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Homayoun Shokouhi released after more than three years in prison

Homayoun Shokouhi released after more than three years in prison

Homayoun Shokouhi

Christian prisoner Esmail (Homayoun) Shokouhi was yesterday released after 40 months in Adel Abad Prison in Shiraz.

Homayoun was arrested on 8 February 2012, along with several other Christians at a “house church” in Shiraz. At the same time, his wife, Fariba, and 17-year-old son, Nima, were also arrested and subsequently released on bail until the trial.

On 10 June 2013, Homayoun and three other Christians were sentenced at the Shiraz Revolutionary Court to three years and eight months in prison for “propaganda against the regime and action against national security by attending a house-church, evangelising and propagating Christianity”. Fariba was meanwhile sentenced to two years in prison, and Nima to 18 months’ suspended imprisonment.

The Christian converts were held in the Band-e-Ebrat (Ward of Lessons) ward of Adel Abad Prison, which is notorious for its poor conditions, including denial of access to medical care and clean drinking water, and a lack of cooling facilities in the summer, and heating in the winter.

Homayoun was released on parole on 10 November 2014, but his family’s joy was soon quashed when, less than two months later, the authorities said they had made a mistake in issuing the release order, and he was forced to return to prison to complete his sentence. He returned to prison in April.

Homayoun is the last of the four Christians to be released. Mohammad-Reza (Koroush) Partovi was released on 13 May, 2014, Vahid Hakkani was released on 26 January, 2015, and Mojtaba Hosseini was released on 18 March, 2015.

Ahmed Shaheed, the UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in Iran, in his March report expressed “deep concern” about the situation of religious minorities in Iran, noting the particular pressures on converts who leave Islam and on the Christians who evangelise to them.