On 27 August, the Rajaei prison in Karaj published a list of drug-related criminals who were sentenced to death by execution. Alireza Asadi, a new Christian believer who was once convicted of drug trafficking, was among these names.
The executions took place despite requests for the suspension of these executions made to Iran by Ahmed Shaheed, The Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Iran.
Alireza had asked his brother to share his story and his testimony before his death. His brother shared his bio and story with FCNN and sent us exclusive photos from Iran before and after the execution took place:
Alireza Asadi, our youngest brother, was born in 1987 in Tehran, Iran. He was the last child in our family of six brothers and one sister. Our father was traveling most of the time due to his job as a lorry driver, leaving our mother to care for the family. She was both a mother and father for us, and especially for Alireza.
Alireza had a happy childhood and was very playful, and he and I had a good relationship. We tried to take care of him during his childhood, paying careful attention to his education, so that he would know how much his family loved him. Alireza loved sports, seriously pursuing Judo weightlifting professionally.
Alongside sports and his education, Alireza worked to help the family income. He had a good heart and was so compassionate, doing all he could for his friends and family. After a while, he opened a coffee shop in which he openly welcomed his friends.
A couple of years ago I was forced to leave Iran, and from that time on, whenever I called my family they had no news from Alireza. After five months, we found out that Alireza was in prison, and as we sought after the reason, we discovered that he had been found guilty of drug trafficking. It was such hard news for us to believe because we had never known Alireza to ever use drugs or even smoke before.
One day, Alireza called and said, ‘I came to Jesus and accepted Him as my Lord!’
At that time it had been about one year since Alireza had been in prison, but he said he felt like a free man. He explained to us how he had forgiven everyone and reached a kind of peace that you could only experience with Christ. In prison, he talked about Jesus to his fellow prisoners, and they gathered together and prayed.
We were all worried about Alireza and were waiting until he would be set free. We assumed that because it was the first time he committed such crime, he would be pardoned. However, on 24 August 2016, Alireza called my brother and asked him to come and pay him a final visit on Thursday (25 August, 2016) before his execution! We were in disbelief. All I could do was pray for him along with my Christian brothers.
Thankfully, 14 hours before his execution, I was able to contact him to talk. He was so peaceful. I couldn’t feel any worry or fear in his voice as we spoke. He said that he was sure he would rest in God the Father’s arms in eternal peace. Alireza asked me to share his testimony, and my request is to share Alireza’s testimony with others.
Sadly, Alireza was executed on 27 August 2016, three years after being imprisoned. Now he is in eternal peace, in the arms of our heavenly Father.
FCNN is joining Alireza’s family in their mourning for their brother. It is truly sad to hear of someone like Alireza being executed after a single conviction of drug trafficking. We believe his conversion to Christianity and the fact that he denied to recite the Quran as a means for his freedom played a critical role in his execution. He had showed the guards that he has truly met Christ and committed his life to him wholeheartedly. This is something Iran cannot tolerate.
While we are grieved to have lost Alireza, we believe he is now rejoicing with our Lord and Saviour, Jesus, and worshipping Him, as a new creation cleansed by His blood.
Drug trafficking is huge, ongoing problem in Iran. The common boarder with Afghanistan, the world’s largest opium producer, makes it an important route for trafficking the drug over land to Europe. Iran currently has the highest rate of drug addiction in the world, with recent estimates at over 14 percent of the population, and 40% of prisoners in Iran have been convicted on drug related charges. According to published figures, Iran has so far lost close to 3,500 police and security officers to the anti-drug campaign that annually costs the country almost $1 billion and inflicts an annual damage of about $8.5 billion on Iran’s economy. Hundreds of drug smugglers have been executed in Iran.
In 2015, it was estimated by the government of Iran that dirty money from drug trafficking in Iran amounts to $320 million a year, some of which has been finding its way into “elections and the securing of votes” to influence the country’s politics.