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Two Christian Prisoners Released From Tehran’s Notorious ‘Torture Factory’

Two Christian prisoners held in Tehran’s notorious Evin Prison—known as Iran’s “torture factory”—were released last week.  

Nasser Navard Gol-Tapeh, 61, was released on Oct. 17, and 51-year-old Fariba Dalir the following day.

Nasser was arrested in June 2016, along with three others, for “acting against national security” by belonging to a house church. He was sentenced to 10 years in Evin Prison, beginning in January 2018. 

During his nearly 2,000 days in prison, he filed several requests for a retrial or parole, and wrote numerous open letters querying how membership of a house church could be considered an “action against national security.”

“A year ago, his elderly mother made an emotional video plea for his release, saying she was afraid she would die without seeing her son,” said an article on Open Doors USA’s website. “Still, Nasser languished another 440 days until, in a surprise move … he was pardoned and released!” He immediately stunned his family with a phone call asking them to pick him up from prison. 

Fariba, a wife, mother and house church planter, was one of six Christian converts arrested in July 2021. She was charged with “acting against national security by establishing and leading an evangelical Christian church.” Her husband, Saroush, was also arrested and sentenced to 10 months in jail for membership in the church. Fariba spent more than 200 days in detainment, including over a month in solitary confinement. Her sentence began on April 16, Easter Sunday, of this year. 

“Upon her release, Fariba returned to her overjoyed husband, Saroush, and their daughter Arezoo,” Open Doors said. “Despite their happiness in being together, the three also realize that things are very dangerous still for those left behind in Evin.”

Fariba, Soroush and Arezoo, who is in her early 20s, were said to be ecstatic at their reunion, while also recognizing the increasingly difficult and dangerous predicament facing those who remain in the prison.

The two Christians’ release from Evin came days after chaotic scenes in the prison, as fire spread through ward 7, claiming the lives of at least four prisoners. 

Protests have raged across Iran for a month, after a young Kurdish woman, Mahsa Amini, 22, was arrested for wearing her head scarf “improperly” and died in police custody. The attack on the prison, a focus of outrage among civilian protesters, inadvertently put prisoners in danger.

None of the dozen Christian prisoners of conscience were hurt, but one family member told Article18: “It was a hellish night for us. We were completely in the dark about what was happening. Then, when we were finally able to speak [to our loved one], we heard the sound of shooting and then the phone was disconnected. We wept until the morning.”

Reacting to the news, Article18’s director, Mansour Borji, said: “While we celebrate the recent release of Nasser Navard Gol-Tapeh and Fariba Dalir, we remain deeply concerned for the health and security of all those who remain in Evin Prison.

Article18 knows of at least 10 such Christian prisoners of conscience still in Evin, and eight more in other prisons across the country, or in exile. The actual figure is likely to be higher, as not all cases are publicly reported. 

Borji added: “It is not difficult to assume that the recent releases may be an attempt by the Iranian government to deflect attention from the disturbing reports of the events at Evin on Saturday night, which claimed several lives. And while to date over 9,000 protesters are said to have been arrested and more than 800 detainees have been identified, Iran’s overcrowded prisons remain incredibly high risk places to be.”


HD Editor’s Note: Why Is This News Biblically Relevant?

Pastor Andrew Bruson who was imprisoned in Turkey for his Christian faith and released during the Trump Administration, in a recent article implored Believers, including those in the United States, to prepare for persecution. 

“Those who are faithful to Jesus in upholding Gospel exclusivity and obedience to Christ are going to be labeled as evil people, and those who persecute us will justify themselves by saying that we are a people of hate, that we carry a message of hate,” Brunson wrote. “This, of course, is completely backward. It’s a satanic lie. But think of Jesus. He was the most loving and kind man in history, and yet people called Him evil. They said He was demonic, and an angry mob demanded He be killed in a gruesome way. And Jesus said that just as the world hated Him, it will also hate His followers.”

