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Mary Mohammadi given suspended prison sentence and lashes

(Forum 18) Twenty-one-year-old Iranian Christian convert Fatemeh (Mary) Mohammadi has been sentenced to three months plus one day in prison, and ten lashes.

The sentence relates to Mary’s alleged participation in anti-government demonstrations following the downing of a Ukrainian passenger plane in January.

The sentence is suspended for one year, and depends on her future conduct.

Mary has not appealed against the verdict, but commented:

“There was no evidence against me, so I ought to have been acquitted, but instead I was sentenced not only to imprisonment, but also flogging.

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“And it should be mentioned that even before the verdict was handed down, I and my family were forced to endure all kinds of torture, none of which was sanctioned by law, and which ought to be considered crimes in themselves. So even if I would have been acquitted, it wouldn’t have been a real acquittal!”

“We have refrained from appealing against the verdict because the appeal courts have turned into confirmation courts!”

During Mary’s court hearing last week, the judge questioned her about her religious views, even though the charges were unrelated to her faith.

He cited no evidence against her, saying that her presence in the area where the rally was taking place was evidence in itself.

Mary’s hearing had previously been scheduled for 2 March, but was postponed due to coronavirus.

After her hearing was rescheduled, Mary tweeted that it would be a “crime against humanity” to send anyone to prison under the current circumstances.

Background

Mary has already spent six months in prison as a result of her participation in house-churches, for which she was convicted of “action against national security” and “propaganda against the system”.

In July last year she faced fresh criminal charges relating to her “improper” wearing of hijab. Those charges, which were eventually quashed, were brought against her after she initially went to police to complain of an assault.

Then in December, Mary was kicked out of her Tehran university, without explanation, on the eve of her English-language exams.

Just a few weeks later, on 12 January 2020, Mary was arrested as protests took place in Azadi Square.

There was no word about Mary’s whereabouts for a month, before it was confirmed that she was being held in Qarchak women’s prison, south of the Iranian capital Tehran.

After her arrest, Mary was forced to sit in a yard, for hours, in extremely cold weather and opposite the toilets, and not given any food for 24 hours.

She was beaten so badly – by male and female officers – that the bruises were visible for three weeks.

Mary was also strip-searched twice by female officers, who told her that if she refused to remove her clothes, they would rip them from her.

Mary is a rare example of a Christian activist still living in Iran. She launched a campaign last year called “Kahma”, fighting for the rights of all Christians – whether from Christian homes, or Christian converts – to be given the right to attend church.

UPDATE on Anita

We had asked you to pray for Anita, a Christian convert who was charge with promoting the underground church in Iran. Her final hearing took place on April 15th. The Iranian court had recommended 6 years in prison, but we were encouraged that the judge, who is known to be harsh, had treated her kindly during the trial. see report After the hearing she was released to house arrest and told the judge would send his final verdict. Sadly, she received a verdict of 10 years in prison. Please pray for Anita and her attorney who will likely appeal the sentence.


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