be an attempt by the state to intimidate the church,” the researcher said. “These beatings are not being kept hidden at all. It’s being done to make it quite visual when relatives come to the prison to visit. If they see what happened and they pass on the information to the church community; it’s a tactic of intimidation.”

On May 5, agents from VEVAK, Iran’s internal security agency, arrested Silas Rabbani, a leader with the Church of Iran in Karaj. According to Present Truth Ministries, Rabbani, a former Muslim, has been “informally charged” with apostasy and was beaten in VEVAK custody.

He was then transferred to Gohardasht Prison, also known as Rajai Shahr, where the torture has continued.

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