On 11 and 12 November, Middle East Concern requested prayer for Ebrahim Firouzi, who is serving two years’ internal exile, and for two court hearings, one for Ismaeil Maghrebinejad and the other for Assyrian Pastor Victor bet Tamraz, his wife Shamiram Issavi Khabizeh, and Persian Christian converts Amin Nader Afshari, Kavian Fallah Mohammadi and Hadi Asghari.
Ebrahim Firouzi, who was ordered to go to internal exile in Sarbaz for two years as part of a prison sentence he received in 2013, arrived safely last Tuesday (12 November) and has been able to rent a small house. He is required to sign at the court office on a daily basis to prove his residence in the city.
Ebrahim was released from Rajaei Shahr prison in Karaj on 26 October after spending more than six years there, serving two concurrent sentences related to his Christian faith and activity.
The court hearing on 12 November for Ismaeil Maghrebinajad (65) proceeded relatively well. He faced charges of ‘propaganda against the state and insulting the sacred Iranian establishment,’ ‘apostasy’ and a charge related to giving instruction to a Christian family. The first two charges appear to have been dropped, but Ismaeil still faces the latter charge. The date of the next court session is unknown. Ismaeil was arrested on 25 January and endured intense interrogation, irrespective of his age.
The appeal hearing for Victor, Shamiram, Amin, Kavian and Hadi was postponed, the only reason given being that the court was “too busy.” Kavian believes that the underlying reason for the postponement is Pastor Victor’s determination to remain in Iran.
Pastor Victor, Kavian and Amin were arrested at a Christmas celebration in 2014. Amin was rearrested at a picnic in 2015, along with Hadi. Pastor Victor was sentenced in July 2017 to ten years’ imprisonment for ‘acting against national security’. Amin, Hadi and Kavian also received prison sentences of between ten and fifteen years on similar charges. Shamiram was summoned for interrogation in 2017 and was sentenced in January 2018 to five years’ imprisonment for ‘acting against national security’, and ‘acting against the regime by organizing small groups, attending a seminary abroad and training church leaders and pastors to act as spies.’
Iranian Christians are thankful that Ebrahim arrived safely in Sarbaz and has been able to rent a house and that the court hearing for Ismaeil was positive, but they also request prayer that:
- Ebrahim will find work and friends in Sarbaz and that God will protect and encourage him
- Ismaeil will be encouraged by the latest hearing, but will be acquitted of all charges
- The case against Pastor Victor and the others will dropped and this pressure for the defendants and their families will finally come to an end
- God will bring peace to Iran in these days of protest and that the authorities will not act violently and provoke the protesters