Pastor Victor Bet-Tamarz

Prisoner Name: Pastor Victor Bet-Tamarz

 

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 RELEASED! Pastor Victor Bet-Tamarz (Iran)

Thank you for praying for Pastor Victor Bet-Tamarz (December 2014’s Prisoner Profile), who has been released from Evin Prison in Tehran.

Pastor Victor expresses his thanks to those who have been praying for him, and says that it was a great source of encouragement to know of this support. Pastor Victor feels weak, has breathing difficulties, and has lost weight. He also has a tooth infection, but otherwise is in reasonable health. Security officials are keeping his home under observation.

By praying for, supporting and writing to, and on behalf of, prisoners of faith you are fulfilling the biblical exhortation to ‘REMEMBER THOSE IN PRISON’ (Hebrews 13:3).

Location: Iran
Arrested: December 2014
Sentence: Awaiting
Arrest and background
Pastor Victor Bet-Tamarz is an Assyrian pastor whose pastoral role is
officially recognised by the Iranian Government. He has served as a faithful
minister in Iranian Pentecostal churches for many years, most recently in
Tehran, as General Superintendent in Shahr-Ara Pentecostal Church.
As an ancient community of modern-day Iran, Assyrian Christians have been officially permitted to
worship in their own language, which is a form of Aramaic. However, Pastor Victor’s church in Tehran
has remained closed since 2009 after he refused to comply with regulations that demanded Assyrian
church leaders ban non-Assyrians from attending and stop services in Farsi, the language of the Muslim
majority. Jonathan Betkolia, an Assyrian Member of Iran’s Parliament, played a key role in the closure of
the church. Influenced by Mr Betkolia, the Council for Assyrian Churches in Iran demoted Pastor Victor
from his pastoral role and forced him to abandon official ministry. He has continued his ministry outside
the official churches.
On December 26, 2014, Pastor Victor was arrested at his home while celebrating Christmas with a
number of Christians. Apparently, the authorities deemed such a gathering to be ‘unauthorised and
illegal’. A large group of plain-clothes security police entered the house at 5.30pm and temporarily
arrested all present. The police, who identified themselves as Revolutionary Guards, separated men
from women and searched them, seizing all Bibles, mobile phones and identity documents. Two female
officers conducted the body searches on female detainees. All detainees were filmed and asked to
introduce themselves to the camera and say why they were there and why they thought they were
being arrested.The Revolutionary Guards searched the house thoroughly and confiscated a computer,
more mobile phones and several books. They then arrested Pastor Victor and took him to Evin prison.
One of the Christian converts present, named Amin, was taken to a car to be questioned privately. Then
a few officers took him to his house to search there. There have been no reports of his whereabouts
since. The Revolutionary Guards released all of the other detainees, but warned them that they may be
summoned to the office of the Intelligence Ministry for further investigation. The Guards left the house
at 1am.
The 60-year-old pastor apparently suffers from diabetes and family members are concerned for his
health. They are also unsure about what actual charge, if any, that Pastor Victor is being held under. In a
very brief phone call from prison to his family, the pastor reportedly was forced to speak Farsi, instead of
using his native language, so that guards could monitor what was said.

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