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Pastor, wife flee Iran to escape 15 years’ imprisonment for house church evangelism

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An Iranian pastor and his wife have fled the country after their appeals of yearslong prison sentences related to their involvement in a house church and evangelism were denied.

The Iranian human rights monitoring watchdog organization Article 18 reported Wednesday that Pastor Victor Bet-Tamraz and his wife, Shamiram Isavi, fled the Islamic Republic instead of turning themselves in to face a combined 15 years in prison.

The couple’s daughter, Dabrina, who met with President Donald Trump last year to advocate for her family members, confirmed that her parents have departed Iran. While she could not disclose their location, she assured Article 18 that they are “safe and well.”

Dabrina Bet Tamraz, who left Iran in the early 2010s, said her parents, who are in their mid-60s, plan to continue fighting their legal battle against Iranian authorities. The couple is determined to return to their home country should the Iranian court overturn their sentences.

“We continue to pray and hope for their sentences to be dropped,” the daughter said. “We pray for justice both for my parents and for all the believers suffering in prisons.”

Last month, Pastor Tamraz was informed that the appeal of his 10-year sentence for acting against national security by conducting house church meetings was denied and that he could no longer appeal the sentence he was given in 2017.

It is believed that Isavi also lost her appeal as she was ordered earlier this month to report to Iran’s notorious Evin Prison, where the regime is known to detain prisoners of conscience and political prisoners.

Isavi was sentenced to five years in prison in 2018 on charges of “membership of a group with the purpose of disrupting national security” and “gathering and colluding to commit crimes against national security.”

The charges brought against the couple have been condemned by human rights activists, as well as Vice President Mike Pence.

The couple’s son, Ramiel, was released from prison earlier this year after being sentenced to four months for participating in house churches.

“In 2009, Iranian authorities shut down Pastor Victor Bet-Tamraz’s church. But instead of fleeing the country, he continued to share the Good News,” Pence said during a speech at the U.S. State Department’s 2019 Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom. “Pastor Bet Tamraz and his family are an inspiration to freedom-loving people the world over.”

Tamraz is the pastor of a Pentecostal congregation in Tehran. In 2009, authorities forced him to shut down the church because he refused to only allow Assyrian-speaking people to be members of the congregation.

In Iran, it is illegal to operate a church in the country’s most common language of Farsi.

In 2014, Tamraz was arrested during a Christmas celebration along with two Christian converts — Amin Afshar-Naderi and Kavian Fallah-Mohammadi — all of whom spent 65 days in solitary confinement and were eventually released on bail.

The two converts were sentenced along with the pastor and a third convert named Hadi Asgari. Afshar-Naderi received a 15-year sentence while Asgari and Fallah-Mohammadi were sentenced to 10 years.

Article 18, a London-based nonprofit that raises awareness of religious freedom issues in Iran, confirmed that lawyers have notified all three converts that their appeals have been rejected.

In Iran, it is illegal for Christians to share the Gospel with Muslims. Open Doors USA, a global persecution watchdog organization, ranks Iran as the ninth-worst county when it comes to Christian persecution on its annual World Watch List.

That ranking comes as several house-churches were raided in the World Watch List 2020 reporting period — Nov. 1, 2018, to Oct. 31, 2019. During that period, Open Doors reports that at least 169 Christians were arrested in Iran.

Sources: Christian Post

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A woman has been arrested in Sweden for locking her son in an apartment for 28 years

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Stockholm: A mother in Sweden has been arrested on suspicion of locking her son inside their apartment for 28 years, leaving him undernourished and with almost no teeth, police and media reports said Tuesday.

“The mother is suspected of illegal deprivation of liberty and causing bodily harm,” Stockholm police spokesman Ola Osterling told.

He said the man had been “locked up for a very long time” in the apartment in a southern Stockholm suburb, but would not comment on reports in dailies news that he had been held for 28 years.

The reports said the mother had pulled her son out of school when he was 12 and kept him locked inside the apartment since then.

