Convert flogged for second time, now faces exile

Convert flogged for second time, now faces exile

Saheb must now travel to Nehbandan (pictured), 1,000 miles from his home in Rasht.

A house-church leader who has already spent nearly five years in prison, and was once flogged for drinking Communion wine, has been flogged a second time and now faces two years in exile. 

Zaman Fadaie, who is known as Saheb, was flogged again on Sunday, 25 June, having travelled from his home in Rasht, northern Iran, to Tehran in the hope of securing the release of a property deed submitted long ago for his bail.

But instead of receiving the property deed back, Saheb was told that despite his recent “pardoning”, two punishments remained on his case file that had yet to be enforced: 50 lashes for not returning to prison on time following a furlough, and two years’ exile in the city of Nehbandan, 1,000 miles from home, as part of a separate conviction for “spreading propaganda against the regime”.

Saheb, who is part of the “Church of Iran”, was served his 50 lashes on the spot, and then told he must submit himself to the authorities in Nehbandan, which is close to the Afghan border, within the “next few days”.

Saheb, who recently celebrated his 42nd birthday, is married to Marjan, who travelled with him to Tehran and waited outside as he was flogged, and they have a 16-year-old daughter, Marta.

Marjan told Saheb she was willing to travel with him into exile, but Saheb does not want his family to have to endure the punishment alongside him, or to take Marta away from her home and friends.

Therefore, Saheb and his family must now prepare themselves for yet another separation, and Marjan will have to take sole charge of the new grocery store the couple have set up together since Saheb’s release.

Saheb’s friend and fellow former prisoner, Yousef Nadarkhani, has also been flogged since his release from prison – also for not returning to prison on time from a furlough – and faces two years in exile in Nikshahr, 450 miles further south of Nehbandan.

Nikshahr and Nehbandan belong, respectively, to the provinces of Sistan and Baluchestan and South Khorasan, two of the poorest in Iran and therefore with limited work opportunities. Christian convert Ebrahim Firouzi was also sent into exile in Sistan and Baluchestan province after his release from prison, while Youhan Omidi, who was imprisoned alongside Saheb and Yousef, was sent to the equally remote city of Borazjan, in far southwestern Iran.