News

Christian convert: ‘If you care about human rights, why am I in prison?’

Christian convert: ‘If you care about human rights, why am I in prison?’

A Christian convert serving a six-year prison sentence for leading a house-church has queried how the head of Iran’s judiciary can speak about “defending human rights” while people like him are in prison only for their beliefs.

In a voice message from prison, Saheb Fadaie quotes the recent comments of Gholam Hossein Mohseni Ejei, who said last month: “Let us defend human rights, hand in hand.”

Saheb responds: “Meanwhile, I am in prison because of my faith in Jesus Christ, and the Islamic Republic of Iran has deprived me of my freedom and my right to follow my heart in choosing my beliefs.”

He adds: “Mr Ejei speaks of ‘human rights’. If I am a human being, I should have the right to choose my beliefs. I have my own thoughts, and my heart tells me that Jesus Christ is the way to salvation.

“Why then, because of making this choice, have I been sentenced to six years in prison, and spent the past four years in prison – four years that may be quick enough to say, but in reality have been four years in which I have been separated from my family, when I have been away from my wife and away from my child – my daughter, who in these four years has most felt the need for me to be by her side.

“During these four years, I have not been with my daughter on any of her birthdays, and despite what Mr Ejei said, I think that this is an example of a gross violation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran.

“And of course, I’m not alone. As many may know, there are too many of us [Christians] in Iranian prisons. And I think that Mr Ejei, who claims that human rights and the rights of a human being should not be ignored, should think of a solution for our human rights, so that the problem we Christians have will be solved once and for all.”

Saheb was one of three Christian prisoners of conscience to write an open letter in October, calling for Persian-speaking Christians to be given a place to worship.

This letter and the video messages from the two other prisoners, Babak Hosseinzadeh and Behnam Akhlaghi, formed the basis of Article18’s subsequent campaign for all Christians in Iran to be given a #place2worship.

Saheb details in his video message how the chief prosecutor of Tehran visited him in September and ordered a reduction in his sentence or release on an electronic tag, only to later overrule himself

“All this shows the disregard for human rights in Iran,” he says, before the call is interrupted by an automated message: “This call is being made from a prison. The caller is a prisoner.”