Isfahan converts lose appeals against jail sentences

Isfahan converts lose appeals against jail sentences

Thirteen converts to Christianity have lost their appeals against one-year jail sentences and two-year travel bans.

The verdict was recorded at Branch 14 of the Appeals Court of Isfahan Province on Sunday 5 April. 

Article18 understands that the converts are determined to appeal again to a higher court.

Nasrin Kiamarzi, Maryam Bateni Nia, Akbar Ahmadi, Bita Ja’fari, Abbas (Peyman) Kiani, Fatemeh (Arina) Zarei, Masoumeh (Sahar) Dashti, Ramin Bakhtiarvand, sisters Leila, Sara and Samira (Atena) Fooladi, and two other unnamed converts, were first arrested on 20 February 2013 during a raid on their “house church”.

They were released on bail a month later, but convicted on 18 June 2013 at the Revolutionary Court of Shahin Shahr, north of Isfahan, of “propaganda against the regime, the propagation of evangelical Christianity, and the formation of house churches”, under Article 500 of the Penal Code.

At least 93 Christians are currently in prison in Iran because of their religious faith and activities. In the first two months of this year alone, 18 Christians in Rasht, Tonekabon, Karaj and Isfahan were sentenced to a combined total of 23 years and nine months in prison. At the same time, new arrests have been reported in Bushehr and Tonekabon.

Ahmed Shaheed, UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in Iran, in March expressed concern over “the underlying causes” of targeting of prisoners of conscience, and the widespread use of “vaguely defined national-security charges”.

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