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Iranian Christian Prisoners
Christian prisoner, Maryam Naghash Zargaran (Nasim) who had been granted a leave for medical treatment was forced to report back to Evin prison in the middle of her treatment as Tehran’s Attorney General refused to extend her leave permit.
Mohabat News _ Maryam Naghash Zargaran, who had been on a medical leave since last Tuesday was forced to interrupt her medical treatment and return to Evin prison.
She has been in prison for her faith for more than 30 months in the women’s ward of Evin prison. She was initially summoned to the intelligence office for questioning in February 2011. The subject of these interrogations was her involvement in house-church activities and this was usually accompanied by harassment of her family. Eventually she was summoned to the intelligence office and arrested, a few days after Pastor Saeed Abedini’s arrest. Pastor Abedini is an Iranian American pastor who was arrested during his visit to Iran to help establish an orphanage in northern Iran.
Also, Ms. Zargaran’s house was raided the same day as her arrest. Security authorities thoroughly searched her house and confiscated her Christian books and articles along with other personal belongings. Immediately after her arrest, she was moved to Evin prison for fingerprinting and then admitted to Vozara detention center without being officially charged. She was kept there for five days with little to no access to hygiene where she was interrogated regularly. Most questions during interrogation sessions were related to the rapid growth of their house church, asking about people who attended their services and how the services were conducted.
Later on, she was officially charged with “Propaganda against the Islamic regime”, in Branch 2 of Shahid Moghadas Court House and then transferred to Evin prison.
After spending 19 days in Evin prison’s women’s ward, she was temporarily released on a heavy bail.
During her trial she was sentenced to four years in prison for “gathering, collusion and action against national security”, while initially she had not been charged with such accusations.
In her case, the bases for her charge were stated as follows:
• Converting from Islam to Christianity
• Active membership in an Assemblies of God church
• Establishment of a house-church to attract the youth to Christianity
• Contact with foreign Christian ministries for evangelism in Iran
• Traveling to Turkey to attend Christian conferences
Part of her conviction letter reads:
“The court considers the acts committed by the convict as being in line with England and Occupied Palestine’s [Israel’s] anti-security agenda to spread Christianity in Iran in order to pervert Iranian society from Islam. Therefore, according to articles 610 and 46 of the Islamic Penal Code, the above named person will be sentenced to four years in prison, taking into account her days under detention.”
Her sentence was approved in the appeals court as well and she was summoned to Evin prison on July 15, 2013 to serve her sentence.
She is currently serving her four year sentence while last June, the Iranian Ministry of Intelligence announced that they were unaware of her case being processed in the judicial system. After two years they have announced that they take full responsibility for this case and will begin its review soon!
In the last two years in prison, Ms. Zargaran was labeled as a “special prisoner” and thus subject to harassment by judicial authorities. She was denied the right to have her brother and sister visit her for months and was given false promises for being given temporary leave permits. She was even denied the right to medical leave until recently.
Ms. Zargaran underwent heart surgery about nine years ago as she suffered from Atrial septal defect (ASD) and has been in need of regular medical check-ups ever since. In addition, she has been suffering from numbness in her limbs as well as chronic joint pain since last year. The early diagnosis results show that she is suffering from lumbar disc, arthritis and osteoporosis. The prison’s physician prescribed her to be hospitalized for five days and receive physiotherapy immediately, but the Attorney General refused to grant permission for her hospitalization. During her time in prison, she has been struggling with Anemia, Diabetes and High Cholesterol as well, while being denied any treatment.