News
27 February 2020

Court hearing rescheduled yet again for Iranian church leaders

Frustratingly, the court hearings for Pastor Victor Bet-Tamraz and his wife Shamiram Isavi Khabizeh, appealing against prison sentences relating to their church activities, have been postponed yet again.


27 February 2020 

Frustratingly, the court hearings for Pastor Victor Bet-Tamraz and his wife Shamiram Isavi Khabizeh, appealing against prison sentences relating to their church activities, have been postponed yet again.  

Pastor Victor (far left) and Shamiram (far right).

Pastor Victor (far left) and Shamiram (far right)

They arrived at the court on Monday 24 February with their lawyers, only to be told their cases could not be heard because a summons for another Christian, Hadi Asgari, also represented by Shamiram’s lawyer, had not been sent. 

Their last scheduled court appearance, for November 2019, was cancelled because the court was ‘too crowded’. 

Pastor Victor was arrested with two members of his church in 2014 as they celebrated Christmas together. The government had already closed the Tehran Pentecostal Assyrian Church, which he led, in 2009. He was found guilty of 'conducting evangelism' and 'illegal house-church activities', among other charges, and given a 10-year prison sentence.  

Shamiram is appealing against a five-year prison sentence for acting against national security and against the regime ‘by organising small groups, attending a seminary abroad and training church leaders and pastors to act as spies’.  

Both Pastor Victor and Shamiram are currently out on bail. Open Doors ran a letter-writing campaign for the couple, as well as two other Christians who are already serving their sentences: Ebrahim Firouzi (31, pictured middle left), who was charged with 'promoting Christian Zionism' and is now spending two years in exile after six years in prison, and Nasser-Navard Gol-Tapeh (57, pictured middle right), an Iranian convert to Christianity serving ten years in prison for 'missionary activities'. 

EARLY RELEASE 

Ramiel, Pastor Victor and Shamiram’s son, was admitted to Evin Prison in January – he is set for an early release in March.  

Dabrina, Ramiel’s sister, shared the news with Article18. She also said that Ramiel ‘has greatly appreciated the chance to pray and worship with the other Christians currently incarcerated in Evin Prison’ – which includes Nasser Navard Gol-Tapeh. Ramiel told Dabrina that they take it in turns to give a short sermon.  

Dabrina told Article18, "I would of course be delighted when the whole thing is over and my family can go free, but on the other hand we don’t want them to go to prison…" 

Iran is number 9 on the World Watch List. Open Doors supports the church in Iran through partners – as well as trauma training, this is done through distributing Bibles and other Christian literature online, advocacy for those in prison and various forms of training. 

Please keep Pastor Victor, Shamiram and their family in your prayers. 

PLEASE PRAY:

  • For the Lord’s justice to prevail, that Pastor Victor and Shamiram will eventually be acquitted of all charges against them
  • That all the defendants and their families would know the peace, love, hope and joy of God as they wait for more news
  • That 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. 

PLEASE PRAY

Lord Jesus, may Your light break through the darkness in India through Your church. Strengthen our brothers and sisters, that they may face trials with love and grace, and so turn the hearts of their persecutors to You. Soften the hearts of those in power, that they may have compassion on Your church.

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