Contact: Jessica Quinn
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CAROL STREAM, Ill.— Authors of “Captive in Iran” the memoir of Maryam Rostampour and Marziyeh Amirizadeh, the true story of two young Iranian women who were imprisoned at the notorious Evin Prison in Tehran and sentenced to death by hanging for spreading Christianity, are in Washington to speak with members of Congress about the human rights and religious freedoms violations of Iran.

In addition to private meetings with members of the Senate and the House, The Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission and the International Religious Freedom Caucus will host a book discussion and briefing on “Captive in Iran” on Tuesday focusing on the religious freedom violations the authors have suffered. Later on Tuesday, the Hudson Institute’s Center for Religious Freedom will also host a book discussion focusing on the human rights violations Rostampour and Amirizadeh experienced while in Evin prison.

According to Rostampour and Amirizadeh, Islamic laws in Iran forbid sharing Christian beliefs, and they knew they were putting their lives on the line. Following seminary training in Turkey, these women moved back to their home country, Iran, and covertly began putting Farsi New Testaments into the hands of their countrymen. Rostampour and Amirizadeh also started two secret house churches, one for young people and one for prostitutes—many of these women had been abandoned by their husbands and had no other way to support themselves and their children.

“We wrote stories in our book of many women whom were victims of the Iranian government, whose human rights were violated in Iranian prisons, especially in Evin,” said Amirizadeh. “We are trying to show other nations what is going on in Iranian prisons, including tortures and executions, not just with political prisoners, but with all who are victims of injustice.”

“Captive in Iran” also tells the story of how Rostampour and Amirizadeh had almost been caught many times and what seemed like divine intervention when they were not. But finally—perhaps inevitably—in 2009, the two young women were arrested and held in the notorious Evin Prison in Tehran, a place where inmates are routinely tortured, and executions by hanging are swift and sudden. They were interrogated, intimidated by their captors, held in solitary confinement, and given a death sentence. However, instead of succumbing to fear, Rostampour and Amirizadeh chose to take the radical—and dangerous—step of sharing their faith inside the very prison meant to silence them. According to Rostampour and Amirizadeh, Evin prison became their church.

“The government tried to silence us by keeping us in prison,” said Rostampour, “but we had more opportunities to share the message of Jesus with prisoners and even some guards. We got arrested because of our faith in Christ and evangelizing Christianity.”

In “Captive in Iran,” Rostampour and Amirizadeh recount how God used their 259 days in Evin Prison to bring about a miraculous reversal of their death sentence. Now American refugees, they have a passion to share the stories of the women they met, and ministered to, in prison. They want the world to understand the violations of human rights in Iranian prisons, and “show the power of God and how He helped us survive Evin prison.”

About Maryam Rostampour and Marziyeh Amirizadeh:
Maryam Rostampour and Marziyeh Amirizadeh were born into Muslim families in Iran. They met while studying Christian theology in Turkey in 2005, and realized they had become Christians at about the same time six years earlier. Deciding to join forces, they returned to Iran and began a program of mission outreach, handing out Farsi New Testaments and starting two house churches in their apartment, one for young people and the other for prostitutes. They extended their ministry with mission trips to India, South Korea and Turkey. In 2009 they were arrested in Tehran for promoting Christianity—a capital crime in Iran—and imprisoned for 259 days in the city’s notorious Evin Prison. The official charges were apostasy, anti-government activity, and blasphemy, for which they were sentenced to execution by hanging. As many around the world prayed for their freedom, and as a result of international lobbying, Rostampour and Amirizadeh were released in 2009 and cleared of all charges the following year. After their release, they immigrated to the United States and now live in Atlanta.