“Christians are the most persecuted religious group in the world,” he described. “Why? It’s because when we walk closely with Jesus, we carry His scent, and people react to Him in us.”

“For now, we [in America] still have robust legal protections for freedom of religion, but as the commanding heights of our culture turn against our Judeo-Christian heritage, these protections can erode very quickly,” the pastor stressed. “And when we reach a tipping point, it will accelerate rapidly across a wide front.”

“The majority of believers are not ready for the pressures of persecution, and this is very dangerous,” Brunson underscored in his article series Prepare To Stand. “Learn from persecuted Christians, those who have gone before and endured faithfully. We have been conditioned not to expect persecution in this country, so we need to change our mindset.”

Click here To read part one and two of Andrew Brunson’s impactful Prepare To Stand series.

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Two Christian prisoners held in Tehran’s notorious Evin Prison—known as Iran’s “torture factory”—were released last week.  

Nasser Navard Gol-Tapeh, 61, was released on Oct. 17, and 51-year-old Fariba Dalir the following day.

Nasser was arrested in June 2016, along with three others, for “acting against national security” by belonging to a house church. He was sentenced to 10 years in Evin Prison, beginning in January 2018. 

During his nearly 2,000 days in prison, he filed several requests for a retrial or parole, and wrote numerous open letters querying how membership of a house church could be considered an “action against national security.”

“A year ago, his elderly mother made an emotional video plea for his release, saying she was afraid she would die without seeing her son,” said an article on Open Doors USA’s website. “Still, Nasser languished another 440 days until, in a surprise move … he was pardoned and released!” He immediately stunned his family with a phone call asking them to pick him up from prison. 

Fariba, a wife, mother and house church planter, was one of six Christian converts arrested in July 2021. She was charged with “acting against national security by establishing and leading an evangelical Christian church.” Her husband, Saroush, was also arrested and sentenced to 10 months in jail for membership in the church. Fariba spent more than 200 days in detainment, including over a month in solitary confinement. Her sentence began on April 16, Easter Sunday, of this year. 

“Upon her release, Fariba returned to her overjoyed husband, Saroush, and their daughter Arezoo,” Open Doors said. “Despite their happiness in being together, the three also realize that things are very dangerous still for those left behind in Evin.”

Fariba, Soroush and Arezoo, who is in her early 20s, were said to be ecstatic at their reunion, while also recognizing the increasingly difficult and dangerous predicament facing those who remain in the prison.

The two Christians’ release from Evin came days after chaotic scenes in the prison, as fire spread through ward 7, claiming the lives of at least four prisoners. 

Protests have raged across Iran for a month, after a young Kurdish woman, Mahsa Amini, 22, was arrested for wearing her head scarf “improperly” and died in police custody. The attack on the prison, a focus of outrage among civilian protesters, inadvertently put prisoners in danger.

None of the dozen Christian prisoners of conscience were hurt, but one family member told Article18: “It was a hellish night for us. We were completely in the dark about what was happening. Then, when we were finally able to speak [to our loved one], we heard the sound of shooting and then the phone was disconnected. We wept until the morning.”

Reacting to the news, Article18’s director, Mansour Borji, said: “While we celebrate the recent release of Nasser Navard Gol-Tapeh and Fariba Dalir, we remain deeply concerned for the health and security of all those who remain in Evin Prison.

Article18 knows of at least 10 such Christian prisoners of conscience still in Evin, and eight more in other prisons across the country, or in exile. The actual figure is likely to be higher, as not all cases are publicly reported. 

Borji added: “It is not difficult to assume that the recent releases may be an attempt by the Iranian government to deflect attention from the disturbing reports of the events at Evin on Saturday night, which claimed several lives. And while to date over 9,000 protesters are said to have been arrested and more than 800 detainees have been identified, Iran’s overcrowded prisons remain incredibly high risk places to be.”