News

Pastor’s son sentenced to 4 months in prison

Pastor’s son sentenced to 4 months in prison

Ramil 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, who was arrested alongside him in August 2016, received the same sentence.

The sentences were pronounced by Judge Mashallah Ahmadzadeh at a Tehran Revolutionary Court on 8 July.

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.

Ramil 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.

Ramil, 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, Ramil’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 representative of the Islamic Consultative Assembly, the pastor was removed from the leadership of the church and the church was forced to halt all meetings in Farsi and ban all non-Assyrian members.

“In spite of the claims of the Iranian government, the Christian community of Iran faces religious discrimination and organised and structural discrimination,” says Article18 spokesman Kiaa Aalipour. “Over the past four decades, the number of Christian converts has increased dramatically, which has been a source of concern for the power-holders in Iran. Hence, they have imposed a number of limitations, including the prohibition of the presence of Christian converts in church, the violation of freedom of worship and community, the closure of the only Christian Bible publication centre, the arrest, imprisonment and even the murder of Christian leaders, and many other things.”