An Iranian pastor and his wife have been forced to flee the country after losing their appeal against convictions related to their ministry activities.
Pastor Victor Bet-Tamraz and his wife Shamiram Issavi had recently lost their legal challenges, with Victor appealing a ten-year prison sentence, and Shamiram was appealing a five-year prison sentence, issued in relation to charges of "illegal house church activities” and “threatening national security.” Shamiram had received an official summons to report to Evin Prison when the couple fled on 15th August.
International Christian Concern (ICC) reports that their case presided over by Judge Ahmed Zarga, who regularly sides with the government in its prosecution of believers.
Claire Evans, ICC's regional manager for the Middle East, said: “Iran’s government has made it clear that it has no respect for religious freedom, nor the dignity of human life. Leaving one’s home is an incredibly painful process, and not one that is taken lightly. While we are glad that Pastor Victor and his wife Shamiram are safe, we are also saddened by the circumstances which compelled them to leave.
"We also must remember that the Iranian government is not the same as the Iranian people. The authorities want to dictate the conscience of every citizen, and that does not sit well with many Iranians. Every human rights violation committed by the government is a violation felt in some way across the entire country. We keep Iran in our prayers, as well as the Bet-Tamraz family, that they may find peace, safety, security, and freedom of conscience.”