Two Christians imprisoned in Iran for their leadership roles in the church were released days after a fire broke out in Tehran’s Evin prison on October 15, but rights advocates said they had been released. I was perplexed as to why.
Pastor Naser Navard Goltapeh, who was held in solitary confinement for two months, was pardoned by Supreme Leader Ali Khamanei and released from Evin Prison on October 17, rights advocates said. On October 18, Fariba Daryl, who was held in solitary confinement for 38 days after being arrested for starting a house church in July 2021, was also released from Evin Prison.
She was also pardoned, but her powers remained unknown. Both amnesties were unexpected and had previously been denied, according to religious freedom advocates.
“Various agencies, such as the British government and the United Nations, [Pastor Goltapeh’s] We know Evin prison is housing protesters and is running out of space, but we don’t know why Kamanay suddenly did this,” said an Iranian expert at the advocacy group Middle East Concern (MEC). said the house.
On condition of anonymity, Reverend Gortappe repeatedly requested an early release and deportation, but was denied, MEC sources said, requesting anonymity. Daryl said he applied for early release in August, but was denied. Both Reverend Gortape and Darryl had served more than one-third of his sentence and were eligible for early release under Iranian law.
Gortape was arrested along with three other Christians in June 2016 at an engagement party in Karaj, near Tehran, according to the MEC. He and his three men from Azerbaijan were taken to Evin prison, where they were interrogated repeatedly and held in solitary confinement for two months.
They were indicted and released on bail in October 2016 on charges of “missionary work” and “acting against national security.” A month later, the three Azerbaijani men were allowed to leave Iran, but Reverend Gortape, an Iranian who converted from Islam, had to stay to stand trial.
In May 2017, Pastor Gortappe was convicted of “acts against national security through the formation and establishment of illegal house churches” and sentenced to 10 years in prison. His appeal was unsuccessful and he appeared in Evin Prison in January 2018.
After the coronavirus outbreak in prison, Pastor Gortape endured abuse by guards and refusal to treat a painful gum infection and COVID-19. I had dental treatment in 2021.
Daryl, a convert from Islam, was sentenced to five years in prison in November 2021 for “acting against national security by founding and leading an evangelical Christian church.” . Darryl was denied parole for the fifth time in July, according to the human rights group’s Article 18. She had also been denied retrials several times.
Her sentence was later reduced to two years after the presiding judge realized she had mismanaged her case.
Members of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps arrested Darryl along with five other Christians in July 2021. Guards held Daryl in her cell for 38 days before transferring her to a women’s prison until she was released on bail in November of that year.
Darryl began serving his sentence in April. At the time of her release, she had completed more than one-third of her sentence and was eligible for parole, but in August her application for her conditional release was denied. .
Reverend Gortape (also spelled Gortape) was in the middle of a 10-year prison sentence when he was released. With his future plans unknown, Gortape was staying with his family at the time of writing this article.
fire and riot
Officials have not commented on the release of Pastors Gortappe and Darryl, but the release follows a riot that broke out at Evin Prison on Oct. 15 and the ensuing fire. It was done after destroying many. Gortape was once held captive.
Eight prisoners died in the incident and about 60 were injured. Iranian officials claimed the deaths were due to smoke inhalation, but Amnesty International reported that some of the wounded prisoners had been shot, and the government likely underreported the total number of casualties. reported.
According to the MEC, no Christian prisoners were injured in the fire. According to Article 18, at least 12 Christian prisoners of conscience were imprisoned in Evin Prison when the fire broke out, many of them in Ward 7, adjacent to Ward 7, where the worst damage was reported. They were housed in ward 8.
The riots and fires destroyed enough of the prison that authorities were forced to move an unknown but significant number of prisoners to other facilities. It is possible that Christian prisoners have been transferred, but there are no reports of such transfers at the time of this writing.
Built in 1972, Evin Prison was originally intended to house political prisoners arrested by SAVAK, the Shah of Iran’s secret police. After the 1979 Iranian revolution overthrew the Shah’s regime, Evin Prison became not only a place for political prisoners, but also a place where the Shia Muslim regime imprisoned and tortured religious adherents and crushed their will to follow their faith. became known internationally.
Iran ranked 9th as the most difficult country to become a Christian on Open Doors USA’s 2022 World Watch List, a Christian advocacy group.
This article was first published by Morning Star News.
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