Iran is not the best place to be in the world if you are a Christian and would like to practice your faith freely without fear of persecution or being despised, but then again, the pain of persecution has kept the church growing since its very beginning. Maryam Zargaran, a Christian prisoner in Iran, has been denied a temporary release from behind bars to seek for medical attention after having spent the last three weeks in a hunger strike. Her condition certainly merits urgent medical attention, and we can only pray that the authorities will have the heart to release her.
According to reports that trickled in earlier this week, the Iranian Ministry of Intelligence has remained deaf to appeals to grant Zargaran's release, even when she has already started to show signs of multiple sclerosis developing in her body. This is the second time that Zargaran has embarked on a hunger strike, beginning from July 5th this year as part of a protest against the treatment she has received while she was in prison. Word has it that Zargaran is extremely weak from hunger, and her long-term heart condition continues to grow to be a health risk with each passing moment that she fails to receive the proper medical care.
Not too long ago, family members of Zargaran were allowed to pay her a visit, and despite their pleas, she steadfastly refused to receive treatment at the prison clinic amidst allegations that the prison staff mistreat her as opposed to providing the proper care and rehabilitation. If those allegations were to be true, it would not be surprising at all.
Zargaran has been incarcerated in the Evin Prison's Women's Ward since July 15, 2013, simply for assisting American Pastor Saeed Abedini. Pastor Saeed Abedini himself has spent some time behind the slammer -- three and a half years to be exact, before he was granted release and made his way back to the US.
Pastor Saeed Abedini is a strong vocal opponent against the persecution of Christians in Iran, and has also voiced out objections against the treatment that Zargaran has received while she is behind bars. He even mentioned on his Facebook not too long ago, "Today is day 20 of Nasim hunger strike and NO [response] from anyone."
Neither is he too pleased that some women's rights activists have not campaigned for her release. While some folks do make plenty of noise when it comes to women's rights and issues of abuse, they have decided not to touch Zargaran’s case with a 10-foot pole, perhaps for the potential backlash that they themselves might experience for “supporting” a Christian who has been wrongfully put behind bars.
Prison physicians have already taken a look at Zargaran's condition, and they have also confirmed in a report that she currently suffers from heart disease, and is in the start of MS (multiple sclerosis). To make matters worse, Zargaran is reportedly suffering from other ailments such as severe anemia, diabetes and high blood cholesterol.
Zargaran’s very own mother has pleaded with Iranian authorities in order to have her daughter’s release, but that has not proven successful even though she continues to speak to the relevant officials every single day. We can only continue to pray for Zargaran's release and eventual recovery from her ordeal in the mean time.