Eldar Kurbanov (48), Yousif Farkhadov (51), and Bahram Nasibov (37) are pastors of the Word of Life Church in Baku, Azerbaijan, located along the Black Sea. The families and local legal experts have had no contact with the pastors since their arrest. Four days after the arrest, communication was opened between the families and the Iranian Embassy in Azerbaijan, as well as the ministry of Foreign Affairs, but no information has been given regarding their detainment.
Due to the state of diplomatic relations between Iran, Azerbaijan, and the United States, garnering information and providing legal support for the pastors in Iran has proven difficult. Efforts are currently underway in securing some form of legal defense for the pastors in question.
“On July 27, I spoke to the wife of pastor Yousif and she said they are working on finding an Iranian lawyer who can defend the rights of [the] arrested pastors as well as getting the exact information about the reason for their arrest,” says a prominent human rights lawyer in the region.
This is the latest in a succession of pastors who have been imprisoned by Iranian authorities over many years for accusations ranging from apostasy to evangelism.
ICC’s Regional Manager, Andrew Kerr, states, “It is with a heavy heart that we hear of the arrest and imprisonment of more Christian pastors in Iran. It appears that the Islamic Republic of Iran is continuing its crackdown of religious minorities in its country. To make matters worse, they have once again disregarded the sovereignty and rights of foreign nationals in their country by arresting three Azerbaijani citizens. We ask that our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ support these pastors by praying for their release and safe return to their families. We also call upon the United States to mediate in this case and support Azerbaijan so that we may see these pastors released unconditionally.”