By BosNewsLife Middle East Service
TEHRAN, IRAN (BosNewsLife)– Rights activists said late Friday, October 4, they were “extremely concerned” about what they called “a serious deterioration in the health” of a 35-year-old Iranian Christian woman who is serving a four year sentence in Tehran’s notorious Evin Prison.
Maryam Naghash Zargaran, who was imprisoned in July 2013, has a history of heart complications and underwent cardiovascular surgery several years ago.
Iranian Christians said she is currently in hospital under guard. Her condition has been exacerbated by prison conditions, and she is said to be in a critical condition, according to Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) an advocacy group following the case.
The Christian woman was detained in late 2012 and security agents searched her home, confiscating Christian materials and a computer, Christians said.
Following her arrest, “Maryam was held for three days in Vozara detention centre, a facility run by the Iranian Intelligence Ministry,” CSW said.
She was subsequently transferred to the women’s ward in Evin Prison, where she “suffered interrogation for 19 days”, before being released after posting bail of 70 million Tomans (around $61,000), and surrendering the title deeds of a family home.
In January 2013, she received a summons to court and was told by Branch 28 of the Islamic Revolutionary Court in Tehran that she was charged under article 610 of the Islamic Penal Code with “conducting propaganda against the Islamic regime and acting against the national security.”
The court also determined that she had set up house churches and propagated Christianity, activities it deemed as “being in line with the hostile aims of the UK and Israelis to spread house churches inside Iran and corrupt Islamic society,” trial observers said.
The Christian was found guilty and sentenced to four years imprisonment on March 9. On July 15, she was told to report to the Shahid Moghades Court to serve her sentence, and was subsequently transferred to the notorious Evin Prison to begin the sentence, CSW said.
Mervyn Thomas, chief executive of CSW told BosNewsLife that his group is “extremely concerned to learn of Mayram Naghash Zargaran’s” deteriorating condition. “Like so many others, she has been detained on political charges simply for practicing her faith peaceably,” he explained.
“We urge President Rouhani to secure Maryam’s immediate release from prison, where the conditions clearly caused her already fragile health to decline dramatically.”
He said it is crucial that the world “does not forget the many prisoners of conscience held in Iran on false political charges, and ensures that President Rouhani fulfills his promise to release all political prisoners.”
He said Iran’s recently elected leader must also be encouraged to be “more proactive in guaranteeing freedom of religion and belief for all religious communities,” including Christians, “in line with Iran’s international obligations under the International Convent on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR).”
(BosNewsLife, the first truly independent news agency covering persecuted Christians, is ‘Breaking the News for Compassionate Professionals’ since 2004).
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