A Christian woman started a prison sentence in Iran on 31 August for “propaganda” against the government after earlier refusing pressure from judges to renounce her faith.
Fatemeh Bakhteri was told she would serve one year in prison in September 2018 after her Christian activities led to her being convicted.
In an initial appeal hearing in January 2019, Fatemeh, also known as Ailar, was pressured by the two judges to renounce her faith, but she refused to do so. In May 2019, her appeal was then rejected. She was finally summoned to start her jail term at Evin Prison in Tehran on 31 August. The prison is notorious for prolonged interrogations and the abusive treatment of inmates.
Fatemeh was also banned for two years from engaging in any social activity with more than two people.
She had been appearing in court with a fellow Christian convert from Islam, Saheb Fadaie, who was convicted of “acting against national security” and sentenced to 18 months imprisonment and two years in exile in Hamedan, a city and province about 160 miles west of the capital Tehran. Saheb, who also refused to renounce his faith, is already serving a ten-year prison sentence for other Christian activities.
Another Iranian Christian woman, Roksari Kanbari, 65, was handed a one-year prison sentence on 29 July after being convicted two days earlier for “propaganda against the system”. Friends who witnessed proceedings said that the judge was rude and tried to humiliate Roksari, previously a Muslim, when she disagreed with him. Roksari had been forced to go to an Islamic religious leader to be “instructed” and “offered the opportunity to return to Islam” before she was sentenced. She will appeal, according to a Barnabas contact.
The appeals against prison sentences of three Assyrian Christians, Pastor Victor Bet Tamraz, his wife, Shamiram, and their son, Ramiel, imposed for “acting against national security” were postponed on 3 September after the judge failed to turn up.
Barnabas Fund, barnabasfund.org