Senior International Correspondent, ASSIST News Service
MEXICO (ANS) -- The Mexican senate yesterday approved (Nov.29) an official statement condemning the death sentence for apostasy currently faced by Pastor Yousef Nadarkhani in Iran.
Pastor Youcef and his family. (Courtesy of Present Truth Ministries).
According to the UK-based Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) www.csw.org.uk , the statement says that “although Iranian officials have claimed that the he was sentenced to death for different crimes and not that of apostasy, the international community has consistently spoken out in defense of Mr. Nadarkhani’s civil and political rights.”
“As such, the statement proposes that the Senate join the international community, and condemns the death sentence handed down to Yousef Nadarkhani for religious reasons.”
The Mexican senate statement quotes Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and Articles 2 and 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), which Iran has ratified. Article 18 of the ICCPR states that “No one shall be subject to coercion which would impair his freedom to have or adopt a religion or belief of his choice,” and asserts that “freedom to manifest one's religion or beliefs may be subject only to limitations prescribed by law and are necessary to protect public safety, order, health or morals or the fundamental rights and freedoms of others.”
CSW says the Mexican Senate joins members of the international community including Britain, the US, the Council of Europe, Canada and members of the Uruguayan Senate in condemning the death sentence for Pastor Nadarkhani on religious grounds.
Pastor Nadarkhani’s apostasy case has been referred to Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Hoseyni Khamenei, for a decision. Two letters have been written to the Supreme Leader by the court in Rasht, asking for his opinion on the case, but so far there has been no response.
CSW’s sources have been told that a decision may be issued by the court in mid-December.
On a recent trip to Mexico, CSW’s Chief Executive, Mervyn Thomas, met with members of the Senate, including Senator José Luis García Zalvidea, and discussed a number of issues, including the case of Pastor Nadarkhani. He also spoke at a two-day conference on religious freedom, jointly hosted by CSW and the Federal District’s Human Rights Commission in Mexico City, alongside Jorge Lee, a respected legal expert on religious freedom and equality in Mexico, representing recently-launched CSW Mexico.
He said, “CSW welcomes the resolution by the Mexican Senate. The pastor’s life remains in the balance and it is vital that international petitions for his release continue and that international actors continue to urge Iran to uphold its obligations concerning religious freedom under the ICCPR.”
Jason DeMars of Present Truth Ministries (www.presenttruthm.com ) told ANS: “I greatly appreciate the Mexican government’s involvement in the case of pastor Youcef Nadarkhani. It is truly the duty of all elected governments to stand for freedom.
"The statement of the Mexican Senate is a good start, but it falls short of calling for the immediate release of pastor Youcef. I ask that all governments call for and work towards the release of brother Youcef and all Christians who are imprisoned because of their faith and activity as evangelicals.”
Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) is a Christian organization working for religious freedom through advocacy and human rights, in the pursuit of justice. Present Truth Ministries provides relief for believers suffering for their faith and has been following Nadarkhani’s case closely.
For further information or to arrange interviews please contact Kiri Kankhwende, Press Officer at Christian Solidarity Worldwide on +44 (0)20 8329 0045 / +44 (0) 78 2332 9663, email@example.com or visit www.csw.org.uk .
|** Michael Ireland is the Senior International Correspondent for ANS. He is an international British freelance journalist who was formerly a reporter with a London (United Kingdom) newspaper and has been a frequent contributor to UCB UK, a British Christian radio station. While in the UK, Michael traveled to Canada and the United States, Albania,Yugoslavia, Holland, Germany,and Czechoslovakia. He has reported for ANS from Jamaica, Mexico, Nicaragua, Israel, Jordan, China,and Russia. Michael's volunteer involvement with ASSIST News Service is a sponsored ministry department -- 'Michael Ireland Media Missionary' (MIMM) -- of A.C.T. International of P.O.Box 1649, Brentwood, TN 37024-1649, at: Artists in Christian Testimony (A.C.T.) International where you can make a donation online under 'Donate' tab, then look for 'Michael Ireland Media Missionary' under 'Donation Category' to support his stated mission of 'Truth Through Christian Journalism.' Michael is a member in good standing of the National Writers Union, Society of Professional Journalists, Religion Newswriters Association, Evangelical Press Association and International Press Association. If you have a news or feature story idea for Michael, please contact him at: ANS Senior International Reporter|
** You may republish this story with proper attribution.