Article18 reports that Fatemeh (or Mary as she likes to be called) Mohammadi is in Qarchak Prison, located in a desert south of Tehran. She has been able to call home a few times to reassure her family that she is okay.
A month ago on January 12, Mary was arrested, as protests took place in central Tehran’s Azadi Square following the Iranian government’s admission of guilt in the downing of a Ukrainian passenger plane.
Reportedly, her bail has been set at 30 million tomans (around $2,250). Her family has managed to put together the bail money, although the bail is equivalent to more than the annual salary for most Iranians.
Worst women’s prison in Iran
Mary is now one of 2,000 women prisoners in the overcrowded Qarchak Prison, where political prisoners are often held. Qarchak Prison is known for its horrid conditions. Last year, the Human Rights’ Activists News Agency (HRANA) published a detailed report about the prison saying it held the worst reputation among women’s prisons in Iran.
And only two months ago in December 2019, Qarchak was one of two Iranian prisons the U.S. sanctioned for “gross human rights violations,” including abuse, arbitrary beatings, little drinking water and “creating an environment for rape and murder.”
The U.S. also called for the immediate release of all protestors and political prisoners being held in Iran.
Even now, she may not be released.
During the time it took her family to raise the bail money. Mary’s case was transferred to a higher court, which will decide whether or not to grant her temporary release from prison.
Mary has been charged, though the charges against her are, as yet, unknown. She has been provided a lawyer, but not of her own choosing.
Her arrest and detention come at a time when raids and imprisonment of Christians in Iran are increasing; several high-profile cases of Christians are currently pending. Additionally, Mary’s case comes as Iran’s government holds celebrations to mark the 41st anniversary of the Islamic Revolution—slowing up the legal system. And with the Iranian New Year (Nowruz) only a month away, it’s unclear whether or not she will be released.
Since Mary’s arrest, international media outlets have called attention to her disappearance. During the 68th annual National Prayer Breakfast in Washington, D.C., this week, U.S. President Donald Trump spoke about her arrest.
“Weeks ago, a 21-year-old woman, who goes by the name of Mary, was seized and imprisoned in Iran because she converted to Christianity and shared the gospel with others,” Trump said.