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Iranian Christian Prisoner Maryam Naghash Zargaran Continues Hunger Strike in Effort to Receive Medical Treatment

( [email protected] ) Jul 15, 2016 10:28 AM EDT
Maryam Naghash Zargaran, an Iranian woman who is currently serving a four-year prison sentence for practicing her Christian faith, is on an indefinite hunger strike until her demand for early conditional release for medical treatment is met
Ailing Maryam Naghash Zargaran was taken to the hospital in Tehran on the second day of her hunger strike, but was later returned to her prison without having treated Facebook/Saeed Abedini

Maryam Naghash Zargaran, an Iranian woman who is currently serving a four-year prison sentence for practicing her Christian faith, is on an indefinite hunger strike until her demand for early conditional release for medical treatment is met.

According to Mohabat News, Zargaran's family confirmed news of her hunger strike, which began on July 5th, revealing that she seeks an "immediate and unconditional release."

"I'm really worried for her. It has been seven days since she started her hunger strike," her mother, Zahra Pour-Nouhi Langroudi, told the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran.

"She said this time she won't stop until the authorities pay attention to her demand. She also said she will not accept medical treatment at the prison clinic because the last time she was there the physician, a man named Mr. Mokhtarnejad, insulted her and called her a liar."

"I demand my daughter's unconditional freedom. I have been going to the offices of the prosecutor and the Supreme Court every day, but no one gives me a straight answer. They are indifferent. I don't know what else to do for my child's freedom," she said.

As earlier reported, Zargaran, 36, has remained inside Evin Prison's Women's Ward since July 15, 2013 because she assisted Saeed Abedini, an American pastor who was held hostage for three and-a-half years in prison in Iran before finally being released in January.

The young woman needs regular treatment for a number of issues following heart surgery nine years ago, and was twice granted temporary leave to receive specialized medical treatment.

"Maryam is suffering from heart and hearing problems and has arthritis in her neck and hand," her mother said. "She had heart disease before her arrest, but all her other illnesses resulted from her time in prison. She underwent heart surgery in 2015 and the doctors said she must avoid stressful conditions, which is impossible in prison."

Zargaran held an 11-day hunger strike back in June in protest against prison officials, after which she was allowed to go on a medical leave for treatment. However, before she could finish her treatment, she was taken back to prison. Iranian authorities also refused to allow her to undergo five days of physiotherapy despite a prescription from one of the physicians in prison.

Meanwhile, Pastor Saeed Abedini has advocated for Zargaran's release and urged believers worldwide to pray for the Christian prisoner.

"So many people (who fought for me) left us in this battle with Nasim alone and never mention her name," Abedini wrote on Facebook in June. "What they do is shameful but Praise Lord who He is always in control."