Former Pastor of Pentecostal Church Released From Prison in Iran along with Two Other Believers FeaturedWritten by Michael Ireland
TEHRAN, IRAN (ANS, March 13, 2015) – Mohabat News (www.mohabatnews.com) reports that a former pastor of Shahr-Ara Pentecostal Church of Tehran and two Christian converts have been released on bail.
According to the Mohabat News report, plain-clothed security authorities had arrested them last Christmas.
During their time in jail, they were subjected to intense interrogation and were held in solitary confinement.
The news agency says Assyrian pastor, Victor Bet-Tamarz and two Christian converts were arrested as they were celebrating Christmas, on December 26, 2014 in a residential house in northwestern Tehran. All three were eventually released on bail from Evin prison.
Mohabat News says of the three detainees, Amin Afshar Naderi was first released on February 10, 2015 after posting a heavy bail of 100 million Tomans (Approx. $40,000 USD). Mr. Naderi spent 36 days in jail, of which he spent 30 days in solitary confinement. After his release, intelligence officers summoned him once to an unofficial building for additional interrogation. Mr. Naderi is 26 years old and is an employee of the private sector.
The other Christian convert arrested with Pastor Victor is Kavian Fallah Mohammadi. He was released one week after Mr. Naderi on a bail equal to Mr. Naderi's. Iranian authorities explained that the reason for this one-week delay between these releases is that Mr. Mohammadi is a resident of a northern province and the submission of a title deed to the Revolutionary Court from those provinces takes some time. During this one week only was he transferred out of solitary confinement and into the general ward of Evin prison.
Mohabat News says Pastor Victor Ben-Tamarz was released several days later on March 1, 2015, after enduring 65 days in prison. His release was also made possible by posting an expensive property title deed. All these individuals are only free until the day of their trial. Despite Pastor Victor's old age, he spent most of his jail time in solitary confinement and suffered from numerous health problems. He is still suffering from health problems caused during his incarceration in Evin prison.
Mohabat News explained that all three Christian men are now waiting to be summoned to court for their trial and are banned from all Christian activities until that time.
Pastor Victor Bet-Tamarz is the former pastor of the Shahr-Ara Pentecostal Church in Tehran. He served God at that church for more than three decades. In addition to his ministry among Assyrians, he was active among Farsi-speaking Iranians as well. He held Farsi services at his church until security authorities shut them down and dismissed him as the pastor of the church on March 31, 2009. The Assyrian member of Iranian Parliament (Majles), played a key role in the cancellation of Farsi services and dismissal of Pastor Victor.
Pastor Victor, his wife, their son, as well as 12 Christian converts had gathered on December 26, 2014 to celebrate Christmas, when plain-clothed security authorities raided their meeting. The authorities disrupted the celebration and put them all in custody.
All of the detainees, except three, were released after a written interrogation and signing a disclaimer on the spot. The three who weren't released, namely Pastor Victor and two Christian converts, Amin Afshar Naderi and Kavian Fallah Mohammadi, were transferred to Evin prison immediately.
Mohabat News says that reports indicate after their transfer to Evin prison, their heads were shaved in the same way as convicted criminals, and they were taken to solitary cells. They were subjected to several interrogation sessions and held under custody for a long period of time before being officially charged.
Even their families did not have a clear understanding of their situation for a lengthy time.
Mohabat News went on to explain that after Pastor Victor Bet-Tamarz's case was publicized, the British Foreign Office, in a statement, expressed its concern over the continuation of the imprisonment of Pastor Bet-Tamarz and the two Christian converts. The statement expressed the deep concern of the British government over the continuing oppression and harassment of Iranian religious minorities, including Christians, by the Iranian government. It also mentioned that the British government and international community expect the Iranian regime to adhere to international conventions with regards to freedom of religion and freedom of speech, of which it is a signatory.
Evin Prison (Persian: زندان اوین Zendān Evin) is a prison in Iran, located in Evin, northwestern Tehran. It is noted for its political prisoners' wing, where prisoners have been held both before and after the 1979 Islamic Revolution. Due to the number of intellectuals that the prison housed, it was nicknamed "Evin University".
Photo: Evin House of Detention (via Wikipedia).
Note: Please feel free to re-publish this and any of our ANS stories with attribution to the ASSIST News Service (www.assistnews.net)