Armenian Christian Faces Ten-Year Sentence

Armenian Christian Faces Ten-Year Sentence

Hakop Gochumyan
Hakop Gochumyan
Photo: Article18

Hakop Gochumyan and his wife Elisa are citizens of Armenia who went to Iran for vacation in August 2023. While the Christian couple and their two children were having dinner at a friend's house, agents from the Ministry of Intelligence raided the property. The authorities took the Christian family to the home of Elisa's grandmother, where the believers had been staying, and proceeded to search the residence. During the raid, Christian books and other personal belongings were confiscated. The couple was then taken to Evin Prison where they faced interrogation and intense psychological torture.

Elisa was released on bail as of October 19th, allowing her to return to Armenia with the children. Hakop, however, remained in prison and was charged with "engaging in deviant proselytising activity." The only pieces of evidence against him were seven Farsi New Testaments that had been found in his possession, along with the fact that he had visited two Armenian churches and a Farsi-speaking house church while in Iran.

The Iranian penal code allows judges to use "personal intuition" when evidence is lacking. According to Hakop's lawyer, this was the case in the trial against the Armenian Christian visitor. As a result, Hakop was sentenced to ten years in prison this February, but the verdict was not publicly reported at the time. In early June, it had been announced that his appeal was unsuccessful and that he would be forced to serve the imposed sentence.

While Armenian and Assyrian Christian minorities are officially allowed to practise their faith in Iran, evangelism among the country's Muslims and Farsi-speaking majority is forbidden. Elisa happens to be the daughter of Rafi Shahverdian, a well-known Armenian-Iranian pastor who had left Iran in 1993 and led a church in Armenia until his death last year. For more reports on Christian persecution in Iran, see our country report.

Prayerfully uphold Hakop as he faces the prospect of extended time in a notoriously known Iranian prison. May this brother in Christ receive greatly needed strength and encouragement through the ministry of God's Holy Spirit. Pray also for Elisa and the couple's two children, asking that they would tangibly experience the Lord's love, comfort and provision during this time of separation as a family. Continue to pray on behalf of the many other believers who are currently imprisoned or facing various forms of persecution in Iran because of their Christian faith. May the Lord also empower them spiritually, emotionally and physically so they may persevere and serve as effective witnesses of His great compassion for the spiritually lost and those in need of His abiding presence.

  • Current Ministry Fund

    By funding television broadcasts, VOMC is making it possible for a vast audience of viewers to be reached throughout Iran with the "Good News" of Jesus' love via satellite.

    Project Fund: Underground Church

  • Country Information


    87,590,873 (2023 est.)

    Persian, Azeri, Kurd, Lur, Baloch, Arab, Turkmen and Turkic tribes

    Religion (%)
    Islam (98.5), Christian (0.7), Baha'i (0.3), agnostic (0.3), other (0.2)

    Ayatollah Ali Hoseini-Khamenei (1989)

    Government type
    Theocratic republic

    Legal system
    Religious legal system based on secular and Islamic law

    Source: CIA World Factbook

  • Pray for Iran

    As the Gospel message goes forth over the airwaves, may the growth of the church continue to multiply despite persecution. Pray that the Iranian government will be open to change, allowing full rights and protection for its non-Muslim citizens as well. In the meantime, may those who are forced to flee the country find safe refuge and help so they can live in peace and worship the Lord with freedom.

Iran News