TATEOS MICHAELIAN, acting chairman of the Council of Protestant Ministers in Iran, has been murdered in Tehran. Michaelian, who was 62, disappeared from his home on 29 June and his son was summoned to identify his body on 2 July. Part of his head had been shot away. The Iranian authorities claim he was murdered by one of the opposition groups, as his body was found in a house rented by some students. He had often received anonymous death threats.
Michaelian was a former Executive Secretary of the Presbyterian Synod in Iran. From the 1960s until 1980 he was general secretary of the Iranian Bible Society, and had translated numerous Christian books into Persian. He took over as chairman of the Council of Protestant Ministers in January, following the murder of Bishop Haik Hovsepian Mehr. Like Hovsepian Mehr and many Protestant Christians in Iran, Michaelian was of Armenian origin.
Like all Iran's Christians, Michaelian had to tread a difficult path after the 1979 Islamic Revolution. In the early 1980s, in an interview in a French magazine, he criticised restrictions on Christians following the revolution. Three years later he was summoned by the authorities and accused of counter-revolutionary activity, which he strongly denied. Last December he agreed to sign a controversial government declaration that there is religious freedom in Iran.