A Christian couple faces detention in Iran
When authorities in Iran summoned a Christian couple in Tehran on Aug. 13, the house-church members supposed it concerned the return of their confiscated belongings.
Instead, Homayoun Zhaveh and his wife, Sara Ahmadi, were detained in Tehran’s Evin Prison, notorious for its harsh treatment of people deemed political enemies of the state, rights organizations say.
“Friends are concerned about their well-being, especially as Homayoun suffers from advanced Parkinson’s disease,” Christian Solidarity International (CSI) said in an Oct. 6 statement, citing information from Middle East Concern.
CSI and other advocacy and aid organizations recently issued calls for prayer for Zhaveh, 63, and Ahmadi, 44. Middle East Concern (MEC) reported they were first arrested in June 2019 on suspicion of belonging to an “illegal organization,” with Zhaveh spending a month in Evin Prison and Ahmadi held there for 67 days — half the time in solitary confinement.
In November 2020, Ahmadi was sentenced to 11 years in prison for her alleged role in leading a house church, according to MEC, adding that Zhaveh was sentenced to two years for house church membership. The sentences included a two-year ban on membership in any social or political group, a two-year ban on foreign travel and six months of community service.
The convictions were upheld on appeal in December 2020, but Ahmadi’s prison sentence was reduced to eight years, MEC reported. The couple expected to start their prison sentences on June 15, 2021, but upon arrival at Evin Prison in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, they were told they could return home for an indeterminate time.