Christians lose appeals against jail sentences in Shiraz

Christians lose appeals against jail sentences in Shiraz

Left to right: Homayoun Shokouhi, Mojtaba Hosseini, Vahid Hakkani, and Mohammad-Reza Partovi.

An appeals court in Shiraz today upheld the prison sentences of four Christian converts.

In June, after already spending eight months in prison, Mojtaba Hosseini, Homayoun Shokouhi, Vahid Hakkani, and Mohammad-Reza Partovi were each sentenced to three years and eight months in prison on charges of participating in house-church meetings, propagating and spreading Christianity, propaganda against the regime, and disrupting national security.

This verdict has now been upheld by the appeals court, meaning the Christians will remain in the so-called “Ward of Lessons” in Adel Abad Prison in Shiraz, known for its poor conditions.

The Christians were first arrested at a house-church prayer meeting on 8 February 2012.

In recent weeks, prisoners of conscience in the “Ward of Lessons” have faced more restrictions and pressures. According to a report from the Majzooban Noor website, which reports on the situation of Gonabadi dervishes, for more than a month political prisoners and prisoners of conscience have been prevented from access to regular drinking water. 

Instead, these prisoners, including dervishes, Christians and Baha’is, have been forced to buy water from the prison shop at a very high price. 

During the last two weeks, the deterioration of the cooling system in the prison has led to an increase in water consumption, which has therefore come at an additional cost to the prisoners. 

Trusted sources, in addition, report that the prisoners in the Ward of Lessons are not allowed fresh air, nor to receive adequate food.

Prisoners’ appeals to prison officials have so far been fruitless.

More than 42 Christians are currently in prison in Iran because of their Christian beliefs and activities, according to credible reports. In addition, 45 other Christians are awaiting trial or a final verdict.

Despite three months of the new government, there is still no change in the process of suppression and inhumane treatment of Christians, especially Persian-speaking converts.