The persecuted Iranian Christian woman, Dabrina Bet Tamraz, explained in detail the situation of Iranian Christians being persecuted and how their family church was closed during the panel discussion of the Family Research Council(FRC) held in Washington D.C. on Feb. 5.
At the time, Tamraz's family received a call from the government on March 30, 2009 that they wanted to meet Victor Bet Tamraz, her father and pastor, she explained. A few days later, government officials asked to pastor Victor to "give up the keys" of the church or allow only those who speak Assyrian to enter the church.
In response, the Tamraz family and church members asked for time to pray about what decisions to make and hours later, her father handed the church key to a government official, Tamraz said.
According to Tamraz, the father told them "Thank you very much. You have done us a great favor. We don't know how to thank you. Please close down the church," And the official looked at him and said, "Are you crazy? Why are you saying thank you?" my father said, "While we were praying, the congregation heard from God that if they allow the authorities to close down the church, He will "open the gates of Heaven"." In response, Tamraz said his father joyfully gave him the key.
While Tamraz's parents, brothers and dozens of church members are still in jail, she herself was arrested in 2009 and held in a men's detention center before escaping Iran. She lives in Switzerland, where she is currently engaged in an international campaign to demand her parents' release.
"Today, there is not a free church. There is no free evangelical church, nor free Pentecostal," she said. "The only churches that are allowed to function are orthodox or Catholic churches with restrictions. They are not allowed to have books in Farsi. They are not even allowed to, nowadays, print books in our own language. Any Christian literature or Bible even in our own language is not permitted. They are not even allowed to speak to a Farsi person near the church."
In addition, Iran's intelligence service closely monitors Christian activities: "They go everywhere Christians gather, raid and arrest homes, restaurants and confiscate belongings and houses. They are also tortured physically and mentally very hard," Tamraz said.
Tamraz said, "her family was also under surveillance at the time, her house was breached and her father was regularly arrested." "Her family always had to be prepared to preach in case her father was arrested."
At least 25 Christians were arrested in Iran in 2019 and at least 13 Christians were sentenced to four months and five years in prison for committing acts against national security, according to Article 18 of the Human Rights Watch, a human rights watchdog.
According to Tamraz, dozens of other Christians who were previously convicted are still awaiting their court hearings. Most of these Christians were arrested, sentenced and prosecuted for their actions, mainly against national security. They lack due process in the trial," she pointed out.
She continued, "On the 24th of February in a few weeks, [my parents] will face their final court hearing, if it takes place," "We do really pray that their sentence will be dropped and they can practice their faith in peace and dignity and in freedom as the ought to."
Meanwhile, Iran, which is dominated by Islamic law, ranks the Open Doors USA as the ninth most serious country in the world's Christian persecutions, as it mercilessly persecuted Muslims who converted to Christianity.