Ebrahim Firouzi still in prison as church council voices concern

Ebrahim Firouzi still in prison as church council voices concern

A photograph of Ebrahim Firouzi, above the logo of the Hamgaam council of churches.

The Council of United Iranian Churches (Hamgaam) has called on the Iranian authorities to “immediately and unconditionally” release Christian convert Ebrahim Firouzi, and “stop persecuting him”.

The 34-year-old remains in prison in Zahedan, far southeastern Iran, despite receiving assurances last week that he would be released by Saturday 20 February.

Indeed, as Article18 reported, it was only on this proviso that Ebrahim ended his indefinite hunger strike.

Hamgaam’s statement, published earlier today, calls for Ebrahim’s “immediate and unconditional release”, and for Christians and rights organisations around the world to continue to advocate for him until he is freed.

“The Ministry of Intelligence of the Islamic Republic has not stopped harassing and persecuting Mr. Firouzi, even in exile,” the statement says, “and by making new charges and confiscating his property, it has made life more inhumane and difficult for him in his exile in Rask.”

Ebrahim has been living in enforced exile 1,000 miles from his home, as a form of continued punishment following his release from more than six years in prison in November 2019 – all for his peaceful Christian activities.

And in exile he is set to remain until October 2022, having had his two-year sentence increased by 11 months early last year for an “unauthorised” leave of absence.

Still, Ebrahim at least had that date to look forward to in the hope of finally regaining his freedom, but the new charges against him have further crushed his spirits.

The charges – of “propaganda against the Islamic Republic in favour of hostile groups” and “insulting the sacred” (blasphemy)” – were brought two weeks ago after six videos of Ebrahim were published online, in which he complained against the continued rights violations against him, including the confiscation of his property and harassment of his brother, who is not a Christian.

Then, having gone to answer the charges on 8 February, Ebrahim was immediately detained, and taken to Chabahar Prison, over 100 miles south of Rask.

It was then that he declared his intention to begin an indefinite hunger strike on 13 February, which he would only end if the charges against him were dropped or he at least had the chance to defend himself in court against properly-documented charges.

Ebrahim ended his hunger strike three days later, after receiving assurances from two visiting intelligence agents, and was then transferred to Zahedan Prison, some 400 miles north of Chabahar.

However, despite those assurances, it is there he remains.

Article18’s advocacy director, Mansour Borji, last week cautiously welcomed reports that Ebrahim would soon be freed, and thanked Christians around the world for sending in their messages of solidarity.

But, as Mr Borji noted at the time, there remains concern for Ebrahim “until his actual release”.

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