17/08/2020

Christian Assyrian couple in Iran sentenced to combined 15 years in prison for teaching Christianity lose appeal

TEHRAN — An Assyrian couple in Iran have lost their appeal against a combined 15 years prison sentence for teaching converts about Christianity.

Victor Bet-Tamraz (65) was sentenced to 10 years in prison in 2017. His wife, Shamiram (65), was sentenced to 5 years in prison in 2018.

The couple’s daughter, Dabrina, now living in Switzerland, fears for her parents safety given the horrific conditions of prisons in Iran and the widespread coronavirus outbreak that has likely killed at least 42,000 people, despite official Health Ministry records showing approximately 17,000 deaths.

Since their sentencing and subsequent appeals, their hearings have been repeatedly cancelled. Their most recent hearing, supposed to take place on 1 June, was cancelled with no reason given.

Although tried and sentenced separately, the latest judge to preside over the case, Ahmad Zargar, officially merged their appeals in February 2019.

Both Victor and Shamiram have been contacted by authorities and order to report to Evin Prison to begin their sentences.

The case of the Bet-Tamraz’s — as well as the three converts also arrested relating to the case — has garnered international attention, even resulting in appeals for clemency by Amnesty International and U.S. Vice President Mike Pence.

The case is a prime example of the duplicity of the Iranian regime, who at once claim to abide by the country’s constitution and does not imprison people for their beliefs, while persecuting Christians for practicing their faith.