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Witness Statement: Maryam and Her Son

A mom and her son explain the problems they face after converting from Islam to Christianity in exile.

 

Full Name: Maryam/Siavash (Pseudonyms)

Date of Birth: 1961/1992

Place of Birth: Sanandaj, Iran

Occupation: Home maker

Interviewing Organization: Iran Human Rights Documentation Center (IHRDC)

Date of Interview: April 12, 2010

 

This statement was prepared pursuant to an in-person interview with Maryam and her son Siavash on April 12, 2010. It consists of 22 paragraphs and 4 pages. The statement was approved on April 12, 2010.

 

Witness Statement

 

1. Maryam - My name is Maryam and I was born in 1961 in the city of Sanandaj. I have one son and two daughters. My son is 19 years old, my older daughter is 22 and my younger daughter is 16 years old. Because of the problems I faced in Iran – my husband’s political problems – I left Iran. My husband had problems with the Islamic Republic of Iran. In 2003, I converted to Christianity in Turkey. I have been living in Turkey for 11 years now. We have many problems in Turkey with immigration, the United Nations, and financial matters. My children are deprived of the right to education. My husband works 16 hours a day at the fruit section of the market starting at 8 in the morning. His wages are very low even though he is on his feet all day and suffers from rheumatism. In Turkey, we don’t have residence or work permits and my children don’t have the right to receive education or attend school.

2. Maryam - I converted to Christianity 7 years ago. In 2007, my children and I were interviewed several times by the satellite channel “Kalameh” about our conversion to Christianity. Our problems still exist, even after we converted to Christianity. Satan always survives.

3. Maryam - We first settled in Kastamonu, which is a conservative city. They wrote “dirty Iranians, leave this place” across our doorstep and we left that city. When kids around my son’s age found out that he has converted to Christianity, they broke his front teeth with brass knuckles. We are all depressed but it’s not possible to live with depression. I will definitely be in trouble if I return to Iran. After we spoke on the satellite channel, my brother-in-law, who had seen the program, started to threaten us. I don’t know where he is now.

4. Siavash - My father’s relatives had seen the program on the satellite channel. First they recognized my sister. Then they saw my mother and me and threatened us by saying that, if we return to Iran, bad things will happen to us. My uncle is in Iran and has many ties to the Intelligence Ministry. Depending on his goal, he can either help people or do so that they aren’t able to return. He has not spoken to us for two and a half or three years now. I don’t remember what time our last conversation was exactly but it was around the time our interviews were aired.

5. Maryam - He called constantly to say that, if you return, bad things will happen to you. He called us infidels, and told my husband that it is my fault that he converted to Christianity. He called regularly, sometimes even several times a day. He listed all the calamities that would happen to us if we returned. My husband’s cousin also called us. He told us not to return because he had witnessed my brother-in-law giving our names to the Intelligence Ministry. My brother-inlaw work in the education field.

6. Siavash - My father changed his telephone number after a year because my uncle called from different numbers. We didn’t know which call was coming from him so we couldn’t screen it. My father’s cousin was very good friends with my father and liked us very much. He even told us not to stay in Turkey and move somewhere else because our uncle will continue to harass us. My uncle didn’t directly threaten us, but indirectly he said that bad things will happen to us. My father’s cousin said that if we return, we would be arrested at the border because our names had been given to the Intelligence Ministry.

7. Maryam - My life and my children’s lives are ruined. Everything is in shambles. I don’t have a job right now. We have many problems. We have not received a response from the United Nations. Everybody said that the United Nations will give you residence permits but it didn’t and our case was closed. My relatives live in Iran. I don’t talk to them because I am afraid.

8. Siavash - Whenever our relatives call, they speak in a secret code, as if their telephone lines are tapped. Not all of our relatives know that we have converted to Christianity. We are illegal immigrants here. When we see the police, we run away like thieves. The United Nations and similar organizations have not helped us in any way. We don’t have any paperwork to live on legally. We’re in limbo, like a piece of wood that doesn’t know if it’s going to float on the water or sink!

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