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Two Years, but Still Praying for Pastor Saeed imprisoned In Iran
ICC to Join Thousands in Calling for the Release of Imprisoned American-Iranian Pastor
09/19/2014 Washington, D.C. (International Christian Concern) – International Christian Concern (ICC) joins with thousands of Christians around the world to call for the release of American-Iranian Pastor Saeed Abedini. September 26, 2014 marks two years since Pastor Saeed was taken to an Iranian prison. He is serving an eight year prison sentence for his work among Iranian house churches in the early 2000s. One week from today, thousands are expected to gather at more than 460 prayer vigils in over 30 countries spanning the globe to mark the two year anniversary of his imprisonment.
“Saeed was encouraged to know that so many cities and countries are gathering for a prayer vigil to remember him and the persecuted church on September 26,” Naghmeh, Saeed’s mother, said following her recent visit mother to the prison where he is being held in Karaj, Iran. “Thank you for all who are standing with us and the persecuted church. Thank you for bringing a smile to Saeed’s face during such hard times.”
Since his imprisonment, Saeed has been subjected to long periods of solitary confinement and physical abuse. He is believed to be suffering from internal injuries that continue to go untreated and are causing him severe pain.
Saeed’s case has been raised before numerous international groups including the UN Human Rights Council which has released a report documenting his arbitrary detention. “The report details how Pastor Saeed was detained in Iran while finalizing the details of a government approved orphanage in July 2012, was subjected to a sham trial on charges related solely to his religious beliefs, and has spent nearly two years behind bars, enduring periods of solitary confinement and brutal beatings, because of his Christian faith,” Jordan Sekulow of the American Center for Law and Justice said of the report adopted by the working group on Arbitrary Detention at its August 2013 session.
On September 27, 2013, one day after prayer vigils marking the first anniversary of Saeed’s imprisonment, President Obama raised Saeed’s case in his “historic phone call” with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani. The Iranian President will again be in the United States next week for the UN General Assembly. While no meeting is currently planned for the two presidents, Secretary of State John Kerry is expected to meet with Foreign Minister Javad Zarif, presenting an opportunity for the Secretary to directly address Saeed’s case with his Iranian counterpart.
As U.S. and Iranian officials continue to negotiate regarding Iran’s nuclear program ahead of the November 24 deadline, the freedom of American citizens who are unjustly imprisoned in Iran should certainly be part of the concerns for the United States.
For times and locations of the prayer vigils visit: www.beheardproject.com
Todd Daniels, ICC Regional Manager for the Middle East, said, “We are privileged to join with thousands who will exercise their fundamental right of religious freedom by gathering to pray together, an act that, for Saeed Abedini and many more in Iran and around the world, would put them in prison. In a time when Christians around the world are facing increasing persecution, the church cannot remain silent. We urge Christians across the United States and around the world to gather and raise their voices to God on behalf of Saeed and others facing similar abuses and to raise their voice before world leaders and call for the freedom for all people to worship freely without fear of imprisonment or persecution. For Secretary Kerry, we urge him to directly address Saeed’s case with Minister Zarif and ask him to follow through on offers of clemency that he said may be possible for Saeed.”
UN panel raps Iran over imprisonment of Christian pastor Saeed Abedini
By Lisa Daftari/Published September 18, 2014/FoxNews.com
ited Nations panel this week blasted Iran’s continued imprisonment of American citizen Saeed Abedini, who is serving an eight-year prison term in the Islamic republic for practicing his faith.
Abedini, 34, of Boise, Idaho, “has been deprived of his liberty for peacefully exercising the rights to freedom of religion, belief, and association,” said the report, from United Nations Human Rights Council Working Group on Arbitrary Detention. The report comes just a week before leaders from around the world, including Iran, gather for the annual UN General Assembly in New York, and ahead of the Sept. 26 two-year anniversary of Abedini’s jailing.
The six-page document detailed Abedini’s plight and called for his immediate release. His wife, Naghmeh Abedini, who remains home with their two children, has pleaded with lawmakers and the White House to pressure Iran. She told FoxNews.com she believes the UN stance could go a long way toward bringing Saeed Abedini home.
“From the depths of my heart, I urge the member countries of the UN to act on the recommendations of this report.”
– Naghmeh Abedini, wife of imprisoned pastor
“There are times where your cause feels forgotten — but today is not one of those days,” she said. “From the depths of my heart, I urge the member countries of the UN to act on the recommendations of this report. As these countries sit face-to-face with Iran during the upcoming UN General Assembly, I plead with them to ask for my husband’s release. It is time for our family to be re-united. My children need their father and I need my husband.”
Abedini was arrested in 2009, but released after pledging to stop formally organizing house churches in Iran. When he returned to Iran in 2012 to help build a state-run, secular orphanage, police pulled him off a bus and imprisoned him.
Over the last two years, Abedini has endured long stints in solitary confinement, and, according to his attorneys, beatings and torture at the hands of his jailers and fellow inmates. For months, he has been denied proper medical attention for his injuries, according to his family and attorneys.
