On 26 August MEC issued an email requesting prayer for an appeal court hearing scheduled for 3 September in which three separate cases would be considered. Iranian Christians report that it now seems likely that only two of the defendants will have their sentences reviewed at the upcoming hearing, not six as previously understood.
The first of the three cases involves Assyrian Pastor Victor bet Tamraz and Persian Christian converts Amin Nader Afshari and Kavian Fallah Mohammadi (arrested at a Christmas celebration in December 2014). The second also involves Amin Nader Afshari, who was re-arrested in August 2016 with another convert, Hadi Asgari, and Ramiel bet Tamraz (Pastor Victor’s son), together with two others. The third case involves Shamiram Issavi Khabizeh, Pastor Victor’s wife.
The presiding judge, Ahmed Zargar, indicated at a hearing for Shamiram Issavi Khabizeh on 19 February that the three cases would be combined for the 3 September appeal hearing. However, to date only Shamiram and Kavian Fallah Mohammadi have received summonses for the upcoming hearing.
The family of Victor, Shamiram and Ramiel is disappointed that Victor and Ramiel have not been summoned to the hearing as had previously been indicated. They believe that the Iranian authorities are delaying the judicial process to put pressure on the family to leave Iran.
Shamiram was initially summoned for questioning by the authorities in June 2017 and sentenced in January 2018 to five years’ imprisonment for ‘acting against national security’, and ‘acting against the regime by organising small groups, attending a seminary abroad and training church leaders and pastors to act as spies.’ Kavian was arrested at a Christmas celebration in December 2014 and sentenced to ten years’ imprisonment for “action against national security and illegal assembly.” Kavian is not in the country and will be unable to attend the hearing.
Iranian Christians request continued prayer that:
- Shamiram will know the Lord’s peace and guiding wisdom at the hearing
- The Lord will direct the judge, Ahmad Zargar, as he prepares for the hearing on 3 September
- That all defendants in the three cases will eventually be acquitted of all charges against them.
- The Lord will strengthen and encourage all Iranian Christians who are falsely accused of acts against national security simply because of their Christian faith and activities.