Middle East and North Africa

Iranian Christians facing verdict in religious freedom

Ramiel Bet Tamraz

Iranian Christians are requesting prayer for a forthcoming court hearing for Pastor Victor Bet Tamraz, his son Ramiel and other Christians arrested at a picnic in Firuzkuh in August 2016, according to the advocacy group, Middle East Concern.

On Boxing Day in 2014  security officials raided the house of Pastor Victor in Tehran during a private Christmas celebration. All present were arrested, but most were released shortly afterwards. However, Pastor Victor, who is from an Assyrian Christian background, and Amin Nader Afshar and Kavian (both believers from Muslim backgrounds) were arrested and taken to Evin Prison in Tehran where they were interrogated and only released in February and March 2015 after submitting bail.

On 19th September 2015, while attending his son’s wedding, Pastor Victor was summoned to security offices for further interrogation.

Nearly a year later in August 2016 Ramiel Bet Tamraz (the son of Pastor Victor), Amin Nader Afshar, Mohammad Dehnavy, Amir Sina Dashti and Hadi Askary were arrested at a picnic in Firuzkuh. They were detained in Evin Prison and interrogated for many weeks, often in solitary confinement.

In October and November 2016 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 remain detained in Evin Prison.

Pastor Victor has been charged with evangelism, acting against national security, conducting illegal Christian gatherings and misuse of the title “doctor” (which was used by people who wanted prayer for healing).

Those arrested in August have been charged with acting against national security and organising and creating house churches. Ramiel faces additional charges of propagating the teaching of his father Pastor Victor.

The presiding judge will be Mr Ahmad Por at the 26th Islamic Revolutionary Court. The date is not confirmed, but it is expected that a verdict will be delivered.