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Witness Statement: Maryam and Her Son

9. Maryam - Among my relatives, two of my sisters know that I have converted to Christianity but not everyone else. They may run into trouble if they find out. My sisters’ reaction to the news was also unpredictable. It would be bad for some of my sisters if their husbands find out because they are like my brother-in-law.

10. Siavash - It is very hard for our relatives to digest that someone who was a Muslim has changed his religion to become a Christian. But they didn’t react the way my uncle did. My uncle was opposed to my mother and father’s marriage. That’s why he doesn’t keep in touch with my mother’s family. Therefore, even though he has told everybody about our conversion to Christianity, my mother’s relatives don’t know. I remember that one year he came to our house during Norooz and my father wasn’t home. We didn’t let him in. He broke the door, came inside and beat my mother. He beat me too because I was standing up to him.

11. Maryam - I have forgiven him because I have faith now.

12. Siavash - My father changed his telephone number. If he hadn’t, maybe by now all of our relatives would be threatening us, because they are all like my uncle. During that year when my uncle was threatening us, only my father’s cousin, who was friends with him, called us to tell us what was happening. He said that they were talking about and insulting us a lot behind our backs. They didn’t like my mother from the beginning anyway, but their hatred multiplied when they heard the news. We have many emotional problems. My father has a job, but we cannot attend school because we don’t have a work or a residence permit. I wanted to work at a liquor store because I saw a hiring sign but the storeowner said that I had to bring him a work permit from the security office!

13. Maryam - I was working at a restaurant until I cut myself with a butcher’s knife. I received five stitches and now one of my fingers is numb. My husband works in another city. His salary is 450 YTL ($288.00) a month. We live in Ankara to be close to the United Nations.

14. Siavash - Members of the community found out that we were Iranians and Christians. One time, I went to pick up my sister from a play. The people who beat me up had harassed me a few times before. First they insulted me but I kept on walking. My sister and I were walking when they hit me from behind with brass knuckles. I was unconscious for a few minutes and my tooth broke.

15. Siavash - We go to church here. My older sister volunteers at the church. She plays the guitar and is in the church choir. The government doesn’t bother or harass us for going to church, but our landlord doesn’t treat us well. We don’t ever see him other than when he picks up the rent check once a month. One time, our rent was ten days overdue. His wife came to our house and insulted us. She said that she would complain to the police. If she complains, we will be deported from the country. She said, “get the money however you can”. We know she treats us such because we are Christians since they ask about our religion whenever we rent a place. They know most Iranians are Shiites.

16. Maryam - We have relations with pious Iranians at the church, but mostly at the level of exchanging pleasantries. We don’t have a lot of relations with non-Christian Iranians. We never leave the house, except to go to church every Sunday. I am very depressed and don’t like the daytime to come. One time, my younger daughter became very ill. She had pneumonia and a sinus infection. She still has asthma. We obtain her medications with difficulty..

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