Victims of Iran’s Article 500 Summoned to Serve Prison Sentences

11/16/2021 Iran (International Christian Concern) – In a two-day span, five Iranian Christian converts were summoned to begin serving prison sentences. On November 10, authorities summoned Milad Gourdazi, Amin Khaki and Alirez Nourmohammadi to serve three-year prison sentences each. On November 11, authorities summoned Habib Heydari and Sasan Khosravi to complete their one-year prison sentences.

One year prior to their summoning, intelligence agents raided the homes of Milad, Amin and Alirez, along with other converts, and confiscated personal belongings and Christian literature. Though no one was immediately arrested, the converts faced harassment. They were ultimately charged under the amended Penal Code Article 500 for “propaganda that educates in a deviant way contrary to the holy religion of Islam” and given the maximum sentence of five years, which was later reduced to three years. The three Iranian Christians were originally summoned in September but their prison time was postponed due to an additional hearing scheduled for December 16. Their presence is now not required at the hearing and authorities ordered them to begin their sentencing immediately.

Amin Khaki has spent several years in prison since his first stint from March 2014 to January 2015 when he gathered with other believers for a picnic. Khaki later served time from December 2017 to early 2018, only to be sentenced again in March 2019 for 14 months for “spreading propaganda”. He served this sentence from July 2019 to March 2020 when he was granted furlough that was later converted to full release. He now faces another three years in prison under similar charges.

The latter group summoned to prison, Habib and Sasan, are set to complete their one-year prison sentence. The pair were arrested on July 1, 2019 along with Sasan’s wife, Sasan’s brother and sister-in-law, Sasan’s mother, and three others. All except for Sasan’s elderly mother were convicted under Article 500 and given varying sentences in June 2020. Sasan, Habib and one other convert named Sam were sentenced to one year in prison, which was upheld following their appeal. Habib and Sasan began serving their sentence on February 8, 2021 but authorities released them home on furlough until last week. Now they have been called back to complete their sentencing, though they are both grateful for their extra time at home with family. Sasan also faces a two-year exile following his release.

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