A large number of “prisoners of conscience” are currently being held in Iranian prisons, including some Christians, without anyone being aware of their situation.
This claim was made by the Iranian Christian News Agency, Mohabat News, who have reported that the Bahar daily paper, affiliated with Iranian reformist parties, have published an interview with Faezeh Hashemi, daughter of former Iranian president, Ayatollah Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani.
“This was the first published interview with her after her release from prison,” said Mohabat News.
Faezeh Hashemi, who has once been a member of the Iranian parliament, was imprisoned for six months. In the interview, regarding the political and religious orientations of her cellmates in Evin prison, she said, “There were some Baha’i ladies, some members of Mujahidin organization, two Christian ladies, two of the “Mourning Mothers of Park Laleh”, a number of green movement activists, journalists, an Iraqi lady, and some seculars with me in the prison”. The story goes on to say that she remembered her cellmates as “great people” who she met during the six months of her imprisonment.
Mrs. Faezeh Hashemi had been sentenced to six months in prison by Branch 15 of the Revolutionary Court for distributing propaganda against the Islamic regime.
Faezeh Hashemi leading a protest
“Although today a significant number of political prisoners and prisoners of conscience are being held in Iranian prisons without anyone knowing anything about them, these statements of Mrs. Hashemi about seeing two Christian ladies in prison causes the assumption that they could have been Mitra Zahmati and Maryam Jalili. They are still being held in Evin prison since their arrest,” said Mohabat News.
“Little information is available on these two Christian prisoners due to restrictions and the lack of free flow of information in Iran. Security authorities have also threatened the families of the two Christian ladies to not publicize their situation.” However, Mohabat News published a brief article about their situation in December 2011, based on the reports received from its correspondents in Iran. Human Rights activist websites confirmed the arrest and imprisonment of these two Christian women as well.
Maryam Jalili and Mitra Zahmati were arrested in the summer of 2011. Later, an Iranian court sentenced both to 2.5 years in prison for evangelizing, proselytizing Muslims, and for their membership in so called “illegal groups”. They are now serving their sentence.
Another report indicated that both Christian women have been held in the general ward of Evin prison since the summer of 2011. They spent some of their time in the notorious 209 ward and then were transferred to the general ward where, it is believed, they met Faezeh Hashemi, the grand Ayatollah’s daughter.
Please pray for Mitra Zahmati and Maryam Jalili and their families, the safety and salvation of Faezeh Hashemi and her family, and for the persecuted church in Iran.
By Dan Wooding, ASSIST Ministries