Monday, June 4, 2012

An interview with Ali Golchin (Part 1)

Photo from FCNN
Ali Golchin is an Iranian Christian convert who was charged with evangelism and action against national security. He was arrested and jailed by the Islamic regime’s security authorities on April 29, 2010. In prison he faced long hours of interrogation by security officers and solitary confinement.

After his release in July 2010, security continued to watch him continuously, threatening and pressuring him. Like many other Iranian Christians, Ali decided to leave Iran. Mohabat News recently interviewed Ali and asked him about his time in prison as well as his current situation. Below is part 1 of the interview.

Mr. Golchin, what caused you to leave Iran?

It was about two years ago, on April 29, 2010, when I was arrested as a security suspect and transferred to prison. Although I was released later on bail, threats by security authorities did not end even after I was acquitted of all charges. It impacted my life severely and I was feeling that it could happen again at any time. I could not bear the situation any longer so I convinced my family and myself to leave the country. Actually the threats and the incidents that I predicted could happen at any time increased my desire to leave Iran.

After you were arrested, a court sentenced you to one year in prison. What allegation was made against you that resulted in such a verdict?

The accusations the judge charged me with the same day that I was arrested and before being transferred to Evin prison were actions against national security and Christian propagation through organized activities, evangelism and recruitment for Churches. The judge issued a warrant for my arrest based on these accusations.

Did they ever put you in solitary confinement during the time of your detainment? If so, how long were you there? What was your situation there?

Yes, they did. I was held in solitary confinement since the day I was arrested and transferred to prison. In fact, I spent all 87 days in solitary confinement. As you can tell from its name, solitary confinement is a small room. One and half meters wide, two and half meters long and at the most three meters high, I believe. Only one person is held there with no contact with the world outside or even with others in prison. It is a place to put the prisoner under severe mental pressure. We all know that man is a social creature and needs contact with others. He needs to speak with others. However, you are refused everything in there. In addition, you’re also physically pressured there. It is hot in summers and I am sure it will be as cold in winters. It has a steel door which is always closed. It is only opened when they want to feed you or take you for interrogation with your eyes blindfolded. That is a harsh place. I think putting someone in solitary confinement is the worst kind of torture possible to persecute someone.

It is said that you were arrested because of keeping Bibles. Is it a crime to own or carry a Bible in Iran?

I was accused of different things. One was keeping a Bible and the other was leading house churches in various cities including Tehran and other counties. Charging me with this, in fact, they said by doing this you are promoting Christianity among non-Christians. However, all our works and activities were dedicated to Christians, to lead and teach them. Also, according to the law, my lawyer told me, “Neither keeping a Bible, nor carrying it is a crime. And as a Christian, being in contact with other Christians as a teacher is not illegal!” However, I was charged with these things and arrested because of carrying Bibles as well as for leading house churches.

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