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 Wednesday, 15 April. 

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

Nasrin Kiamarzi, Sarah Fouladi, Maryam Bateni-nia, Akbar Ahmadi, Bita Ja’fari, Abbas Kiani, Fatemeh Zareie, Masoumeh Dashti, Ramin Bakhtiarvand, Neda Fouladi, Samira Fouladi, and two other unnamed converts, were first arrested on 2 February 2013 during a raid on their “house church” in Isfahan.

They were released on bail a month later, but convicted on 28 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”.

Article18’s Advocacy Director, Mansour Borji, notes: “The Islamic regime of Iran treats Christians cruelly, while Iran’s Foreign Minister, Mohammad-Javad Zarif, claims that no one is in jail in Iran for their beliefs. Despite President Rouhani’s promises in his campaign, not only do we see no relief of suppression of Christians, but we see an increase in the number of arrests and unfair sentences and the security atmosphere imposed by the Islamic regime on the Iranian Christian community still continues.”