Updated: Iranian-Assyrian Pastor and wife denied appeal; combined 15 year sentence upheld

Updated: Aug 19, 2020

Pastor Victor Bet Tamraz and Shamiran Issavi (Courtesy Article 18)

Iranian-Assyrian Pastor Victor Bet Tamraz, 66, and his wife Shamiran Issavi, 65, were convicted in July 2017 and January 2018, respectively, of charges related to the practice of their Christian faith, including "illegal church activities" which "threaten national security" in Iran. The cited activities included private Christmas gatherings, organizing and conducting house churches, and traveling outside Iran to attend Christian seminars. Bet Tamraz was sentenced to ten years in prison, while Issavi received a five-year sentence. For more information, click here.

The couple appealed their individual convictions, but their appeal hearings have repeatedly been delayed or canceled over the course of three years for various reasons, including reports of courts being "too crowded." Their latest scheduled appearance, which was to take place on June 1, 2020, was canceled for reasons that are unclear.

On July 19, 2020, Pastor Bet Tamraz was informed that his appeal had been denied, and that no further hearings would be scheduled. Similarly, on August 11, 2020, Issavi received summons to report to Evin Prison in Tehran to begin her prison sentence.

Family members fear for their safety should they be forced to serve, particularly in light of an outbreak of Covid-19 at Evin Prison. If imprisoned, Bet Tamraz and Issavi would be prisoners of conscie