Five months after their release a general court trial date is announced.
Maryam and Marzieh are released on bail, both in a state of deteriorated health
Maryam and Marzieh are taken before the Revolutionary Court to face three charges. The anti-state charges against them are dropped, and their case is transferred to a general court which will consider the other two charges - propogation of Christianity and apostasy. They are returned to Evin Prison to await a court date.
Iran's Parliamentary Committee recommends that the cause relating to the death penalty for apostasy be dropped from the Islamic Penal Code Bill, following intense international pressure. However, the Bill has yet to be finalized by the Iranian Parliament.
Iranian elections lead to social and political unrest. The Iranian Government and Ayatollah Khomeini blame foreign elements in the mass demonstrations. In the past, this linking of national unrest with international interference has been associated with increased targeting of non-Muslim religious minorities, deemed by the regime to be sympathizers with a Western agenda.
25 May 2009
The EU publishes a Declaration expressing deep concern about religious persecution in Iran, in particular the persecution of Christians. The EU 'Declaration by the Presidency on behalf of the European Union on the violation of religious freedom in Iran' also reiterates the EU's concerns for other religious minorities in Iran and for those being imprisoned on grounds of their faith.
19 March 2009
Maryam and Marzieh appear in court and are sent to Evin Prison, even though they have not been charged with any crime. Many believe that they have been detained because of their conversion from Islam to Christianity.
5 March 2009
Two Iranian Christian women, Maryam Rostampour (27) and Marzieh Amirizadeh Esmaeilabad (30), have their apartments searched by Iranian security officers. Their Bibles are confiscated along with many other items, and the women are arrested, interrogated, taken to a detention centre and subjected to sleep deprivation.
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|Let's Stand for Religious Freedom and the Wrongfully Imprisoned
|Maryam and Marzieh Face Court Hearing for being Christians
Maryam Rustampoor, 27, and Marzieh Amirizadeh Esmaeilabad, 30, grew up in Iran. They've been Christians for about eight years. They were both studying English and one was a hairdresser, to help pay for school.
On March 5, 2009 one was summoned to the local police department for a standard automobile check-up. Never suspecting arrest, as she hadn't violated any Iranian laws, she showed up with her car at the appointed time.
When she arrived, without explanation, authorities took her back to the apartment she shared with her friend. After searching through the women's home, they confiscated many of their belongings, including their computers and Bibles. And then Maryam and Marzieh were hand-cuffed and arrested. They discovered that they had been deemed "anti-government" and "a threat to national security."
Before being transported to the notorious Evin prison in Iran on March 18, the women were held in solitary confinement. They were frequently blindfolded and interrogated.
The women waited five months in prison without a clear charge against them. During their trial on August 9, it became evident that the main claim filed is "apostasy" (departure from Islam).
After much questioning from the stand, the deputy prosecutor ordered them to recant their Christian faith. Maryam and Marzieh refused.
The judge told them that would be executed as apostates. Maryam and Marzieh reportedly told the judge to expedite his sentence.
After the trial, they were sent back to prison. A month later, in weakened health they were released on bail after 259 days in Iran's notorious Evin Prison wrongfully imprisoned for their Christian faith. still facing two charges: propagation of Christianity and apostasy. They have been receiving medical treatment since then, but both remain unwell, weak and suffer from various illnesses. Despite their frailties, they are determined to be faithful to the Lord and speak the truth in court whatever the consequence or personal cost.
Although the freedom of religion is explicitly enshrined within the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Iranian government refuses to grant liberty to these women. In fact, the punishment for the 'crimes' they currently face include the death penalty. A bill to remove the death penalty for these crimes is currently pending before the Iranian Parliament.
For a more complete report on Iran's deprivation of religious freedom by the Jubilee Campaign, click here.
What Can you do for Maryam and Marzieh?
You can make a difference. You can pray. You can give. You can share their story.
You can free them.
Maryam and Marzieh's next court hearing has been set for April 13th, 2010 before the General Court in Tehran.
For the next three days leading up to their court hearing and thereafter until the verdict we request your prayers.
Please Pray for Maryam and Marzieh that:
· The peace of God will protect their hearts and minds and keep them safe.
· They will completely recover from their illnesses and be strong physically, mentally and spiritually.
· They will know the presence of God in the midst of their trial.
· They will be set free.
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AI is not a recipient of government funding and is solely dependent upon the financial contributions of those who believe in its mission, thereby enabling it to serve "clients" ranging from heads of state seeking to implement constitutional reforms to persecuted and imprisoned believers sentenced to death for their faith. We are most grateful and thank you for whatever financial support or voluntary service you can provide in support of AI's mission. Here's how you can help: (more)