Below are a few examples of Iranian Christian refugees currently stuck in Turkey, whose cases Article18 has documented. Article18 has been asked to advocate for these individuals, and would love to invite you to consider “adopting” one of them - and committing to pray for them, write to them, and seek to support them in their resettlement journey.


In September 2010, Mojtaba and two other Christians were arrested while meeting a friend in the city of Arak to teach him about Christianity.

Mojtaba spent the next 170 days in detention, including a week in solitary confinement, during which time he was interrogated five or six times a day, beaten and insulted.

He was eventually sentenced to three years in prison for “propaganda activities against the regime of the Islamic Republic”, and another three years for “insulting Islamic sanctities”.

This second three-year sentence was later dropped. But despite the best efforts of his lawyer, Mojtaba’s other three-year sentence was upheld, and in July 2012 he received a summons, telling him he must present himself at Arak court to begin his sentence within 20 days.

Mojtaba says that he longed to stay in Iran but decided he had no choice but to flee the country.

So in March 2013, having spent months in hiding, Mojtaba fled the country and travelled to Turkey, and it is there he remains.

Mojtaba has never been interviewed about his asylum claim, and in January 2024 he was suddenly arrested by the Turkish immigration authorities and transferred to a deportation camp.

For more about Mojtaba, read his Witness Statement or our feature article.

Peyman, Leila, Armita and Arta

Peyman and Leila’s daughter, Armita, was just one year old when officers from Iran’s Ministry of Intelligence raided their house-church leadership meeting in Isfahan in February 2013.

Peyman was later arrested and detained for 11 days.

After his release, Peyman discovered that the Ministry of Intelligence had spoken with his employers and ordered that he be fired.

A few months later, Leila and Peyman were sentenced to one year in prison for “propaganda against the regime and setting up house-churches”, and 40–50 lashes for meeting in private with members of the opposite sex who were not wearing Islamic head coverings.

Leila and Peyman were encouraged to leave the country by their pastor and, after much deliberation, decided to do so – for their daughter’s sake.

So in May 2014, the couple flew to Turkey to claim asylum, and it is there they remain. They registered with the UNHCR and were officially recognised as refugees, but are still awaiting relocation. They also now have a son named Arta, who was born in Turkey.

For more about Leila and Peyman, read their Witness Statement or our feature article.

Ehsan and Hana

Ehsan was a university student when he was arrested at a Tehran house-church gathering in November 2015.

When he was released on bail six weeks later, he was told he could no longer study at the university and that if he went back there, he would be arrested and sent back to prison.

By the start of the next academic year, Ehsan had fled the country. A year later, he was sentenced in absentia to five years in prison.

Ehsan and his wife Hana were recognised as refugees by the UNHCR, but their refugee status was later revoked by the Turkish authorities.

For more about Ehsan, read his Witness Statement or our feature article.

Parsa, Donya and Rahil

Parsa’s father beat him and kicked him out of the house when he learned that he had converted to Christianity. He was also fired from his job.

In 2015, Parsa and two of his Christian friends were finalising their plans for a new business venture together, when their premises was raided by agents of the Ministry of Intelligence.

Parsa was detained and interrogated for three weeks, and says he was “severely tortured psychologically”. He was also prevented from completing the final six credits remaining to finish his degree.

Ten months after his release, Parsa fled Iran and sought asylum in Turkey. Three months later, he was sentenced, in absentia, to five years in prison.

But though he claimed asylum in 2016, Parsa is still waiting for an interview with the Turkish authorities. His wife Donya, whom he married in January 2018 and with whom he has a three-year-old daughter, Rahil, has been interviewed and officially recognised as a refugee.

For more about Parsa, read his Witness Statement or our feature article.

Solmaz and Behrad

Solmaz and Behrad are the younger siblings of Leila, Sara and Atena Fooladi, who were sentenced to a year in prison for their membership of a house-church.

Immediately after the news of the arrest of her family members, Solmaz collected everything related to Christianity and hid it outside her home.

