After learning their appeals had been rejected, Kavian Fallah-Mohammadi, Amin Afshar-Naderi and Hadi Asgari (pictured l-r above) recently fled their homeland. Kavian had received a summons to report to prison while the other two knew their summons would come any day.
In July 2017, all three were sentenced for “acting against national security by organizing and conducting house-churches.” Amin received an extra five years after he also had been found guilty of blasphemy against Islam. For the last three years, they have worked to appeal their sentences.
“It took two years [after my arrest] in all before they summoned me for my last defense, when they made other serious accusations against me, which made my case even more severe, ” Kavian said. “Then, finally, the following year, they sentenced me to the 10 years in prison, and the delay in the process puts huge psychological pressure on you.
“Of course, we appealed the verdict, but, finally, after another three years, when no official trials took place, the appeal court approved the verdict—very strangely without a face-to-face hearing that my lawyer could have attended.”
The news of their escape comes two weeks after Christian pastor Victor bet-Tamraz and his wife Shamiram Issavi also fled Iran—only hours before 65-year-old Shamiram was to report to Evin Prison. Shortly after news of their escape broke, the couple’s daughter shared that her parents were safe.
Up against an iron fist
All five Christians were notified in early July that their appeals had been rejected. Kavian and Amin were arrested, together with pastor Bet-Tamraz, when they celebrated Christmas at his house in December 2014. Hadi was arrested in August 2016.
In a message to supporters around the world, Amin said they were safely relocated. He told Article 18 he missed his country a lot.
“Before prison, I had travelled to foreign countries many times, but I never decided to emigrate. Today, I am very sad that I have been forced to seek refuge in another country, no matter how much better the conditions may be there,” he said.
“I say with tears that, according to the teachings of the Bible, we tried to be good citizens in Iran and not to act against the law. But the government inflicted serious injuries upon us with an iron fist and such cruelty.
“We pray for the rulers, for those who harassed us, insulted and slandered us, humiliated and ridiculed us, tortured and destroyed us, harmed us and our families, confiscated our property. We pray for them and forgive them.”