Serving Persecuted Christians Worldwide - Update: Iranian church leaders flee Iran just in time - Open Doors UK & Ireland
19 August 2020

Update: Iranian church leaders flee Iran just in time

Please continue to pray for Pastor Victor and Shamiram as they fight to get their sentences dropped outside of Iran.

Praise God! Pastor Victor and Shamiram fled Iran on Saturday, just hours before Shamiram was due to begin her five-year prison sentence.

The couple’s daughter, Dabrina, told Article18 that her parents are ‘safe and well’. The family will continue their fight to get the sentences dropped. 

Please continue to pray for justice for the couple, and for all those serving unjust prison sentences in Iran. 

Source of information: Article18

19 August 2020

Prison sentence appeals rejected for Iranian church leaders

Being a pastor’s wife is just as dangerous as being a pastor in many parts of the world. Shamiram Isavi Khabizeh knows that better than anyone: she has been called to Evin Prison in Tehran – where there have been reports of a coronavirus outbreak – to begin a prison sentence. Like her husband, Pastor Victor Bet Tamraz, her long-awaited appeal has been rejected. 

Pastor Victor and Shamiram

Pastor Victor and Shamiram were arrested for 'illegal house church activities'

It’s been more than three years since Pastor Victor (65) was sentenced to 10 years in prison, and over two and a half years since Shamiram (64) was given a five-year sentence; they have been out on bail since.  

The couple have faced an arduous process to even get their appeals heard – they were summoned to numerous 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 (1 June) was cancelled without a reason being given. 

Pastor Victor was arrested with two members of his church in 2014 as they celebrated Christmas together. The government had already closed the Tehran Pentecostal Assyrian Church, which he led, in 2009. He was found guilty of ‘conducting evangelism’ and ‘illegal house-church activities’, among other charges, and given a 10-year prison sentence.   

Shamiram is appealing against a sentence for acting against national security and against the regime ‘by organising small groups, attending a seminary abroad and training church leaders and pastors to act as spies’.   

An ongoing injustice

The arrest and imprisonment of Christians in Iran – particularly those from a Muslim background – is an ongoing injustice.  

Earlier this month, four believers were given heavy prison sentences for accusations very similar to Pastor Victor and Shamiram’s: ‘acting against national security’, ‘attending home churches’ and ‘spreading Zionist Christianity’. All four were arrested in February for being part of a house church in Rasht. 

Ramin Hassanpour was sentenced to five-years’ imprisonment and Hadi (Moslem) Rahimi was given four years. Ramin’s wife, Saeede (Kathrin) Sajadpour, and Sakine (Mehri) Behjati each received two-year sentences. 

They will appeal the sentences. 

Iran is number 9 on the World Watch List. Open Doors supports the church in Iran through partners – as well as trauma training, this is done through distributing Bibles and other Christian literature online, advocacy for those in prison and various forms of training. 

Sources of information in this article: Article18 and Middle East Concern (MEC) 

Please pray
  • For Pastor Victor and Shamiram and their family, that God will strengthen and comfort them
  • That the appeals for Ramin, Moslem, Kathrin and Mehri will be successful
  • That Iranian authorities will uphold the rights of Iranian Christian converts and other religious minorities.
Send hope


Want to encourage our persecuted church family in the Middle East? Send them a message!

Share this story

Get involved

Your support helps persecuted Christians continue to courageously follow Jesus.
Together, we can reach those where persecution hits hardest.