Christian couple in Iran face imprisonment for membership of house church

23 March 2021

A Christian couple in Iran look set to be imprisoned for their membership of a house church in the capital city Tehran.

Homayoun Zhaveh, 62, and his wife Sara Ahmadi, 42, were arrested in June 2019 while on holiday with other Christians in Amol, Mazandaran Province.

Homayoun Zhaveh, 62, and his wife Sara Ahmadi, 42, have been told they will soon have to begin prison sentences of two and eight years respectively [Image credit: Article 18]

In November 2020 Homayoun, who suffers from Parkinson’s disease, was sentenced to two years’ imprisonment and Sara to eleven years. An appeal the following month was dismissed, though Sara’s sentence was reduced to eight years.

They were also sentenced to six months’ community service, and barred from foreign travel or membership of any social or political group for two years after the release from prison.

The couple were told on Sunday 14 March that they should now expect a summons to begin their prison sentences.

A lawyer acting on behalf of Homayoun and Sara argued that the couple “haven’t engaged in any actions against national security, nor do they harbour any animosity or hostility towards the government,” and that it was unclear how membership of a house church constituted association with an “illegal organisation”.

When they were first arrested the couple were held at Evin Prison in Tehran, a prison notorious for prolonged interrogations and the abusive treatment of inmates. Homayoun was released after a month but Sara was held for 67 days, including 33 days in solitary confinement.

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