Assyrians in Iran Imprisoned for Activities Related to the Practice of Christian Faith

From left to right: Victor Bet-Tamraz, Shamiran Issavi, Ramil Bet-Tamraz.

Two ethnic Assyrians in Iran, Victor Bet-Tamraz and his wife Shamiran Issavi, have each been sentenced to ten years in prison for activities related to the practice of their Christian faith.

According to Amnesty International, Bet-Tamraz and Issavi, as well as two Christian converts named Amin Afshar-Naderi and Hadi Asgari, have been targeted for “illegal church activities” which “threaten national security” in order to justify their convictions. Authorities have cited private Christmas gatherings, organizing and conducting house churches, as well as traveling outside of the country to attend Christian seminars in their case.

Bet-Tamraz, Afshar-Naderi, and one other individual were detained in Tehran on December 26, 2014 during a private Christmas gathering by officers in civilian clothing, and taken to Evin prison in Iran where they had no access to legal representation and very minimal contact with their families. Several months later, they were released on bail and later tried alongside Asgari on May 21, 2017. The men were charged with “forming a group composed of more than two people with the purpose of disrupting national security” in relation to their church activities.