Elsewhere 2 Christians released, but 106 still detained
By Dan Wooding, Founder of ASSIST News Service
TEHRAN, IRAN (ANS – June 1, 2016) — An Iranian Christian serving a four-year jail term for “acting against national security” has gone on hunger strike to protest against the prison’s refusal to allow her to receive treatment for long-standing health issues.
According to World Watch Monitor, Maryam Naghash Zargaran, a convert from Islam, is nearly three years into her sentence at Tehran’s infamous Evin prison. She was originally arrested in January 2013, in connection with her work at an orphanage alongside Saeed Abedini, who was also imprisoned, but eventually released in January this year.
A member of the Zargaran family told Mohabat News: “Maryam hasn’t left her bed in four days. She is burning with fever and has been on hunger strike to raise her protest against prison authorities’ indifference toward her health. She is suffering from serious health issues.
“Before going on hunger strike, she had lost 25kg and her health issues had intensified. Authorities do not show the slightest concern over Maryam’s health. In addition, she is suffering from depression and takes medication for it.”
Middle East Concern (MEC) reported that a number of her fellow prisoners decided to forgo family visits on May 29 to show support.
On May 31, MEC reported that she was briefly taken to hospital on 30 May, after which, on her return to prison, she started to drink water.
Zargaran has a history of heart problems and has recently reported pain in her ears and head. In October 2015 she was allowed to receive a few days’ treatment outside the prison, but forced to return before it was completed.
Rasht Christians bailed, but 106 still detained
World Watch Monitor also revealed that in the northern city of Rasht, two Christians have been released on bail after nearly three weeks in jail.
Yasser Mossayebzadeh and Saheb Fadaie were arrested on 13 May alongside Youcef Nadarkhani, an Iranian pastor once sentenced to death for apostasy, and his wife, Tina. The couple were released later that day, but Mossayebzadeh, Fadaie and another Christian, Mohammad Reza Omidi, were detained.
MEC reports that Mossayebzadeh and Fadaie were each forced to pay the equivalent of $33,000 for bail. Omidi was not given that option, though it is not yet clear why.
A recently updated list from MEC confirms that there are at least 106 Christians currently in jail in Iran.
At least a further 46, including Mossayebzadeh and Fadaie, have been released conditionally, pending sentencing or an appeal.
MEC’s Rob Duncan said the current pressure being placed on Christians in Iran is “not as much through open violence and arrests, as through fear and intimidation.”
“There are fewer raids on house churches, but instead people are summoned to security for interrogation,” he said. “There is a lot of pressure on people to leave the country as a result. Also, when people are arrested and charged, bail demands are high and can financially cripple a family.”
For more information, please go to https://www.worldwatchmonitor.org
Photo caption: 1) Maryam Naghash Zargaran. 2) Dan Wooding recording a radio show.
About the writer: Dan Wooding, 75, is an award-winning winning author, broadcaster and journalist who was born in Nigeria of British missionary parents, and is now living in Southern California with his wife Norma, to whom he has been married for nearly 53 years. They have two sons, Andrew and Peter, and six grandchildren, who all live in the UK. Dan is the founder and international director of the ASSIST News Service (ANS), and the author or co-author of some 45 books. Dan has one radio show and two TV programs all based in Southern California. Before moving to the US, Dan was a senior reporter with two of the UK’s largest circulation newspapers and also an interviewer for BBC Radio One in London.
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