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ICC Note

This is one man’s recollection of a fellow prisoner in Iran who was a Christian – and how calm this man was amidst terrifying circumstances.

A Christian Martyr in Iran

Bahman Aghai Diba

Persian Journal (02/10/06)

To read the full story, click here: A Christian Martyr in Iran

The old man had a calm face. He kept smiling mildly and looked around with appreciation. I had not met him before and this was the first time (and the last time) that he was walking with “us”. I mean with our group of prisoners in the notorious Evin prison of Iran . It was one of good days that the prison administer had let our group to work as construction workers in a remote section of the prison. The old man that was walking with us that day was “Ke-shish (Christian Clergy ) Dibaji”.

He was a Christian priest and his crime was changing his religion from Islam to Christianity. Dibaji had not only changed his religion, but as a clergy, he had tried to invite others to his religion. He had worked in places like north and west of Iran and even he had made travels to Afghanistan for preaching.

He was not one of my cellmates, and I noticed him because he was walking as person who was very satisfied and content. He was telling things slowly to himself that I could not understand at first. Later I came to know that he was reciting Christian hymns in Farsi and English. I asked him “why are you so joyful?” He said I am praying to God that has made this beautiful day possible for me. Look around you isn’t it beautiful? The flowers, the sight of mountains and the huge trees are around us, and I am in the company of nice people. I am thankful to God.

Butcher of Evin

Of course, I did not care about his Christianity, as I did not care about my Islam. However, in the middle of terrible conditions that existed there, and our lives were under the control of the Assdollah Lajevardi, the Bucher of Evin and his blood thirsty assistant (Karbelai, the administrative head of Evin who was called “Pishva” like Fuehrer) it was interesting for me that a person can have such a spirit. I felt that his feelings were respectful and he was spreading a positive wave.

That day I had my only serious quarrel with another fellow prisoner. The fellow prisoner was pretending that he was very Islamic and this new guy (Dibaji) was Najes (religiously unclean). I knew the protesting prisoner very well. He was a person that his personal life was only the story of drinking alcoholic beverages, cheating his wife and so on. I was famous among the prisoners as a calm person, but that day I attacked the prisoner who pretended to be very Islamic and I told him that if he did not shut up, I would report all of his past actions to the prison authorities. He was so shocked from my reaction and we never talked with each other for several years.

Dibaji and I were both under heavy sentences and we waiting for a court that we knew it would not be fair. He was accused of “Ertedad”, or changing religion from Islam to something else. The sentence for such a “crime”, as far as men were concerned, was execution. As for the women, according to the religious rulings, the concerned female should be kept in prison and tortured five times a day, on the daily prayer times, until such time that she gives up her new religion and returns to Islam.

Dibaji was released from prison after a while, but it did not take much time that they found his body in the forests near Tehran . He was clearly tortured and murdered.

I think he was one of the first persons that were killed according to the program of the Serial Murders orchestrated by the Iranian intelligence officials.