Christian Artist Released after 136 Days in Iranian Prison


Date:  2012-10-14

By Jeremy Reynalds
Senior Correspondent for ASSIST News Service

IRAN (ANS) -- A Christian artist with an Islamic background, who had been transferred to the Central Prison of Mashhad immediately after his arrest, has been temporarily released.

Vahid Zarday

According to a story by Mohabat Christian News Agency, Vahid Zarday's release occurred on Oct. 9, after more than four months in prison.

The Christian convert spent 136 days in the notorious Vakil-Abad prison, where he was interrogated. According to the latest reports, he has been temporarily released and is now awaiting his trial.

Mohabat News said Zarday was arrested by security authorities on May 26 of this year, as he gathered with his wife and other Christian converts in a house church to study the Bible and pray. He was transferred to Vakil-Abad Prison immediately after his arrest.

Mohabat News said human rights activists say Vakil-Abad prison is described as "hell on earth." The prison is also reported to be "very crowded, hygiene is poor, inmates are humiliated and group executions are conducted."

Security authorities had also arrested Zarday in 2007, together with Christian friends, because of their faith.

Mohabat News said Zarday graduated in Music from Sooreh University in Tehran and is a Christian artist. In producing his material, he has collaborated with some famous Iranian artists in several domestic art festivals, including those for theatre, and has received awards as a music composer.

Problem in spreading the news; Christian families threatened

Mohabat News said as the Islamic Republic and the Iranian Ministry of Intelligence pressure families of prisoners not to release details of loved ones who have been incarcerated, there is no information available about Zarday's release, such as the circumstances under which he was released or how much bail was required.

Mohabat News said that scenario is common to many situations similar to Zarday's. Restrictions and the lack of a free flow of information result in many incidents being unreported.

However, Mohabat News said the organization is trying hard to find out where Christians' rights are being violated in Iran, and make its findings available to Christian and human rights groups.

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