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3 more sentenced Christians flee Iran—‘We pray for the rulers who tortured us’

September 18, 2020 by Global Christian Relief in Middle East

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.”

Christian prisoner exiled as part of extended sentence

Meanwhile, another Iranian Christian convert, Mohammad Reza (Youhan) Omidi, has left his home and family to serve the remainder of his sentence in exile in southern Iran.

Youhan served two years of his original 10-years prison sentence for “actions against national security” in Evin Prison before he was released a few weeks ago on August 18. While his original sentence was reduced in June, he is still required to complete the two years’ internal exile and live in the city of Borazjan, on the opposite side of the country—more than 600 miles from his home and family.

Preparing to leave again, he shared a powerful testimony: “I trust God in this, as I did for my imprisonment,” he said. “Many people, even those around me, consider it a time wasted in your life.  But seeing ourselves as a piece of the puzzle in the greater image God is creating, I gladly embrace this opportunity to go through this exile. My experience may help other Christians who will face similar exile sentences in the future.”