08/17/2020 Iran (International Christian Concern) – An Iranian couple in their 60s has lost their appeal regarding 5 and 10-year jail sentences which were issued because of their Christian faith. Pastor Victor Bet Tamraz and his wife Shamiran Issavi are Assyrian, and thus their faith technically has constitutional protections, something which is not true in practice.
For years, the family has faced intense persecution because of the public practice of their faith. This latest round of persecution relates to events from 2017-2018, when they (and their son) were arrested and charged with “illegal house church activities” and “threatening national security.” The couple has been engaged in efforts to appeal their jail sentences, but the hearings were repeatedly delayed for months. They have only learned of the outcome of the appeal within the past four weeks.
Iran claims to protect religious freedom, citing constitutional protections that only apply for those citizens who can prove they were Christians before the 1979 Islamic Revolution (such as Assyrians and Armenians). However, this case demonstrates the government’s relentless pursuit of all Christians and policy of ignoring all legal obligations for religious freedom. Iran already rates as one of the harshest countries in the world for the persecution of Christians.
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