Christian prisoner in Iran sent back to prison during medical treatment, and whereabouts of 14 Iranian believers unknown after police arrests

A Christian Iranian woman who has been in prison for nearly three years was forced to return to prison in the middle of her medical treatment. The families of 14 other Iranian Christians are concerned about the safety of their loved ones after they were arrested.

Most of those arrested were previously members of a church in Tehran that was forced to close down in 2012 and to end services in Farsi (the language of Iran’s Muslim majority), according to a report by Christian Solidarity Worldwide on 9 November.

Iranian authorities conducted a raid on a house church in Varamin city, close to Tehran, arresting 13 believers. They arrested one more member (who was not present at the house church gathering) from his home in Tehran, on 2 November. The families of those arrested have been given no information as to the whereabouts of their loved ones since their arrests.

Christian prisoner Maryam Naghash Zargaran was given medical leave on 27 October, but had to halt her treatment when Tehran’s Attorney General refused to extend her leave permit, said Mohabat News.

The 36-year-old Christian convert from Islam was initially summoned for questioning on her house church involvement in February 2011. She was arrested in 2012 and accused of converting to Christianity, being an active member of a house church, establishing a house church to bring young people to faith in Christ, contacting foreign ministries to carry out evangelism in Iran, and travelling to Turkey to attend Christian conferences.

Sentenced to four years on 9 March 2013 for “gathering, collusion and action against national security”, Maryam Naghash Zargaran has completed a little over half of her sentence in Evin prison, Iran’s most notorious prison, in north-western Tehran.

Maryam Naghash Zargaran had heart surgery several years ago, but the difficult prison conditions have caused her health to deteriorate further. She had a heart attack while in prison and requires regular medical appointments.

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