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World News

Christian woman beaten in prison, facing criminal charges

by Tola Mbakwe

It's been revealed that an Iranian Christian woman who was reported missing is now in prison, being abused and facing crime charges. 

The Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA) has confirmed Fatemah Mohammadi, known as Mary, is in Qarchak Prison in Varamin and has been mistreated.

The 21-year-old was arrested last month in Iran near protests about the downing of a Ukrainian passenger plane. For several weeks, her whereabouts were unknown. 

Religious freedom charity Middle East Concern (MEC) said Mary was badly beaten when she was arrested.

The charity said in a statement: "At Vozara she was forced to sit on the ground in the yard in front of the toilets. Later she faced three interrogators and was given 30 questions to respond to. She refused to comply without a lawyer present. During the first 24 hours following arrest she was denied food.

"Female officials forced Mary to strip and sit and stand several times in front of them. She was later transferred to Branch 6 of the prosecutor's office in Evin Prison, Tehran, and charged with 'disrupting public order by participating in an illegal gathering'."

Although Mary's bail was set to the equivalent of £1,533, a prosecutor has refused to allow her to be released. Her case been moved to public criminal court. 

MEC said Mary is open about her Christian faith. She has been campaigning for rights for Christian converts in Iran and the freedom to attend Christian places of worship.

In November 2017 she was arrested at a house church and imprisoned for six months, having been convicted of "membership in evangelical groups", "engaging in Christian activities," and "acting against national security through propagating against the regime."

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