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Ordeal of Iranian pastor and family continues as judge fails to turn up for their appeals


10 September 2019

An Iranian Christian couple and their son had their court appeals against lengthy prison sentences imposed for “acting against national security” postponed on 3 September after the judge failed to turn up.

No new date has been scheduled for the appeals of Pastor Victor Bet Tamraz, his wife, Shamiram, and their son, Ramiel.

The couple’s daughter, Dabrina, spoke in May about the ordeal her parents and brother were enduring as they waited on bail for the hearing to take place while under intense surveillance from the authorities. “They are living with constant anxiety, powerless, not having security and safety even in their own home … They are watched, controlled and wiretapped,” she said.

Ramiel (pictured), father Victor and mother Shamiram's hopes of overturning their lengthy prison sentences were set back when the judge failed to turn up for their appeal hearing
Ramiel (pictured), father Victor and mother Shamiram's hopes of overturning their lengthy prison sentences were set back when the judge failed to turn up for their appeal hearing

Victor was pastor of an Assyrian church in Tehran before it was closed for worshipping in Farsi, the language spoken by most Iranians, who are Muslim.

Historic Assyrian and Armenian Christian minorities who have their own languages, not spoken by the Muslim majority, are usually allowed to worship freely in those languages. However, Christian worship meetings in Farsi, the national language, spoken by the Muslim majority, are often targeted by the Iranian authorities, in their efforts to discourage conversion of Muslims to Christianity.

Pastor Victor and his wife held meetings in their home prior to their arrest. They have been given sentences of five and ten years, respectively. In July 2018, their son, Ramiel, became the third member of the family to be convicted and imprisoned.