Iran has bulldozed over the grave of a pastor who was tortured and executed by the regime for converting from Islam to Christianity after seeing Jesus in a dream.
In December 1990, the Rev. Hossein Soodmand became the last man to be executed in Iran for apostasy, the “crime” of abandoning one’s religion, after the Islamic Revolution. He had converted from Islam to Christianity in 1960, when he was 13 years old. Twenty-nine years later, he was brutally tortured and hanged by the Iranian authorities for that decision.
Soodmand was buried in “cursed ground” in an unmarked grave in the city of Mashhad. In December, his grave was found bulldozed, his daughter, Rashin Soodmand, told Article 18, a group that promotes religious liberty in Iran.
“As a member of the family of this martyred pastor, I can say that the recent disrespect shown to our father’s grave wounded our hearts yet again,” Rashin told Article 18.
“Our father was killed cruelly and contrary to the law. They buried him in a place they called la’anatabad [accursed place], without our knowledge, and did not even give our family the opportunity to say goodbye to him, or to see his lifeless body,” she added.
“For years we had to travel to this remote place to visit his unmarked grave, and we were not even allowed to construct a gravestone bearing his name. And now they want to completely remove the only sign of him left for us. We will take our appeal to any relevant national or international institution about this disrespect and cruelty.”
A spokesman for Article 18 told The Christian Post that the family discovered that the slab was missing when they went to visit the grave for the 29th anniversary of his death on Dec. 3.
“We don’t know when it happened but we know when they found out,” the spokesperson told CP. “The family had gone to the gravesite for the anniversary and saw what had happened.”
Article 18 was told that there had been talks about the possibility of demolishing graves at the cemetery for years. The organization reports that it can be said that “official authorities” are responsible since they want to “give way to new luxury families graves that wealthy can buy.”
Article 18 can’t say for sure whether the pastor’s body was exhumed from the grave.
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SOURCE: Christian Post, Leah MarieAnn Klett