The Christian charity Open Doors UK and Ireland and its partner organisation Article18 have jointly urged Iran not to imprison a 62-year-old man suffering from advanced Parkinson’s disease.
The appeal follows news that Homayoun Zhaveh, 62, has been told to expect a summons shortly to begin his two-year prison sentence.
Zhaveh’s “crime” is that he belongs to a banned Christian house-church.
Mansour Borji of Article18, an Iranian advocacy charity, said:
“To hand down a prison sentence to a man of Homayoun’s age, suffering with advanced Parkinson’s – and only because of his membership of a house-church – would be shocking were it not for Iran’s proven track record of systematically persecuting Persian-speaking Christians, regardless of their age, health, or any other reasonable considerations.
“We call on Iran to immediately reverse its decision, and to stop persecuting Christian converts like Homayoun and his wife Sara for the peaceful practice of their faith.”
Homayoun and his wife Sara Ahmadi, 42, were arrested by agents from Iran’s Ministry of Intelligence in June 2019 as they holidayed with several other Christian families in the city of Amol, near the Caspian Sea.
The other Christians were also questioned, but only Homayoun and Sara were detained.
Homayoun was released a month later, but Sara was held for a total of 67 days, including 33 days in solitary confinement during which time she was subjected to extreme psychological torture.
The couple were originally sentenced by Iran’s Revolutionary Court in Tehran in November.
Sara is also facing prison but for eight years for leadership of a house-church. The couple were sentenced in November 2020, though their case has not been made public until now.
Their appeals were rejected in December – though Sara’s 11-year sentence was reduced to eight years.
“My clients have always insisted that they haven’t engaged in any actions against national security,” the lawyer stated. “Nor do they harbour any animosity or hostility towards the government.”
Henrietta Blyth, CEO of Open Doors UK and Ireland, said:
“We are calling on the Government of Iran to overturn this decision to imprison Homayoun and his wife Sara.
“It’s shocking to see a man in such a vulnerable situation with his health being sent to prison.”