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Witness Statement: Maryam and Her Son

17. Siavash - I don’t know any Muslim Iranians in Ankara. I don’t know how they would react to our conversion to Christianity. When we lived in Kastamonu, we knew a Muslim family that treated us with respect and didn’t insult us. It was hard even for them to understand why a Muslim person would change his religion!

18. Maryam - We converted to Christianity because God entered our hearts. Developing a relationship with God is like falling in love.

19. Siavash - Before we converted to Christianity, we lived in darkness and our fates were doomed, as if God was asleep in our hearts. When we converted to Christianity, I think we were chosen by God. All of this is in the TV interviews and you can watch. My father’s conversion to Christianity, I think, is a miracle. My father works a lot (16 hours a day). He can’t even take a day off, and couldn’t take one off to participate in the TV interviews. He says his dream is to be able to sleep in for one day. My father is fifty years old but he does things that even a young man like me may not be able to do.

20. Maryam - We are in such a financial bind right now that I get the things I want from the grocery store on credit. Of course, all of this is debt and must be paid off. My relatives in Iran don’t send us money. We have never asked them for help anyway. I only ask God to provide for us and take my children and me from here to wherever he deems fit.

21. Siavash - My dream is to move somewhere where I can attend school with my sisters and have a legal status and an identity. Right now, we live like ghosts with no identity. The Turkish government doesn’t give us the right to work or receive education or even a residence permit. We had a very good life in Iran. We came here because of my father’s political problems. When we came here we had to start over, as if we had gone bankrupt. My father never asked for help from my uncle, especially since they were not on good terms.

22. Maryam - If we didn’t have political problems, we wouldn’t have sought asylum in Turkey to live in hiding. March 2010 marks eleven years that we have lived in Turkey. Norooz 1999 we were on the bus, on our way to Turkey. At that time my husband was in prison and we had a lot of problems, and my children and I came to Turkey. Even my husband, who was in prison, didn’t know that we had decided to go to Turkey.

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