Iranian Christians request prayer for an appeal hearing on 24 February to review the sentences of Assyrian pastor Victor Bet Tamraz, his wife Shamiram Issavi Khabizeh, and three Christian converts.
The hearing will combine three long-standing related cases. The first involves Pastor Victor and Persian Christian converts Amin Nader Afshari and Kavian Fallah Mohammadi, who were arrested at a Christmas celebration in December 2014. The second case also involves Amin Nader Afshari, who was re-arrested in August 2016 with another convert, Hadi Asgar. The third involves Shamiram, summoned by the authorities in June 2017.
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. In January 2018 Shamiram was sentenced to five years in prison for “membership of a group with the purpose of disrupting national security” and another five years in prison for “gathering and colluding to commit crimes against national security.”
At an appeal hearing in Shamiram’s case in February 2019, the judge, Ahmed Zargar, decided to combine her case with the two other cases.
A court hearing for the combined cases was scheduled for September 2019, but was postponed after the judge failed to appear. Another court hearing scheduled for November 2019 was also postponed, apparently because the court house was “too crowded.” Pastor Victor and Shamiram’s daughter, Dabrina Bet Tamraz, commented that her parents were being harassed and persecuted through the judicial proceedings, the delays and postponements.
Kavian Fallah Mohammadi commented: “I was surprised when I was arrested five years ago without any previous warning, and I didn’t know for what reason. It’s unbelievable that a person be charged with a heavy charge such as acting against national security just for attending the church, and then be sentenced to ten years in prison! After more than five years, my case still isn’t resolved. During these five years I have been living with uncertainties, disconnected from my homeland, and my family.”
Iranian Christians request prayer that:
- There would be a conclusion to these long-standing cases and that the judge will rule justly and have the courage to overturn the sentences
- The Lord will encourage the defendants and their families
- The Iranian regime will stop oppressing religious minorities, including the Christians