Pastor’s son Ramiel Bet Tamraz was summoned to Iran’s Evin Prison, notorious for its harsh conditions, on 7 January to begin a jail sentence for “acting against national security”.
The 35-year-old was given a four-month sentence, although the one month he has already spent in detention will be deducted from the time he serves.
Ramiel’s sister Dabrina said he was “staying strong for everybody” but that the prison term will be very hard on his wife, Ninebra, his father Pastor Victor Bet Tamraz and mother Shamiram, who are themselves awaiting appeal against lengthy prison sentences.
Ramiel was initially arrested in August 2016, when security officials interrupted a gathering of Christian families enjoying a picnic in Firuzkuh, north of Tehran. He and four Christian convert friends were detained in Evin Prison, where they were held in solitary confinement for long periods and subjected to intense interrogation.
Pastor Victor and Shamiram were first arrested on 26 December 2014. In July 2017, the pastor was sentenced to ten years in prison for “acting against national security” by organising and conducting house churches and Shamiram was given a five-year sentence.
Pastor Victor led a Pentecostal Assyrian church in Tehran before it was closed for worshipping in Farsi, the language spoken by most Iranians. Christian worship in Farsi is often targeted by authorities in their efforts to discourage the conversion of Muslims to Christianity. Assyrian Christians are normally expected to worship in the Assyrian language, which is not understood by Muslim Iranians.
Barnabas Fund, barnabasfund.org