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Iranian Christian woman released from prison

Iranian Christians give thanks to God for the release from prison on August 1 of Maryam Naghash Zargaran (also known as Nasim). However, Maryam’s release follows a series of harsh prison sentences imposed on Iranian Christians.

A convert from Islam, Maryam served a four-year sentence in the women's ward of Evin Prison in Tehran, Middle East Concern reports. She was imprisoned on July 15, 2013, after she was found guilty of “propagating against the Islamic regime, and colluding to undermine national security.”

Maryam suffers from heart disease, for which she requires regular medical attention. Harsh prison conditions have also resulted in her suffering from depression.

Iranian Christians request prayer:

• That the Lord will strengthen Maryam mentally and physically

• That Maryam will receive the medical attention she needs

• For a joyful reunion with family, and that Maryam will adjust well to ordinary life after her long prison sentence

• That those responsible for the persecution of Christians in Iran will love mercy, act justly, learn about Jesus and choose to follow Him

Update on imprisoned Christians

Iranian Christians praise the Lord for Amin Afshar Naderi's release from prison on bail on July 25. They request prayer for his health following a 21-day hunger strike, and for the appeal process for him and the two believers sentenced with him, Middle East Concern reports.

Following a harsh court verdict, Amin went on hunger strike until his release on bail. During that time his health deteriorated rapidly.

In a verdict delivered on July 3 and 4, Amin was sentenced to 15 years (possibly including time already served). Also sentenced with him were Pastor Victor Bet Tamraz and Hadi Asgari, both for 10 years, and all were given two-year travel bans.

Bail amounts previously set were also raised by the judge, who set bail for Amin at 270 million Tomans (approximately $80,000) and for Hadi at 170 million Tomans (approximately $50,000). They have filed an appeal against their sentences and await a hearing.

Amin was among several Christians arrested on December 26, 2014, at a Christmas celebration at Pastor Victor's home in Tehran. Pastor Victor, who is of Assyrian background, was verbally charged with “conducting evangelism,” “illegal house church activities” and “Bible printing and distribution” (among other charges). He was released on bail on March 1, 2015.

Amin, a convert from Islam, was charged with “acting against national security” and “insulting the sacred” (blasphemy). Hadi, also a convert, was not present at the Christmas celebration but was arrested in August 2016 at a picnic in Firuzkuh and charged with "acting against national security" and "organizing and creating house churches.” Hadi remains in prison.

Iranian Christians request prayer:

• That Amin will know the Lord's complete healing and restoration following his imprisonment and hunger strike

• That bail money will be returned

• That the appeal judge will overturn the convictions and sentences and acquit Pastor Victor, Amin and Hadi

• That Hadi will be released from prison soon

Postponed hearing

Iranian Christians request prayer for Shamiram Isavi Khabizeh, the wife of Pastor Victor Bet Tamraz, whose court hearing has been postponed by three weeks.

Shamiram was called to attend a hearing on July 31 in Tehran at Branch 26 of the Islamic Revolutionary Court. Her lawyer appeared in court on July 31 and requested a postponement of the hearing as he had no access to the case files and needs to go through all case-related documentation prior to the hearing. The hearing was postponed until August 21.

Shamiram was summoned by the authorities in June to Branch 3 of the Islamic Revolutionary Court, and charged with “participating in foreign seminars” and "acting against Iranian national security" as a church member. She was released after one day, on bail of 100 million Tomans (approximately $30,000).

Iranian Christians request prayer:

• That the judge will acquit Shamiram

• That bail money will be returned to the family

• That those responsible for the persecution of Christians in Iran will love mercy, act justly, learn about Jesus and choose to follow Him

Iranian Christian on hunger strike

In recent weeks, 11 Christians, including two church pastors, have been sentenced to lengthy prison terms of 10 years or more, ostensibly on charges of (or related to) acting against national security.

In response to this injustice, a 30-year-old Christian convert and prisoner Ebrahim Firouzi announced a 10-day hunger strike to protest against the mistreatment of new Christian believers and converts by the judicial authorities in Iran. Middle East Concern said.

Prior to commencing the hunger strike Ebrahim issued the following statement:

“Following the mistreatment of new Christian believers and converts by the judicial authorities, refusing Christian prisoners access to Christian literature, and issuing unjust and hefty verdicts and sentences against new Christian believers and converts to the point that in the recent months tens of Christians have been sentenced to long years of imprisonment, I hereby announce going on hunger strike, commencing on 17th July 2017, for a period of 10 days, in support of the rights of fellow Christians

“I have announced my concerns about these limitations on Christians to the judiciary of Tehran in a letter dated 16th July 2017: the regime of Iran does not determine or confirm the Christian faith of people and this matter is entirely within the jurisdiction of the Church.”

Ebrahim Firouzi was arrested in Tehran on August 21, 2013. He was due for release in January 2015 after serving a 10-month prison sentence for propaganda against the regime, insulting Islamic sacraments and acting against national security, but the Iranian authorities brought additional charges against him of “acting against national security, gathering, and collusion” and sentenced him to an additional 5 years’ imprisonment. Ebrahim is serving his sentence in Rajaei Shahr Prison in Karaj.

List of Christians given prison sentences in Iran since June 2017:
Pastor Victor Bet Tamraz (10 years)
Amin Afshar Naderi (15 years)
Hadi Asgari (10 years)
Pastor Yousef Nadarkhani (10 years)
Mohammad Reza Omidi (10 years)
Mohammad Ali Mosayebzadeh (10 years)
Zaman Fadaie (10 years)
Naser Navard Goltapeh (10 years)
Bahram Nasibov (10 years)
Yusif Farhadov (10 years)
Eldar Gurbanov (10 years)



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