SHIRAZ, IRAN (ANS) -- Two Iranian Christian children, whose parents are being held in prison for their faith in Christ, are having to work to pay for their living expenses and then send half of their earnings for their parents in prison. The children are experiencing difficult days alone and apart from their parents and family.
According to the Iranian Christian news agency Mohabat News, Helma and Nima are the children of Fariba Nazemian and Homayoun Shokouhi, who converted to Christianity.
“Their parents were arrested months ago for their faith in Christ and are currently being held in prison. The two kids are left alone with nobody to take care of them and they must pay for their costs of living themselves,” Mohabat News says on its website.
The couple are being held in prison in Shiraz, located in Fars province, 934 km south of Tehran, the capital.
The news agency says that Helma, who is only 12 years old, is the only one who supports her 17-year-old brother, Nima. Nima was also present and arrested when his parents were arrested by security authorities in Shiraz on February 8, 2012.
Nima, together with two other Christian converts, was released on a 100-million Toman bail (approximately USD $80,000) after 36 days in custody and uncertainty, the news agency reported.
Mohabat News stated: “After the teenage boy was temporarily released from prison, he was not allowed to continue his schooling simply because he had been imprisoned. He is now suspended from high school and is denied the right to continue his education which plays a critical role in shaping his future.
“Before being arrested, he was in the third grade of high school, but now he has to work to be able to afford the high costs of living in Iran. This is while inflation in Iran is at an all-time high. Nima recently found a job in a shoe shop and works there to financially assist his persecuted family.”
The agency reports the prison expenses for his parents are also another burden on Nima's shoulders. He sends half of his income for them in prison.
In addition, the children's maternal family has rejected them because of their Christian faith. Also, their father's family is not living in Shiraz. So, Nima must take his sister to his workplace to care for her while he is working, Mohabat News said in its report.
Mohabat News stated: “The children's only help must come from other Christian converts in Shiraz and their close family friends. Other Christian converts and their family friends, who are also struggling with financial difficulties, sometimes take care of Helma or occasionally keep her in their own homes. However, Helma prefers to be with her brother.”
Fariba Nazemian, the children's mother, was denied having visitors in recent weeks and even the children were not allowed to visit their mother recently. This has severely weakened their spirit, especially Helma's, the agency reported.
According to reports from Iran, Mrs. Nazemian is being held in the women's ward of the prison, and her health condition is really poor. Moreover, she is being forced to work long hours in the sewing workshop of the prison.
Other reports state the ward is in a pitiful condition. Also, she is being held in the same cell as drug addicts and murderers. This has impacted her sense of security as a Christian in prison.
This situation is discouraging to this Christian couple, especially because of the youthful age of their children, the news agency said.
Mohabat News goes on to say that Mrs. Fariba Nazemian, her husband, Mr. Homayoun Shokouhi, and three other Christian converts (Mojtaba Hosseini, Mohammad-Reza Partoei (Koroush) and Vahid Hakkani), all residents of Shiraz, are still being held in Adel-Abad prison in Shiraz since their arrest on February 8, 2012.
It adds: “Although the five Christian converts have not been formally charged, some judicial authorities have said they will be charged with attending house church meetings, evangelizing, propagating against the Islamic regime, and disturbing national security.”
Michael Ireland is the senior international correspondent for ANS. He is an international British freelance journalist who was formerly a reporter with a London (United Kingdom) newspaper and has been a frequent contributor to UCB UK, a British Christian radio station. While in the UK, Michael traveled to Canada and the United States, Albania,Yugoslavia, Holland, Germany and Czechoslovakia. He has reported for ANS from Jamaica, Mexico, Nicaragua, Israel, Jordan, China and Russia.
c. 2012 ASSIST News Service. Used with permission.
Publication date: August 1, 2012