Mar 2015

Flames of Fire in the Classroom

Three years ago in December of 2011, a classroom at a primary school in Shin Abad- a village in Azarbayjane Gharbi- went on fire. Although that village was equipped with gas, but for warming the class they were still using old heaters which work with oil. The reason of this fire was the leaking of oil from the tank of the old heater. As one of the students said, when the children saw the flames of fire, their teacher tried to put out the fire using a fire extinguisher but it was empty! They asked the janitor to help them but meanwhile the whole class went on fire. The classroom’s windows were surrounded by metal fenders so the students couldn’t escape through the windows. He said that he didn’t know who broke the windows down and he didn’t remember the rest of it (according to a valid news website).

The students’ condition wasn’t good and all of their hands and faces were burnt. They were transferred to the hospital and some authorities like the governor and the education manager and the students’ parents went to the hospital as well. As their parents were crying and worried about their children’s condition, they asked questions from the authorities about the reason of using oil heaters in the region in which the gas is available. And why the school wasn’t equipped with fire fighting facilities. But the authorities didn’t admit their responsibilities and blamed each other for this disaster!

As the result of this fire, two students died and twenty-eight others were badly injured. But the girls who survived, are still facing many serious problems after three years have passed. They had to travel to Tehran for medical treatments and lots of surgeries needed to be done in order to get a little better.

In those days the parliament members and the authorities promised them many things; for instance paying the hospital costs, the surgeries and sending them abroad for getting beauty surgeries. Some of their promises were done by delay but sending them abroad was cancelled and they were transferred to government hospitals from private hospitals. Their parents also had to quit their jobs in order to take care of their sick children.

Today three years have passed from that disaster but it’s again back on the media and different groups are talking about it. In a report the victims and their parents talk about what happened to them during these three years. One of those students said: “When I go out of the house, my friends and the other children hide themselves from me, because they’re afraid of me.” One of the students’ father said during his daughter’s treatments he lost his job and because he didn’t have any other incomes, he had to sell a piece of land he’s owned.

This case of fire was analyzed at Azarbayjan judiciary and nobody or no organization was found guilty. Ahmadinejad went and Rohani became the president and in this transition the situation of the students got worse than before. The blood money that the students were supposed to receive was reduced to half because they were females. Although they lost their physical and spiritual health, but resisted and with the help of some local correspondents and social activists they took a lawyer and protested several times in front of the ministry of education and by doing this they could be heard by the authorities and they made them pay their total blood money.

They could get what they wanted, but using the oil heaters in many villages in Iran is the concern of the people.

We pray for them, our father, we bring these children who were in pain and suffering in these years to your presence and we ask you to relieve their pains with your kindness and grace as a father and help them and their families. Lord, we pray for the other students to be protected by you.

In the name of Christ, Amen.

Sexual Assault against Iranian Women

According to Wikipedia, sexual assault means having sex without the other person's permission. Now the official definition of sexual assault based on a website by Islamic Republic: "If someone is forced to have sex or another sexual harassment which would be comparable to sex by hitting or violence or other person's threaten, is called rape or sexual assault and the criminal would be imprisoned for at least two years or it would be death penalty.

In Iran just like the other countries in the world, despite the dominance of Islamic rules in the society, the women are exposed to the danger of rape. In most of the cases the victims hide the bitter event from the police and their family because of the fear which is rooted in the Iranian culture. One of the reasons for this hiding is because their families, the society and the law don't support them. In some cases when the victim goes to the police station and although her complaint is sent to the court, but most of the time specially when the rapist is unidentified, they tell the victim :"you must be thankful that you're alive." But of course there are much more reasons for not revealing the event, and based on those reasons there aren't any precise statistics of the sexual assaults against women in Iran.

One of the cases which has been a hot topic for the media is about a girl named Reyhaneh Jabbari who was about to get raped by her employer, a 54 year old doctor. She was 19 years old and as a defence she attacked him but he died and a manslaughter happened. Although there were lots of documents and objections inside and outside of Iran and Reyhaneh's reaction was a self-defence but she was convicted to death penalty. A few months ago, after seven years behind the bars and because of not forgiven by the victim's family, she got executed.

These days a strange event happened in Iran. In one of the cities in Iran, Ilam, a man raped a woman. But there isn't much said about the woman but the rapist, Nemat Latifi, a married man who had a daughter who is five years old now. After the woman complained against him the judge convicted him to death after spending 15 years in the prison. After 5 years, the criminal objected against the conviction again and the court accepted his objection and after reconsidering the case, Nemat Latifi was released by a two hundred million Tooman bail.

There is a voice report of Nemat Latifi's cousin on the internet which was recorded by a freelance reporter outside of Iran. That report is as follow: "on Bahman 8th, January 28th 2015, Nemat Latifi headed to the court in order to reveal something about the woman. There was a big crowd in front of the court for a few minutes. Actually, the woman's father, sons, brothers and cousins attacked Nemat Latifi, the criminal, and after stabbing him by knives and swords, beheaded him." He was present in that murder scene and claims although the police was there but did nothing to stop the violence of the complainants of the case, they even didn’t use tear gas for dispersing them. Eventually some of them were arrested by the police.

