5. Dabrina Bet Tamraz — Christian (Iran)
Dabrina Bet Tamraz is the daughter of Iranian Pastor Victor Bet Tamraz, who led a Farsi-language church in Iran until it was shut down in 2009. In 2017, the Tehran Revolutionary Guard sentenced her father to 10 years in prison for the crime of “acting against national security by forming home churches, attending seminars abroad and proselytizing Zionist Christianity.”
Tamraz’s mother, Shamiram Isavi, was also sentenced to five years in prison for similar charges.
Her brother, Ramiel Bet Tamraz, was sentenced to four months in prison for “spreading Christian propaganda.”
“In 2016, my brother was arrested during a picnic gathering. In 2017, my mother was arrested,” she told reporters. “Today, my father is appealing a 10-year prison sentence, my mother is appealing a five-year prison sentence, and my brother has already done two months and we are awaiting the rest of his sentence.”
Tamraz is speaking out on behalf of her Assyrian Christian family and other Christians imprisoned in Pakistan for their faith or for owning a Bible.
“Growing up as Christians in Iran, we experienced different forms of harassment and persecution,” she told reporters. “When I was 8 years old, many pastors were imprisoned and killed. … The persecution and limit to religious freedom was a normal thing for us growing up. To be honest, we didn’t know what it means to be free until I lived in a European country.”
Tamraz said that when the church was shut down in 2009, she was arrested and detained at a men’s detention center without any female officer present.
“I was able to escape after my release. Shortly after, my father was arrested during a Christmas celebration in December 2014. He was detained and put in solitary confinement for 65 days in a 3 feet by 6 feet room which was very dirty and full of insects,” she said. “He got an infection in his lungs and his teeth and his ears. At times he went without any human [contact] for over 10 days.”
Tamraz told reporters that many other Assyrian Christians and Christian converts are serving lengthy prison sentences in Iran and have no voice to be heard.
“They have no rights in our country,” she said. “I am standing here today to raise awareness.”
Tamraz also met with Trump in the White House and asked the president to raise the issue facing her family and other Christians in Iran when negotiating with Iran in the future. Trump said he would and asked for her information.