Iranian Christians request prayer for three ongoing cases involving Christians in which there have been recent developments.
Ebrahim Firouzi’s mother has undergone surgery for cancer and is weak and unable to care for herself. She is having chemotherapy. According to Mohabat News, Ebrahim (pictured) has not been given leave to visit her.
Ebrahim was arrested on 21st August 2013. He was due for release on 13th January 2015 but was kept in detention, re-tried on 5th March 2015 and charged with “acting against national security, gathering and collusion”. In April 2015 he was sentenced to five years in prison.
On 13th July 2016 he was summoned to attend an appeal hearing but refused to go, thinking it was sufficient for his lawyer to attend. He was beaten by guards and taken to court. One of the judges was absent and the hearing was postponed. On 11th December 2016 his appeal was heard in court and a decision was recently given upholding his sentence.
ARRESTS IN FIRUZKUH, AUGUST 2016:
Those arrested in August have been charged with “acting against national security” and “organising and creating house churches”. Ramiel Bet Tamraz faces additional charges of propagating the teaching of his father Pastor Victor Bet Tamraz. It is expected they will have a final hearing in the coming weeks and a verdict will be delivered.
On 26th August Amin Nader Afshar, Ramiel Bet Tamraz, Mohammad Dehnavy, Amir Sina Dashti and Hadi Askary were arrested at a picnic in Firuzkuh. They were detained in Evin Prison in Tehran.
In October and November Ramiel, Mohammad and Amir were able to get conditional release by submitting bail payments. Hadi and Amin were unable to raise the bail demanded for their release and went on hunger strike in February to demand that their case be addressed. They received a promise from the attorney general’s office that their case would be seen to promptly and ended their hunger strike. Hadi has reportedly been suffering a kidney infection and has not received medical attention.
ARRESTS IN RASHT, MAY 2016:
According to Christianity Solidarity Worldwide, authorities in Rasht have referred charges of acting against national security to Tehran, resulting in further delay in this case.
Yaser Mosibzadeh, Saheb Fadayee and Mohammad Reza Omidi were arrested on 13th May with their pastor Yousef Nadarkhani as they were celebrating communion. They were charged with acting against national security and have had two hearings, but a verdict is pending. Yaser, Saheb and Mohammad Reza were charged with consumption of alcohol for drinking wine at communion and sentenced on 10th September to 80 lashes.
On 9th February the lawyer representing Yaser, Saheb and Mohammad Reza attended an appeal hearing and stressed that, as converts to Christianity, it is not illegal for them to drink wine because, though alcohol is prohibited for Muslims in Iran, it is permitted for Christians. The judge has yet to give a decision.
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Prayer is requested that:
a. Ebrahim be allowed to visit his mother
b. he will be released, despite his sentence being upheld
c. the Lord will heal his mother and encourage the family
d. the judge will reject the charges against the Christians arrested in Firuzkuh, and will acquit them
e. the case against the Christians in Rasht will be rejected, and the charges of acting against national security and drinking wine at communion will be dropped