Updates: Youcef Nadarkhani & Mia Rivera

head shot of man and small boy snuggling

Nadarkhani with son Yoel, 2009

Today is Iranian pastor Youcef Nadarkhani’s 841st day in prison. He’s waiting to be hanged.

For being a Christian.

In a country whose constitution guarantees religious freedom. Go figure.

According to a central European news agency, human rights activists in Iran have reported that, on December 30th, the government offered Nadarkhani release in return for a public statement that Mohammed was “a messenger sent by God.” Nadarkhani declined the deal, saying that the statement would be tantamount to repudiating his faith in Christ.

Now the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ) is reporting that the Chief Justice of the Gilan Provincial Court is again pressuring Nadarkhani to recant his faith.

Last October, the Gilan Provincial Court requested a ruling on the case from Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Sayyed Ali Khameini. The court told Nadarkhani’s attorneys  that if Khameini didn’t respond by early December, it would go ahead and hand down its final decision. But both the court and Khameini are still stalling, apparently waiting to see if they can pressure Nadarkhani into recanting his faith.

Firouz Khandjani, a council member of the Church of Iran, says that, with international pressure mounting:

I think judges would rather release him, but are under pressure by hardliners to execute him. That’s why the court asked Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Khameini for an opinion: so they can say they are not responsible for his execution.

If you want to follow Nadarkhani’s situation, the ACLJ’s Nadarkhani page is an easy place to do so. If you want more background on Nadarkhani, check out my prior posts here and here.

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Little girl with long brown hair

Mia Rivera

I wrote recently (“Where are you taking us?”) about Mia Rivera, the three-year-old girl refused a life-saving kidney transplant at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) because she’s developmentally delayed.

Mia’s mother, Chrissy Rivera, blogged about the experience (“Brick Walls”) on January 12th. People began Facebooking and blogging, and the sleepy little wolfhirschhorn.org site, an online support group for parents of kids with Wolf-Hirschhorn Syndrome, suddenly found itself with 62,000 hits in a single day. Hundreds of people left complaints on CHOP’s Facebook page. Thousands signed an online petition asking the hospital to do the transplant.

Last week, wolfhirschhorn.org issued an update on Mia’s situation:

Over the weekend, a meeting took place between a number of the key leaders of CHOP, the Riveras and wolfhirschhorn.org. The purpose of the meeting was to get an understanding of the chain of events that led to the “Brick Walls” posting. The meeting lasted a little over 90 minutes and the Riveras had an opportunity to tell their side of the story and the related concerns about Mia’s needs and how CHOP handled the situation.

CHOP agreed that the system is broken and that they are taking steps to fix the process. In addition to addressing Mia and the next steps with her transplant discussions, a few suggestions were made to CHOP about their involvement in a more macro view of awareness around transplant rights for the disabled, and public and medical community education around the “mentally retarded” phrase. CHOP agreed to follow up and communicate their action items by the end of this week.

Mia and the Riveras are planning a visit to CHOP in the near future to determine CHOP’s role in her transplant and her ongoing medical care. Once that meeting takes place, we will issue a statement on the status of Mia, her care, and CHOP’s involvement moving forward.

To keep up to date on details of this story, LIKE us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter (@wolf_hirschhorn). Thanks!

“The support from so many people who have never met [Mia],” says Chrissy Rivera in USA Today, ”is awesome.”

Nice to know that a bunch of little Whos can still make our voices heard. And important to remember that, as Horton keeps saying, a person’s a person, no matter how small.

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3 thoughts on “Updates: Youcef Nadarkhani & Mia Rivera

  1. Yes. I didn’t say this and probably should have, but–because keeping him in public awareness seems key to keeping him alive–ACLJ is asking permission to tweet once a day about Nadarkhani through your Twitter account.

    More info at: http://aclj.org/nadarkhani

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