An unnamed relative found the now 41-year-old man on Sunday after the mother, in her 70s, had been taken to hospital, news reported.

The man had infected sores on his legs, could barely walk, had almost no teeth and limited speech ability, the reports said.

Osterling would not comment on those details, saying only: “The man is in hospital. His injuries are not life-threatening.”

The mother has denied the crimes, the Swedish Prosecution Authority said.

‘Urine, dirt and dust’

Doctors at the hospital had alerted police to the case.

Police tape was stretched across the apartment’s door on Tuesday, and crime scene technicians were seen leaving the scene around midday, an AFP photographer said.

The apartment is located in a non-descript grey and yellow low-rise building in the working class suburb of Handen in Haninge municipality.

The unidentified relative who found the man said the apartment looked like it had not been cleaned in years.

“There was urine, dirt and dust. It smelled rotten,” she told Expressen, adding that she had to wade through piles of junk to get through the hallways.

“No one could have cleaned that home for many years.”

“I’m in shock, brokenhearted, but at the same time relieved. I’ve been waiting for this day for 20 years because I figured out that she was totally controlling his life, but I never imagined the extent of it,” she said.

“I knew he was there and that he must be scared because his mother was his only sense of security and now she was gone,” she added.

There was no immediate explanation for the mother’s alleged actions.

“She stole his life from him and manipulated the people around her in order to keep her secret,” the relative said.

“I’m just thankful that he got help and is going to survive.”

One unidentified neighbour, who lived in the same building, told Aftonbladet that she ran into the man at a nearby grocery store a few months ago.

“I know who you are, you’re my neighbour,” the man had told her, recognising her after having seen her through the window, she said.

‘How could no one have noticed?’

But most others in the neighbourhood told local media they hadn’t seen the man for years.

“They almost never went outside, never even opened the windows for fresh air. It’s been holed up,” another woman from the building told Aftonbladet.

Many neighbours wondered why neither social services, the school nor any other authority ever checked in on the boy over the years.

“And when we’ve had renovations done in the building, how can no one have noticed? Workmen have been here,” one woman told Aftonbladet.

Another woman said she occasionally ran into the mother.

“We talked about small stuff, like you do. Sometimes I asked about the boy, and she just said he was fine, she never really talked about him,” she said.

She however added that she found it odd that their window was never open, and the same candlestick had been in the window for 30 years.

“But what can you do? How do you know what’s going on behind closed doors? It’s all so awful, you can’t believe it’s true,” she said.

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യേശുവിനെ തള്ളിപറയാഞ്ഞതിനു പാസ്റ്ററെയും രണ്ടു കുഞ്ഞുങ്ങളെയും ഉഗാണ്ടയിൽ സുവിശേഷവിരോധികൾ കൊലപ്പെടുത്തി

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കിബുക്കു: രാജ്യത്ത് നടന്ന ദാരുണമായ സംഭവം പാസ്റ്ററുടെയും രണ്ട് ക്രിസ്ത്യൻ കുട്ടികളുടെയും മരണത്തിലേക്ക് നയിച്ചു
പാസ്റ്ററുടെ ഒപ്പമുണ്ടായിരുന്ന ഇമ്മാനുവൽ ഹമുസ പറയുന്നതിങ്ങനെ: “നവംബർ 23 ന് അവരെ പാസ്റ്റരെ നേരിട്ടു. തന്റെ ക്രിസ്തീയ വിശ്വാസം ഉപേക്ഷിക്കണമെന്ന് അവർ ആവശ്യപ്പെട്ടു. പാസ്റ്റർ വിസമ്മതിച്ചതിനെത്തുടർന്ന്, സഹോദര-സഹോദരിമാരും പിതൃ അമ്മാവനും കിബുക്കു ജില്ലയിലെ വീടിന് പുറത്ത് പാസ്റ്റരെ ആക്രമിച്ചതായി മോണിംഗ് സ്റ്റാർ ന്യൂസ് റിപ്പോർട്ട് ചെയ്യുന്നു.

