Mother-of-three refused access to prison scheme allowing more time with children

Mother-of-three refused access to prison scheme allowing more time with children

The women’s ward of Lakan Prison in Rasht (Photo: Mojnews)

An Iranian mother-of-three serving a two-year sentence for “spreading ‘Zionist’ Christianity” has been denied access to a scheme that would have allowed her to spend most of her time outside prison working and with her children.

Sakine (Mehri) Behjati, who began serving her sentence in April, was hoping she may be able to serve the remainder of her sentence as an unpaid worker at a factory designated by her prison in Rasht, northern Iran, while also being able to see her children more.

But she has now been informed that, despite positive signals from officials at Lakan Prison, her request to join the scheme was refused by the prosecutor’s office in Tehran.

“Mehri was hoping she may be viewed more mercifully because of her children,” explains Article18’s advocacy director, Mansour Borji. “But she has been told she must stay in prison. It’s a blow for her, having wanted to be able to see and spend more time with them.”

Mehri’s three children are aged seven, 11 and 16. 


Mehri was one of four members of a “Church of Iran” house-church arrested in Rasht in February 2020, including her nephew, Hadi (Moslem) Rahimi, and married couple Ramin Hassanpour and Kathrin (Saeede) Sajadpour. 

The four were officially charged in May 2020 and taken to Lakan Prison after being unable to afford the bail set for them – of 500 million tomans (around $30,000).

They were eventually released a week later on reduced bail of 200 million tomans ($11,500).

They were sentenced in August 2020 to between two and five years in prison for “acting against national security” by belonging to a house-church and “spreading Zionist Christianity”. 

Ramin was given a five-year sentence, Moslem four years, and Mehri and Saeede two years.

Their appeals were rejected in September 2020.

On 9 January 2022, Moslem left behind his nine-month-old daughter to begin serving his four-year sentence at Evin Prison so that the property deed submitted by a friend to secure his bail may be released.

A month later, the other three were told they must hand themselves in to the authorities in Tehran by the end of February. 

However, Mehri was later permitted an additional six weeks at home, in order to be able to spend the Iranian New Year, Nowruz, with her family.

Mehri and her nephew, Moslem, applied to the Supreme Court for a retrial, but their applications were rejected by Branch 9 of Iran’s highest court in February.

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