On 4 March Milad Goodarzi was released from Karaj Central Prison. He is the seventh Christian convert known to have benefited from the general amnesty granted to prisoners for the 44th anniversary of the Islamic Revolution.
In June 2021, Milad and two other converts were each sentenced to five years in prison plus a 40 million toman fine (then about US$1,600) under the newly amended Article 500 for “engaging in propaganda against the Islamic regime.”
The three men were prosecuted after intelligence agents conducted coordinated raids on 12 homes of Christian converts in Fardis and Karaj on 11 November 2020. No-one was arrested at the time, but Bibles, cell phones and computers were confiscated. Seventeen other converts endured harassment, summons for questioning, and threats.
An appeal in August 2021 upheld the convictions but reduced the prison sentences to three years each and removed the fine. Milad and the others were summoned to Karaj Central Prison in November 2021.
Iranian Christians are thankful for Milad’s release, as well as for the other converts included in the amnesty, but affirm that a pardon is not an acquittal and does not address the injustices of the prison sentences and the resultant suffering of the victims and their families.
- for Milad and his family and that more Christian prisoners will be eligible for release
- that the Iranian authorities will stop pursuing Christians and members of other religious communities.