In some cities of Iran just like the other countries, there is tribal life. The tribes live according to their own rules and believes. Based on this fact, some belive that the complainants of that case because of their lifestyle and tribal life decided to execute the criminal themselves. Others think that because of the corruption of the justice system in Iran and because the people don't trust the judges and their convictions, the complainant's family decided to do such actions. There are also some other opinions which can be analyzed.

While I was talking to some Christian friends about this event, we all agreed that we can't judge any of those people because it's not our duty and we were never in their shoes and practically we don't know how we would react if we were in their position. But we all believed that in this world of sin and injustice, our living God is in control and nothing can be hidden from His sight.

Farzaneh

My name is Farzaneh. I am 31 years old and I believed in Christ about ten years ago. Today I want to talk to you about something that annoyed me too much yesterday.

Now that I'm talking to you, I am a member of a house church. Our group members are mostly young and all members are very intimate and close together. The shepherd of our group is a single young man called Pedram. Some time ago, he was engaged with a believer girl called Maryam and they were going to get married soon.

Maryam and I were very close together and since I had also recently got engaged we talked about our relationship too much. She was very happy that she had become familiar with Pedram and could continue to serve with him. Meanwhile, Maryam herself was responsible for several groups and taught them and also helped Pedram in his ministry.

Last week when we had meeting, all members attended in the meeting. When I spoke with Maryam before the meeting, I felt that she was upset. During the meeting house, the door bell rang and Pedram were wondered because all members attended. When he answered the entry phone, apparently he was a man who sought downstairs neighbor and Pedram told him that rang the below bell. After less than two minutes, and the house bell rang again and he was that man and Pedram angrily told him not to ring the doorbell of his house. At that moment I saw the fear in the face of Sara and Pedram and I realized that my feeling was totally right.

After the meeting, Maryam asked members to pray for the members of the some members of house churches who were arrested. A feeling said me that it is not irrelevant to her discomfort. After prayer, I talked to Maryam a little, but she and Pedram were not as always.

Yesterday, my computer stopped working and I wanted Pedram to come to our house and fix its problem. When I saw Pedram, I realized that she was very upset and when I asked about Maryam, he told me that she left Iran!

I was so shocked and I did not know really what to say! After a bit of silence, I asked him the reason of her going and he told me after arresting one of the groups that Maryam was responsible for them and taught them, her name was given to the police officers and she was forced to leave the country very soon! He said he could not marry her because he is now unable to leave Iran!

I was extremely upset when I heard these words! For a moment I put myself in her place! How difficult was that I was separated from my fiancé because I was very dependent on him! Yet, I had become familiar with my fiancée about two months but Maryam and Pedram were engaged more than one year and they were going to marry in less than three months! Their situation was too worse! The only things I ask God for them are comfort and patience!

Mahsa

Hello. My name is Mahsa and I am 39 years old. 8 years ago in Iran I went to a house meeting by one of my friend and after a short time I believed in Jesus. At the time, I was a law student and I wish to be a really good lawyer.

After a few months of my faith, I went to a building church with my friend and after that I attended in the building church meetings every week and I loved it. Also, once a week, we had the house meeting with some church believers.

Always, my friends in the church told us to be careful for new people entering the church because all persons were not reliable and always warned us not to communicate with anyone and not to give information about ourselves to others. But the fact is that I did not pay attention to the words at all and almost everyone knew everything about me such as place of residence, field of study and so on.

After about one year, one of the persons who were in our church and in our house arrested by police officers and then a few others. That’s why we stopped the house meetings and just went to the building church. After a while, two persons of those arrested were released and as they said, the names of all members and their information had been given to the officers.

I did not think that this would be very problematic for me because I told myself that I have not done anything wrong and I was unaware that this problem will disrupt my future life and career.

After one year of this event, I have finished my study and I got the bachelor’s degree in the law field and I began to search for finding a good job in the courts or government agencies. To be accepted for these works, I should take an examination and I passed it well. When I got to the interview, the interviewer was a mullah. He asked me a few questions and then told me that I could never work in any organization because my name was in the Ministry of Information and I was barred from working!

When I came out, I had the worst feeling in the world! I felt that all my desires went with the wind and I began to cry! I had this feeling for a long time and went elsewhere to find work but it was useless!

After two years I decided to study again and get a degree to establish my own private lawyer’s office. Its exam was very hard and anyone was hardly accepted. I studied night and day for a year and I could pass it. I was very happy that I can reach my desires. But in the last step that I wanted to get permission to establish my office, I was told that I could not get permission because I was a Christian and a lawyer should adhere to Islamic principles!

Now I am speaking with you, it is a short time that I have left Iran and I miss my family! I did not like to leave my country because I love it but alas, in Iran it was impossible for me to work and reach my desires!