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Daughter of convicted pastor speaks out at UN

Daughter of convicted pastor speaks out at UN

(World Evangelical Alliance)

Today the daughter of an Iranian pastor sentenced to ten years in prison has spoken out at the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva.

Dabrina Bet-Tamraz, whose father Victor was sentenced in July last year and whose mother, Shamiram, was in January given a five-year sentence of her own, said the allegations against her parents were “false” and “a grave injustice”.

Dabrina’s brother, Ramil, is also facing charges and is currently out on bail.

Her parents were convicted of acting against national security by “establishing and managing churches, attending Christian seminars abroad and training Christian leaders in Iran for ‘spying’”.

But Dabrina told the council: “There are many Iranian Christians today serving sentences for similar, baseless accusations. This is wrong. And these court cases must stop.

“Iranian Christians are not terrorists, as my father said in his last court hearing, and I repeat: ‘We love our country. We pray for our authorities. We have no intentions against the government’.”

Dabrina was representing the World Evangelical Alliance, which has called on the Iranian government to provide religious freedom for its citizens and to halt false accusations against Christians.

Victor and Shamiram were the official leaders of the 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.

Contrary to the claims of the Iranian government, Iran’s Christians face religious persecution and organised and structural discrimination. Over the past four decades, the number of Christian converts has increased dramatically, which has been a source of concern for power-holders in Iran. Hence, they have imposed a number of limitations, including banning Christian converts from attending churches, the closure of the only Bible-publication centre, and the arrest, imprisonment and even murder of Christian leaders.