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Pastor’s son sentenced to 4 months in prison

Pastor’s son sentenced to 4 months in prison

Ramiel Bet-Tamraz, son of pastor Victor Bet-Tamraz and Shamiram Issavi, has been sentenced to four months’ imprisonment for engaging in Christian activities.

Christian convert Amir Saman Dashti and another, who was arrested alongside him in August 2016, received the same sentence, as did another Christian who cannot be named.

The sentences were pronounced by Judge Mashallah Ahmadzadeh at a Tehran Revolutionary Court on 18 June.

The court has refused to provide a copy of the verdict to the Christians’ lawyers. Recently, this illegal practice has been observed in some branches of the Revolutionary Court.

Ramiel and were arrested, without explanation, on 26 August, 2016, along with a group of other Christians at a private residence in Firoozkooh.

Also arrested that day were Hadi Asgari and Mohammad Dehnavi, as well as Amin Afshar-Naderi, who was beaten up for protesting against the unwarranted arrests.

Ramiel, who has been released owing to time already served, is the third member of his family to be given a jail sentence for participating in peaceful Christian activities. His father, Victor, was sentenced in last year to 10 years in prison, and his mother was given a five-year sentence in January. 

On 27 June, Ramiel’s sister, Dabrina, complained about rights violations against Iranian Christians, including her family, at the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva.

Her parents, Victor Bet-Tamraz and Shamiram Issavi, were the official leaders of Assyrian Pentecostal Church of Shahrara in Tehran before it was forcibly closed in March 2009. 

With the pressure of officials from the Ministry of Intelligence and the intervention of Yonathan Betkolia, the Assyrian parliamentary representative, the pastor was removed from the leadership of the church and the church was forced to halt all meetings in Persian.

“Contrary to the Iranian government’s claims, the Iranian Christian community faces religious persecution and organised and structural discrimination,” according to Article18 spokesman Kiaa Aalipour. “The number of Christian converts has increased dramatically in the last four decades, and this has caused concern among those in power in Iran. So they have imposed many restrictions, including banning the presence of Christian converts in the church, violating freedom of worship and association, closing the only Christian Bible publishing centre in Persian, arresting, imprisoning and even killing Christian leaders, and many other things.