Dabrina Bet-Tamraz

Speech at a United Nations Religious Freedom Event

delivered 23 September 2019, New York, NY

Audio AR-XE mp3 of Address


[AUTHENTICITY CERTIFIED: Text version below transcribed directly from audio]

My name is Dabrina Bet-Tamraz.

I’m an Assyrian from Iran.

My family has been a target of continuous harassment by the Iranian authorities for as long as I can remember. Today, my close relatives and friends are unjustly imprisoned or awaiting trials.

On 26th of December, 2014, security officers raided my family’s home during a Christmas celebration, arresting all attendees. The authorities separated men from women, conducting strip searches, seizing all the Bibles, and confiscating all personal items such as cell phones, laptops, and identification documents.

My father was imprisoned immediately. They shaved his head to humiliate him, treated him like a terrorist, a criminal. He was kept in solitary confinement for 65 days and was charged with conducting evangelism and illegal house church activities, among other false charges that amounted to acting against national security.

Today, my father, Pastor Victor Bet-Tamraz, is appealing a 10-year prison sentence. Following his arrest, my brother Ramiel and four other Christians were arrested at a picnic in Tehran. Today, he is appealing four months in prison.

Finally, in 2017, my mother, Shamiram Issavi, was arrested and interrogated by the intelligence and national security officers for hours. She was forced to provide informations [sic] about our church and was sentenced to five years in prison.

When I was in Iran, I endured sim[ilar] experiences. I was detained and held in men’s detention center without the presence of any female officers. I was forced to provide names of our church leaders and information of their
activities. I managed to escape, but I can’t forget those I left behind: my family and the innocent people serving harsh sentences for the peaceful practice of their faith.

Since 2018, more than 200 Christians have been arrested and are serving harsh sentences. They are either now in prison serving lengthy prison sentences or awaiting trials. Christians in Iran are no politicians or activists of some sort, including my family. They’re simply believers attending prayer and worship gathering.

In addition to Christians, other faiths including Baha’is, Sunni Muslims, and Sufis also face discrimination and severe restriction to the freedom of religion.

I implore the international community gathered here to hold Iran accountable for its mistreatment of religious freedom and prioritize religious freedom as a foundational human right for all. Every person has a right to live out their faith in safety, peace, and dignity.

Thank you.

Thank you, Secretary.

About the speaker: Dabrina Bet-Tamraz is an Assyrian pastor and human rights activist [Source: https://www.assyrianpolicy.org/post/dabrina-bet-tamraz-testimony-at-u-s-state-department-ministerial]

Original Text Source: State.gov

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Page Updated: 9/26/19

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