Church Issues

IRAN: Christian Women Held In Solitary Confinement

May 6,,   2009

mar-marz-christianMaryam Rustampoor (aged 27) and Marzieh Amirizadeh Esmaeilabad (aged 30) continue to be held in the notorious Evin Prison in Teheran. The two Christian women were moved to solitary confinement earlier this week. They had previously been held in an overcrowded cell with 27 other women.

Maryam and Marzieh have been subjected to harsh treatment in prison. It has emerged that both women are former Muslims "“ a prison official told them that they should face execution because they are "apostates". ‚   They have been blindfolded during interrogation and were expected to undergo more questioning this week. The object of the continued interrogation of Maryam and Marzieh is not known but such questioning is often aimed at discovering the identities of those involved in house church activities.

The ordeal of the young Christian women began on 5 March when they were arrested and the apartment that they shared was searched by police who confiscated computers, books and Bibles. They were brought to separate detention centres for interrogation and were later transferred to Evin Prison. There are concerns for the health of both women as they have been reported as suffering from infection and high fever. In April, Marzieh was quoted as saying, "I am dying".

Although no formal charges have been brought against Maryam and Marzieh, their families were previously informed that the women are accused of "acting against state security and "taking part in illegal gatherings". They were also told that they would be released on payment of ¢ ‚ ¬300,000 bail. However, when their families have presented the title deeds of their homes as bail, they were not accepted.

Many international human rights organisations, including Amnesty International, have called for the release of Maryam and Marzieh .