Iran: Pray with 10 Christian prisoners awaiting appeal verdicts

May 13, 2020 by Lindy Lowry in Middle East

A total of 10 Iranian Christians are waiting on verdicts for their appeals expected in the coming days and weeks. Since the COVID-19 pandemic struck prisons in Iran—becoming a coronavirus hotbed—the country has released more than 80,000 prisoners, including seven Christians serving short-term sentences. Christian political prisoners serving long-term sentences remain incarcerated—and at risk for contracting the virus.

 

Pictured above (left to right): Victor Bet-Tamraz, his wife Shamiram, Kavian Fallah-Mohammadi, Amin Afshar-Naderi, and Hadi Asgari.

In March, the UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in Iran called for the release of all prisoners of conscience to reduce the potential spread of the virus.

Families of the four Christian converts serving 10-year sentences in Tehran’s notorious Evin Prison for “actions against national security,” told Article18 they expect to receive the verdicts of retrials for Nasser Navard Gol-Tapeh, 58, Yousef Nadarkhani, 42, Saheb Fadaei, 36, and Yohan Omidi, 46.

All four men have made several requests for release on bail; their families have grown increasingly anxious about their current conditions in the wake of the pandemic. Nasser and Saheb have also suffered health issues in prison.

Recently, authorities denied Saheb medical treatment, despite experiencing fever and hallucinations. Nasser was granted a retrial last month after being denied one in October 2019.

Waiting for June 1

The next scheduled appeal hearing in the case of a house church pastor, Victor Bet-Tamraz, and his wife Shamiram, is slated for June 1. Additionally, three Christian converts Kavian Fallah-Mohammadi, Amin Afshar-Naderi and Hadi Asgari are also waiting for their hearing, also on June 1.

A 65-year-old Iranian Christian convert, Ismaeil Maghrebinejad, is still waiting on the result of a separate appeal against a three-year sentence for “insulting Islamic beliefs.” Following a court hearing on February 27 of this year, Ismaeil—a Christian for now 40 years—was sentenced to an additional two years in prison for “membership of a group hostile to the regime.” The court document detailed that the “hostile” group espoused “Evangelical Zionist Christianity.”

Pray with our Iranian brothers and sisters

Father, we come to you interceding for our brothers and sisters, their families and their churches. We thank You for their commitment to share Your story and to lead others to know You, as well. Please continue to protect them as they await their verdicts. Give them Your peace that transcends their understanding, as Your Word says. God, give them boldness and discernment to continue to stand for You and lead Your church. Ultimately, we pray for the release of those in prison and for the overturn of their convictions in these appeal hearings. In Your Son’s name we pray…

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