The whole family were kept under surveillance and threatened, and their calls were monitored.

Solmaz was responsible for the children’s teaching at the house-church, while Behrad, who was a university student, was summoned by the security officials at the university and told he would not be permitted to graduate.

Solmaz and Behrad fled Iran in 2014 with their sister Leila and brother-in-law Peyman, having realised it was impossible to continue their Christian activities in Iran.

For more about the Fooladi family, read Leila and Peyman’s Witness Statement or our feature article.

Amid, Sanaz, Danial and Benjamin

Amid and Sanaz’s son Danial was just four years old when Ministry of Intelligence agents came to arrest his parents. Amid and Sanaz had converted to Christianity a few years earlier, and after the Persian-speaking church they had been attending was told it could no longer welcome converts, they had started hosting church services in their home.

Amid and Sanaz were detained separately in unknown locations – in conditions Amid describes as “excruciating”, and “like hell” – for 18 and seven days, respectively, during which time they were repeatedly interrogated about their Christian activities, threatened, and told to “repent and return to Islam”.

Even after he was released, Amid says they felt they were under constant supervision. For the first few days, he says they “didn’t even dare to pray at home”.

Less than two months after Amid’s release, the couple fled to Turkey.

They were later sentenced, in absentia, to a year each in prison for “propaganda against the Islamic Republic regime in favour of hostile groups”.

It’s now more than seven years since Amid and Sanaz arrived in Turkey and claimed asylum, but they are still waiting to be interviewed about their case. They now have another son, Benjamin, who was born in 2019.

For more about Amid and Sanaz, read their Witness Statement or our feature article.

Kavian and Atefeh

Kavian was sentenced to 10 years in prison following his arrest at a Christmas gathering in 2014.

The Christian convert was held in solitary confinement for 23 days, and even his glasses were taken away from him.

Kavian says the agents told him that if he “cooperated”, they would reduce his punishment, but that if he refused he’d be held for so long that his hair would “turn white like your teeth”.

Kavian fled Iran while his case was at the appeal stage and later found out his appeal was rejected.

Since leaving Iran, Kavian says he has lived in “complete uncertainty”.

“I registered as an asylum seeker at the United Nations," he said in 2020, "but after years not only was I not interviewed, but I am still in an unstable situation in Turkey, and still the situation really isn’t clear. So I have no clear vision for the future.”

Kavian says he was particularly disappointed when his application for a humanitarian visa to live in Australia was rejected.

“That was a big shock for me,” he says. “I really didn’t expect that such a heavy sentence would be handed down to me, and then that a country that accepts asylum seekers would reject my case, and that this very severe psychological pressure would be placed on me.”

Kavian married Atefeh in Turkey in 2021 and was finally interviewed by the Turkish immigration office in September 2022. However, he is still awaiting their decision.

For more about Kavian, read our feature article.

Bigan, Marzieh and Sina

Bigan and Marzieh have been together in Turkey with their disabled son, Sina, since 2018, when they applied for asylum with the UNHCR as a result of the persecution they had faced in Iran as Christian converts.

They initially applied for asylum years earlier, with Bigan facing a three-year prison sentence for his membership of a house-church.

But when they learned that the lawyer defending Bigan was going to have his licence revoked, and that the elderly couple who had paid for Bigan’s bail were going to lose their house, Bigan felt compelled to return to Iran to serve his prison sentence.

He was released on parole nine months later on the condition that he leave Iran immediately.

“We know your family is in Turkey,” his interrogators told him. “We even know which city they’re in. We know all this. If you leave the country, you won’t have a problem, but if you stay and make a mistake, we will sentence you to prison many times over. Let this be a reminder! We accept your conditional release on these terms! Sign it!”

So Bigan did sign, received his parole, left the prison – and Iran – and joined his family in Denizli.

Bigan was threatened with deportation in 2021, spending over a month in a deportation camp, before being granted protected status as a recognised refugee.

For more about Bigan and his family, read our news article.