Iranian Christians’ appeal hearing postponed yet again because “too many cases”
Pastor Victor Bet-Tamraz, his wife Shamiram and their son Ramiel had their appeal hearings postponed yet again on 13 November on the grounds that the judge said there were too many cases and not enough time to hear the Christians’ case; they have been waiting over two years for their appeals to be heard.
The scheduled 3 September 2019 appeal for the three was postponed because the judge failed to turn up. Their daughter, Dabrina, says that the continuing postponements are preventing them from moving on with their lives.
Dabrina, who has spoken out against her family members’ convictions, alleges that the delay could be deliberate because Iran is currently the subject of a UN human rights review. “They’re trying to buy some time for themselves and let the situation calm down before they make a decision regarding my parents,” she said.
Pastor Victor and Shamiram were first arrested on 26 December 2014. In July 2017, the pastor was sentenced to ten years in prison for “acting against national security” by organising and conducting house churches and Shamiram was given a five-year sentence.
Ramiel was arrested with four friends in August 2016 and later sentenced to four months in prison for “acting against national security.”
Pastor Victor led an Assyrian church in Tehran before it was closed for worshipping in Farsi, the language spoken by most Iranians. Christian worship in Farsi is often targeted by authorities in their efforts to discourage the conversion of Muslims to Christianity.