07/28/2022 Washington D.C. (International Christian Concern) – It takes up a strip of land in the Evin neighborhood of Tehran, Iran. But the real estate and walls that serve as Evin Prison symbolize the evil, torture, and broken lives of so many Christians. Its chains have shackled religious freedom for decades.
Iranian Christians face a cascade of everyday threats and struggles for simply expressing their faith publicly. It is inside Evin’s walls, however, where the real damage occurs. Widely referred to as a ‘torture factory’ and ‘Hell on Earth,’ Evin Prison swallows roughly 60% of Christians arrested in Iran (when the prison location is known).
Rather than house the scoundrels and dregs of society, Evin Prison—influenced by the Intelligence Ministry—also serves as punishment for anyone deemed a threat to national security and the Islamic regime: Christians, politicians, journalists, intellectuals, and artists. Or, more specifically, anyone who is a threat to Ali Khamenei, 83, the supreme leader of Iran who squashes any faith or dissent outside of the “Islamic” Republic of Iran.
Many cases have attracted worldwide attention. ICC closely monitored and chronicled the arrest, imprisonment, and eventual release of Christians Maryam Rustampoor and Marzieh Amirizadeh Esmaeilabad. Maryam and Marzieh were charged with anti-government activities, but it became clear that apostasy (conversion from Islam to Christianity) was the reason for the arrest.
After eight months of abuse at the hands of Iranian security officials, at their release—in part because of international pressure and prayer—the two women said, “Words are not enough to express our gratitude to the Lord and to His people who have prayed and worked for our release.”
Iranian-Armenian Christian Anooshavan Avedian was sentenced to 10 years in prison solely for teaching Christianity – his June 2022 appeal was unsuccessful. The notorious appeal court judge in charge of his case referred to Avedian’s activities as “propaganda contrary to and disturbing to the holy religion of Islam.”
Former prisoners have reported that guards commonly use torture to elicit confessions of church activities, sometimes even covering up deaths from torture as suicides.
Leaked security camera footage a year ago from a hacker group depicted what ICC and many have believed to be happening in prison for years: flagrant abuses of human rights, including degrading living conditions and beatings of prisoners. The footage from inside the prison provided more evidence than ever regarding crimes committed within the Iranian justice system.
Prisoners incarcerated in Evin live in dismal conditions. Wards are overcrowded and lack necessities. Inmates have reported more than 70 types of torture, according to a report published by the United Kingdom. For those whose health deteriorates, medical abuse runs rampant.
Christian convert Amin Naderi was brutally interrogated and refused medical treatment during a lengthy stay at Evin that included hunger strikes and international pressure. Amin later fled Iran after his release.
ICC has for years worked behind the scenes with the U.S. government to target Iranian agents of persecution like judges and prison wardens. Several have quickly retired or moved from their positions after we exposed them. We will continue to lose the bonds of wickedness and work to let the oppressed go free! (Isaiah 58:6-10). For those inside and outside of Evin prison.
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