The family of a Christian convert pastor executed by the Islamic Republic of Iran is grieving after the grave of their loved one was desecrated.
A cement slab commemorating the burial site of pastor Hussein Soodmand and other political dissidents was recently removed, according to the nonprofit watchdog group Article 18.
Soodmand was killed over 29 years ago on Dec. 3, 1990. The Assemblies of God pastor who converted to Christianity in the 1960s served in ministry for over two decades. He was accused of apostasy and sentenced to death by hanging.
Article 18, which promotes religious freedom and tolerance for Christians in Iran, reports that Soodmand was buried on the edge of the Beheshte-Reza cemetery in the northeast city of Mashhad.
But the only indication that he was buried in that location was the nondescript concrete slab above his grave.
An Article 18 spokesperson 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.
“All we know is that this place where he was buried, which used to be outside of the main cemetery by quite a distance [but] has over time come to be just on its outskirts,” the Article 18 representative explained. “So it is for this reason that now, after all this time, they have sought to use the space for further development of the cemetery. [It’s] so they can offer the site for other families to bury their own dead.”
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SOURCE: Christian Post, Samuel Smith