Iranian-Assyrian Christians flee but vow to continue legal battle

Iranian-Assyrian Christians flee but vow to continue legal battle

Article18 can now confirm that Iranian-Assyrian Christians Victor Bet-Tamraz and Shamiram Issavi fled Iran on Saturday, hours before Shamiram was due to begin her five-year prison sentence.

The couple’s daughter, Dabrina, told Article18 that while she does not wish to disclose where they are, her parents are “safe and well” and determined to continue their legal battle against their combined 15-year prison sentence.

“We continue to pray and hope for their sentences to be dropped,” she said. “We pray for justice both for my parents and for all the believers suffering in prisons.”

A copy of Shamiram’s summons, dated 11 August 2020, telling her she has five days to report to the Shahid Moghadas Court to begin her sentence or otherwise face arrest.

As Article18 reported on Sunday, Shamiram received an official summons last Tuesday, 11 August, to present herself at Tehran’s Shahid Moghadas Court, inside Evin Prison, within five days to begin her sentence, or face arrest.

Three weeks earlier, on 19 July, Victor had received a telephone call from his lawyer, telling him that his three-year-long appeal against his 10-year prison sentence had failed.

Therefore, facing prison, the couple, who are both in their mid-sixties, decided with heavy hearts to leave their homeland and continue their legal battle abroad.

Dabrina added that they are determined to return to Iran if they can overturn the unjust prison sentences against them.


It was during a Christmas celebration, way back in 2014, that the couple’s ordeal began.

Victor was arrested, alongside two Christian converts, Amin Afshar-Naderi and Kavian Fallah-Mohammadi, and held in solitary confinement for 65 days.

The converts were eventually sentenced alongside their pastor and a third convert, Hadi Asgari, in July 2017. 

Left to right: Victor Bet-Tamraz, Shamiram Issavi, Kavian Fallah-Mohammadi, Amin Afshar-Naderi, and Hadi Asgari.

Kavian and Hadi were also given 10 years in prison; Amin was sentenced to 15. 

Article18 can now confirm that the three converts have also been notified by their lawyers that their appeals have been rejected.

Shamiram received her prison sentence six months after her husband and the three converts, in January 2018. 

But it took another two and half years of numerous scheduled and postponed hearings until the appeals court finally ruled to reject the five Christians’ appeals.