“ഞങ്ങളുടെ കുടുംബത്തിന് അപമാനമായ ഈ ക്രിസ്തീയ വിശ്വാസം നിങ്ങൾ ഉപേക്ഷിക്കണം” എന്ന് പറഞ്ഞ് അഞ്ച് കുടുംബാംഗങ്ങൾ അദ്ദേഹത്തെ തല്ലുകയും കുത്തുകയും ചെയ്തു, ഹമുസ വിശദീകരിച്ചു.

“അവരുടെ ആവശ്യത്തിന് വഴങ്ങാൻ ഞാൻ വിസമ്മതിച്ചു, അവർ എന്നോട് യുദ്ധം ചെയ്യാൻ തുടങ്ങി,” ഹമുസ പറഞ്ഞു. “മറ്റ് ആക്രമണകാരികൾ എന്റെ കുട്ടിയുടെ കഴുത്തിൽ കാലുകുത്തി നിൽക്കുമ്പോൾ ശ്വാസം മുട്ടി ദാരുണാവസ്ഥയിലായി.”
വൈദ്യസഹായം ലഭിക്കുന്നതിന് മുമ്പ് ഹമുസയുടെ ആറുവയസ്സുള്ള മകൻ മരിച്ചു. ഭാവിയിൽ കുറ്റവാളികളുടെ ആക്രമണത്തെ ഭയന്ന് ഭയാനകമായ സംഭവം പോലീസിനെ അറിയിച്ചിട്ടില്ല.

പാസ്റ്റർ വിൽസൺ നിവമന്യയും 12 വയസ്സുള്ള മകനും ഒരു ക്രിസ്ത്യൻ വിശ്വാസിയും നവംബർ 21 തീവ്രവാദികൾ അവരുടെ അടുത്തെത്തിയപ്പോൾ ഡെമോക്രാറ്റിക് റിപ്പബ്ലിക്ക് ഓഫ് കോംഗോയ്ക്ക് മതപരമായ രചനകൾ നൽകി,മൂർച്ചയേറിയ വസ്തുക്കളും സോമാലിയൻ വാളും ഉപയോഗിച്ച് തീവ്രവാദികൾ ആയുധധാരികളാണെന്ന് തൊഴിലാളി പറഞ്ഞു.

“ നമ്മുടെ മതത്തെ അവഹേളിച്ചതിന് ഈ മനുഷ്യൻ മരിക്കണം ”എന്ന് തൊഴിലാളി ഒരു മോർണിംഗ് സ്റ്റാർ ന്യൂസിനോട് പറഞ്ഞു. ആക്രമണകാരികൾ മൂർച്ചയേറിയ വസ്തുക്കളാൽ അടിച്ചുകൊണ്ടാണ് തുടങ്ങിയത്, തുടർന്ന് വാൾ ഉപയോഗിച്ച് കുട്ടിയെ വയറ്റിൽ കുത്തുകയായിരുന്നു. പാസ്റ്ററും ഞാനും ആക്രമണകാരികളുമായി പ്രതിരോധിക്കാൻ ശ്രമിക്കുന്നതിനിടയിലാണ് അദ്ദേഹം മരിച്ചത്” അദ്ദേഹം കൂട്ടിച്ചേർത്തു
അക്രമികൾ ഓടി രക്ഷപ്പെട്ടു, പാസ്റ്റർ നിവമന്യയെ കിസോറോയിലെ ഒരു മെഡിക്കൽ സൗകര്യത്തിലേക്ക് അതിവേഗം കൊണ്ടുപോയി. തലയ്ക്ക് പരിക്കേറ്റ അദ്ദേഹം നവംബർ 24 ന് മരിച്ചു.

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യേശുവിനെ തള്ളിപറയാഞ്ഞതിനു പാസ്റ്ററെയും രണ്ടു കുഞ്ഞുങ്ങളെയും ഉഗാണ്ടയിൽ സുവിശേഷവിരോധികൾ കൊലപ്പെടുത്തി

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