“This formal opinion recognizes the arbitrary nature of Pastor Saeed’s imprisonment — an imprisonment that the group declared violated numerous provisions of international covenants to which Iran obligated itself,” said Jordan Sekulow, executive director of the American Center for Law & Justice, which represents the Abedini family.
“Iran is at a critical juncture on the world scene, and it is time that Iran take a step of good faith and release Pastor Saeed in accordance with the UN’s recommendation,” Sekulow said.
More than a decade ago, Abedini began working as a Christian leader and community organizer developing Iran’s underground home church communities for Christian converts who are forbidden from praying in public churches. After spending months imprisoned without any notice of charges, Abedini was sentenced in January 2013 to eight years in prison, as his family and attorneys continue to press the State Department and other public and private groups to help win his release.
There has been wide bipartisan support in the Senate and Congress, with lawmakers calling for the pastor’s immediate release.
Last year, Abedini’s attorneys filed an appeal to overturn or shorten his prison sentence but the court denied the petition.
Many have criticized Western leaders for not pressing more forcefully for Abedini’s release, along with the two other Americans, former U.S. Marine Amir Hekmati and former CIA operative Robert Levinson, to be released as part of the ongoing nuclear deal with the Iranian government.
President Obama raised the issue of Abedini in his historical phone call with Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani in September of last year as he left the UN and headed back to Tehran, but did not make it a condition for dropping U.S.-led economic sanctions imposed over Iran’s nuclear weapons program.
**Lisa Daftari is a Fox News contributor specializing in Middle Eastern affairs.
Serious setback: Pastor Saeed Abedini belongs in US, not in brutal Iranian prison
By Jay Sekulow
Published May 22, 2014
Saeed Abedini is an Iranian-American Christian pastor who was arrested in the summer of 2012 for apostasy and evangelizing and imprisoned in the the brutal Evin Prison. Abedini and his family have maintained that he was only there helping to set up an orphanage that was actually sponsored by the regime government. Supporters have alleged that the State Department has not done enough to ensure his release. (ACLJ)
It happened without warning.
Tuesday, a heavily-armed contingent of Iranian guards stormed a private hospital in Tehran. The guards came for one purpose – to forcibly remove American Pastor Saeed Abedini from his hospital bed and take him back to prison.
Pastor Saeed, a U.S. citizen sentenced to an 8-year prison term in Iran because of his Christian faith, had spent two months at that hospital – a hopeful sign – a hospital room instead of a prison cell – where he received better treatment.
That came to an abrupt end on Tuesday. The Iranian guards did not just take Pastor Saeed into custody. No, they beat him severely. So severely that he passed out.
We know these details because all of this was witnessed by Pastor Saeed’s parents, who were visiting him when the guards stormed the hospital.
They were shocked and helpless. They could do nothing as the guards took their son back to Rajai Shahr Prison.
While we do know the details about this violent encounter, we still don’t know why this happened. The motive is unclear and no explanation was given by the guards.
For Pastor Saeed’s wife, Naghmeh, the news was devastating. “This came as a complete shock to our family. In some ways, hearing the news about his beating and return to prison was worse than getting the initial call nearly two years ago that Saeed was taken into custody. This is a very difficult time for us — not knowing what to expect. We continue to receive strength from the many people around the world who are praying for Saeed and our family.”
Pastor Saeed has committed no crime. He is being punished because of his Christian faith. This latest turn of events is extremely disappointing and reveals the true brutality against Christians that is still very real and present in Iran.
With Pastor Saeed now back in prison and suffering from new injuries sustained from beatings this week, we have to sound the alarm. This is a critical time for Pastor Saeed.
Nearly 260,000 people from around the world are demanding that Iran release Pastor Saeed. Hundreds of thousands continue to pray for the Abedini family.
We’re grateful for President Obama directly raising Pastor Saeed’s plight with Iran’s president last fall and highlighting Pastor Saeed at the National Prayer Breakfast in February.
But this new disturbing development warrants even more involvement from our government to save this innocent U.S. citizen.
In response to Pastor Saeed’s beatings and return to prison, the State Department provided this written statement to a reporter:
“We remain concerned about Mr. Abedini’s health and welfare, especially given reports of mistreatment during his transfer back to Rajai Shahr prison. We repeat our request for Iran to permit Mr. Abedini to receive any necessary medical treatment, and to grant Swiss officials, who serve as our protecting power, consular access to determine his well-being. We remain in touch with Mr. Abedini’s family regarding developments in his case. We call on Iran to release Mr. Abedini so that he may be reunited with his family.”
A paper statement should be just the beginning. During this critical time, the U.S. government needs to call attention to Pastor Saeed’s plight. The president and his top leaders must publicly engage with this case again and demand that Iran release this U.S. citizen.
As Pastor Saeed approaches two years of captivity, it’s time for him to come home. His family needs him.
He, Naghmeh and their two young children are suffering. It is time for his ordeal to be over. After two years it is time for him to return to the country he loves, to be reunited with his family. He belongs in America, not in a prison in Iran.
Jay Sekulow is Chief Counsel of the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ), which focuses on constitutional law. He hosts a daily radio show, “Jay Sekulow Live,” which is broadcast on more than 850 stations nationwide as well as Sirius/X satellite radio. Follow him on Twitter @JaySekulow.
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