Iran: Pastor Victor and Shamiram’s appeals rejected

Please pray for Pastor Victor (65) and his wife Shamiram (64), a Christian Iranian-Assyrian couple. They have been informed by their lawyer that appeals against their 10- and 5-year sentences, respectively, have been rejected. Shamiram has already been called to start her sentence.  

It was in July 2017, more than three years ago, that Victor Bet-Tamraz was sentenced to 10 years in prison, and over two and a half years since his wife, Shamiram, was given a five-year sentence. They have been charged for teaching Muslim converts about Christianity. 
 
Pastor Victor will celebrate his 66th birthday next month, and Shamiram turns 65 in December. 
 
Since their sentencing, the couple have been summoned to countless appeal hearings, only for them to be cancelled for a variety of reasons including failure to officially summon every defendant, the court being “too crowded”, and the assigning of a new judge to the case. 
 
Their last scheduled appeal hearing, on 1 June, was cancelled without excuse.

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Another seven weeks of uncertainty passed until, finally, on 19 July, Victor received a telephone call from his lawyer, informing him that his appeal had been rejected and no further hearing would take place.

It wasn’t immediately clear whether the same was true in Shamiram’s case, though the couple feared it would be, given that their cases had been officially merged by the new judge, Ahmad Zargar, in February 2019.

Finally, on August 11th, their worst fears were confirmed as Shamiram was summoned to Evin to begin her sentence. Their daughter, Dabrina, who now lives in Switzerland, has spoken repeatedly of her fears for her parents’ safety, should they be forced to endure time behind bars, especially given recent reports of a coronavirus outbreak in Tehran’s Evin Prison 

Iran has seen a record number of COVID-19 cases, and the government has pardoned and set free many prisoners. It was hoped that these believers would find favour with the authorities, and their cases would be pardoned or dismissed with a lenient prison time. 

Thank you for supporting Pastor Victor, his wife Shamiram, and others in prayer and for sending them letters and notes of encouragement. Please do continue to intercede for them. 

Please pray for strength for Pastor Victor and Shamiram to endure this time of trial. Pray also for their church and for their loved ones at this time who are grappling with this news. May they find peace 

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