Several Christians in Iran are appealing sentences ranging from 5 to 10 years. They include: Hadi Asgari, Amin Afshari, Pastor Victor Bet Tamraz and his wife Shamiram Khabizeh, Eskander Rezaei, Suroush Saraei, Mohammad-Reza and Yasser Saheb (latter two sentenced to lashes for consuming communion wine).
Ramil Bet Tamraz
Ramil has been given a four-month jail sentence for ‘acting against national security’ because of his involvement in house churches in Iran. His parents, Pastor Victor Bet Tamraz and Shamiram Isavi, are serving suspended sentences for their own church activities. Ramil was held for two months after his arrest in 2016. Pray that his appeal succeeds so he will not have to serve the rest of his sentence.
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Daughter of imprisoned Iranian pastor speaks out ahead of appeal: “It’s not a sin nor a crime or against national security to gather at a home and pray”
An Iranian Christian whose father, mother and brother have all been handed jail terms has spoken out against their verdicts.
Ahead of a planned legal appeal, Dabrina Bet Tamraz stated, “My father and mother have been given heavy sentences without any evidence. The verdict against my father says he attended religious seminars in the US, Sweden and the Netherlands even though he has never stepped foot in those countries.”
Dabrina’s father previously pastored an Assyrian church in Tehran. Iranian authorities normally permit Christians from the Assyrian and Armenian ethnic groups to meet openly, but Victor’s church was closed down in 2009, because the congregation worshipped in the Farsi, the language spoken by most Iranians, who are Muslims. Victor and his wife then held meetings in their own home, prior to their arrest. They have been given jail terms of five and ten years, respectively, for “acting against national security”, but are appealing against the sentences. In June, Dabrina’s brother Ramiel became the third member of the family to be sentenced to jail for “acting against national security”.
Dabrina insists, “Using the Persian language [Farsi] in church cannot be considered a crime … It’s not a sin nor a crime or against national security to gather at a home and pray.” Iranian authorities fiercely persecute Farsi-speaking Christian congregations, almost all of whom are made up of converts from Islam.