Monday, 18 May 2009

CSW: Iran - Grave concerns over welfare of Christian women detained without charge

Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) is calling for the immediate release of two female Christian converts from Islam, who are being held without charge and who are reported to be in poor health.

Maryam Rostampour, 27, and Marzieh Amirizadeh, 30, are currently being held in Evin prison, where the Iranian-American journalist, Roxana Saberi is also being held. They share a cell with 27 other women.

The pair were arrested by Iranian security officers on 5 March after their apartment was searched and their bibles confiscated amongst other items. The women are known be practicing Christians.

Maryam and Marzieh were interrogated at the Police and Security Station 137 in Gysha before being taken to Vozara Detention Centre. They suffered sleep deprivation as part of their interrogration. On 18 March they were taken to branch two of the National Security Section of Iran’s Revolutionary Court, before being sent to Evin prison.

Neither have been charged with any crime defined under Iranian or international legislation, nor have they been permitted access to lawyers.

An initial bail request of $400,000 was retracted by the Iranian authorities after Maryam’s and Marzieh’s families appealed for their release.

CSW’s Advocacy Director Tina Lambert said: ”CSW is deeply concerned for the safety of all Iranians who leave Islam, as the number of arrests has increased significantly during 2008. These concerns are heightened by the fact that the Iranian parliament is currently debating a draft bill which could codify the death penalty for apostasy from Islam.

We are calling on the international community to urgently demand the release of Maryam and Marzieh. It is utterly deplorable that these women are being illegally detained for exercising their fundamental human right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion. Iran continues to remain an aggressive abuser of freedom of religion and belief while Iran’s President Ahmadinejad unashamedly condemns the international community’s approach to human rights.”

No comments: