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Tuesday, 27 October, 2020

7 Christian converts sentenced to imprisonment, banishment and fine

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Human Rights in Iran – Monday, June 29, 2020 / The Revolutionary Court of Bushehr issued a lawsuit against Habib Heidari, Pouria Peyma, Sam Khosravi, Sasan Khosravi, Fatemeh Talebi, Maryam Fallahi and her sister Marjan Fallahi and sentenced these seven Christian converts living in Bhshehr (South of Iran) to 5 years and 3 months in prison, banishment, denial of social activities and fines.

According to Human Rights in Iran quoting the Article 18 (news agency), Habib Heidari, Pouria Peyma, Sam Khosravi, Sasan Khosravi, Fatemeh Talebi, Maryam Fallahi and her sister Marjan Fallahi, seven Christian converts living in Bhshehr (South of Iran) were sentenced to 5 years and 3 months in prison, banishment, fines and deprivation of social activities on charges of propaganda against the regime.

On the basis of a lawsuit filed by Bushehr Revolutionary Court, Sam Khosravi and Sasan Khosravi were each sentenced to one year in prison, two years of banishment from Bhshehr and 8 million Tomans in fines. Habib Heidari, another defendant in the case, was also sentenced to one year in prison on charges of propaganda against the regime. Also Pouria Peyma was sentenced to 91 days in prison on the same charges.

In another part of the lawsuit, Maryam Fallahi and her sister Marjan Fallahi were each received a fine of 6 million Tomans, but Maryam Fallahi was in addition banned from working for national and government institutions. If convicted, Maryam Fallahi will have to leave her job after 20 years of working in a hospital in Bhshehr because of her religious beliefs. Also Fatemeh Talebi, the wife of Pouria Peyma, was sentenced to pay a fine of 4 million Tomans, equivalent to two months of average salary.

The issued verdict was announced orally to these people, and the judicial officials in the branch prevented them from taking notes and writing the contents of the verdict.

In the early hours of June, 1, 2019, following a raid by Bhshehr Intelligence Department agents on the private residences of these seven Christian converts, they were arrested, their homes were ransacked, their personal belongings were confiscated and all of them were transferred to an undisclosed location.

On July 15 and 16, 2019, these seven people along with Mrs. Khatoon Fathollah-Zadeh, eight Christian converts living in Bushehr province, were arrested following an attack by the city’s Intelligence Department agents and transferred to solitary confinement in Intelligence Department. After completing the investigation process, each of them was temporarily released on a bail of 300 million Tomans.

It should be noted that during the raid by the officers, at the time of inspections, the young children were also present at the scene, and the security forces treated these Christian converts with harsh and disrespectful behavior.

Security forces raided Mrs. Khatoon Fathollah-Zadeh’s home with six vehicles and arrested her, but she was released on the first day of her detention due to old age, however, the other seven Christian converts were arrested and taken to the solitary confinement of Bushehr Intelligence Department, and were interrogated without access to a lawyer or other defendants’ rights.

The repression of Christians in Iran is growing, while in international communities, Mohammad Javad Zarif, foreign minister of Iran, and officials from the Judiciary’s Human Rights Headquarters, have repeatedly denied the use of violent behavior and extrajudicial treatments on Christian converts and religious dissidents.

Since the beginning of the Islamic Revolution in 1979, at least six church leaders have been killed in Iran, and hundreds of Christians have been interrogated and imprisoned.

Moreover, the publication of the Christian Bible in Persian has been prohibited, some of the churches have been closed and church ceremonies in Persian have been banned.

It should be noted that despite the fact that according to the law Christians are recognized as one of the followers of religions, but the security services are following the issue of Muslims’ conversion to Christianity with a certain sensitivity and have a violent attitude towards activists in this field.

The suppression of religious dissidents in Iran violates International Human Rights Instruments, including Articles 18 and 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, as well as Article 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, adopted on December 16, 1966, which stipulates: “Everyone shall have the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion. This right shall include freedom to have or to adopt a religion or belief of his choice, and freedom, either individually or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in worship, observance, practice and teaching.”

Also the individuals’ right to a fair trial is one of the inalienable rights accentuated in Article 10 of Universal Declaration of Human Rights

In most cases, the extrajudicial and arbitrary detention of citizens and civil activists with vage and trumped-up accusations is in the line of suppression of Freedom of Expression and opinion, which in International Instrument of Human Rights, in Article 19 of Universal Declaration of Human Rights, as well as in Article 19 of International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, adopted on December 16th 1966, there is emphasis on not suppressing of the individuals because of Freedom of Expression and opinion. Regarding the Principle of Freedom of Expression, every individual has the right to express his/her opinions and viewpoints in any way possible, without considering border restrictions.

The Note to Article 48 is one of the most controversial legal provisions in the Iranian judicial system, which has been criticized by many jurists since its implementation. One of the critics of this Note is Amnesty International, which this human rights defender organization, on May 16, 2018, issued a statement in response to its approval by the Parliament Legal and Judicial Commission.

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