Pastor arrested while celebrating Christmas

Pastor arrested while celebrating Christmas

Pastor Victor Bet-Tamraz, former leader of the Assyrian Pentecostal Church of Tehran (Shahrara), was arrested on Friday, 26 December, along with two of his friends, Amin Afshar-Naderi and Kavian Fallah-Mohammadi, as they celebrated Christmas together.

Ten plainclothes officers, introducing themselves as agents of the Revolutionary Court, entered the pastor’s home and confiscated many personal items, including Bibles, mobile phones and identification documents.

The officers searched all those present, separating men from women, and told them they were participating in an “unlawful and unauthorised gathering”.

The officers then forced them to fill out forms with the insignia of the Ministry of Intelligence, and filmed them as they explained why they had gathered.

After several hours of filming and interrogation, the plainclothes agents arrested Victor, Amin and Kavian, and transferred them to Evin Prison.

“In recent years, the wave of arrests of Christians at Christmas has become routine,” explains Article18’s Advocacy Director, Mansour Borji. “The tendency of Iranians to attend Christmas celebrations together at this time is one of the reasons.”

Victor was dismissed from his post at the Shahrara church in March 2009 because he had held services in Farsi, which were seen to be aimed at attracting Muslims to convert to Christianity.

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