Courage under Fire – Help Save Maryam and Marzieh
Dear Friends and Partners,
Two Iranian Christian women have exhibited remarkable strength and courage in the face of terrible injustice and human rights abuse. Maryam Rustampoor, 27, and Marzieh Amirizadeh, 30, are two converts from Islam who have been in prison since they were arrested on March 5, 2009 and charged with “acting against state security” and “taking part in illegal gatherings”. They have been held in Evin prison (the same prison where Canadian citizen and photojournalist Zahra Kazemi was beaten to death during interrogation in 2003).
During a court hearing on August 9, 2009, the two women were pressured by the prosecutor to renounce their Christian faith which they categorically refused to do. In the course of the hearing, the women reportedly indicated that they had become Christians as a result of being convicted by the Holy Spirit. In response, the prosecutor stated, “It is impossible for God to speak with humans”, to which Marzieh responded, “Are you questioning whether God is Almighty?” When the prosecutor replied, “You are not worthy for God to speak to you”, Marzieh responded by stating, “It is God, and not you, who determines if I am worthy.”
After the hearing the two women were sent back to Evin prison and told to return when they were ready to comply with the court’s demands. There have been no further developments in this matter but the women are known to be suffering numerous health problems and have reportedly not been provided medical treatment. Torture and extrajudicial killings are common in Iran and, while the government recently decided not to pass a threatened apostasy law, concerns for Maryam and Marzieh are that they will either be held in prison indefinitely until they recant or they will be killed.
Maryam and Marzieh are just two of many Christians who are in prison in Iran, a theocracy run by Shi’a Muslim clerics. Converts in particular are often targeted and interrogated using torture to extract information about other converts and house churches. Moreover, in the wake of unrest over presidential election results this summer, Iranian authorities have arrested dozens of minority believers, mostly Christians and Bahá’í’s, many of whom remain unaccounted for. General news reports about arrests related to the unrest have highlighted allegations of rape and torture of detainees and numerous executions have taken place in the purge of opposition forces. In the midst of this growing repression, Maryam and Marzieh need our prayers and our intervention.
• for Maryam and Marzieh’s health and safety and their quick release. Pray that they would be encouraged in their faith and have the strength to overcome this ordeal and stay true to their faith;
• for the numerous others in prison for their faith in Iran, that they would be protected from harm and be released and able to seek and worship God freely;
• that the prosecutor and judge handling the case would be impacted by the strength, courage, faith, and love shown by these two women and that they would drop all charges and release them without delay;
• that Iranian authorities would stop targeting minority religious communities and focus on governing their people with fairness and justice for the benefit of the entire country; and,
• for the Iranian people, that they would be able to live and worship freely and that they would find true peace and freedom in the Prince of Peace.
The Bible teaches that faith without action is dead, so please take action urgently and write (contact details are included below):
• the representative of Iran in your country, demanding that Maryam and Marzieh be provided medical attention and that they be released immediately along with all others who are imprisoned for their faith in Iran, and further demanding that Iranian authorities respect international human rights standards with respect to religious freedom and their own constitution (specifically Articles 13 and 23 regarding recognition of Christianity, Judaism, and Zoroastrianism and the privacy of individual beliefs, respectively); assure them that an Iran where all Iranians, regardless of their beliefs, would be able to live, work, and worship in freedom will be a strong and prosperous Iran; and,
• to the Minister for Foreign Affairs or Secretary of State in your country, insisting that they use every means at their disposal to ensure the freedom of Maryam and Marzieh and urging them to make treatment of religious minorities in Iran a primary focus of foreign policy in the region.
Please remember to send us a copy of your correspondence at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Remember, that the persecuted Christians are dying every day, but they are still smiling. They are in a very deep dark night, but they have the candle of the Lord. The enemy can have a very strong weapon and a very strong army, but we have the Lord Almighty.
“They can kill the dreamer, but they cannot kill the dream” in the Lord’s name.
Be with God and may God be with you.
Rev. Majed El Shafie
President and Founder
One Free World International
El Shafie Ministries
His Excellency Mian Gul Akbar Zeb
High Commissioner of Pakistan to Canada
10 Range Road
Ottawa, ON K1N 8J3
Tel. (613) 238-7881; Fax: (613) 238-7296
The Honourable Lawrence Cannon
Minister for Foreign Affairs
Foreign Affairs Canada
125 Sussex Drive
Ottawa, ON K1A 0G2
Tel.: (613) 992-5516; Fax: (613) 992-6802
In The United States:
Interests Section of the Islamic Republic of Iran
Embassy of Pakistan
2209 Wisconsin Avenue, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20007
Tel.: (202) 965-4990; Fax: (202) 965-1073
Secretary Hillary Clinton
U.S. Department of State
2201 C Street NW
Washington, DC 20520
Tel.: (202) 647-4000 (Main switchboard)