In the course of fighting for Pastor Saeed’s freedom, a number of individuals have responded with words like, “He was in Iran, what could he expect?” While it is true that Iran is a radical Islamic regime, it is also true that the nation has voluntarily and willingly signed a number of international agreements that prohibit its actions here and is even violating its own constitution. In short, Iran is not only violating Pastor Saeed’s human rights, it is violating its own laws.
The UN Charter
- The Preamble reaffirms “faith in the fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person”
- Article 1(3): “The purposes of the United Nations are . . . to achieve international cooperation . . . in promoting and encouraging respect for human rights and for fundamental freedoms for all without distinction as to . . . religion”
- Article 55: “The United Nations shall promote . . . universal respect for, and observance of, human rights and fundamental freedoms for all without distinction as to . . . religion.”
- Article 56 emphasizes the significance of Article 55, stating that: “all Members pledge themselves to take joint and separate action in cooperation with the [UN] for the achievement of the purposes set forth in Article 55.”
The Universal Declaration
on Human Rights
- Article 2: “Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as . . .religion”
- Article 3: “Everyone has the right to life, liberty and the security of person”
- Article 5: “No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment”
- Article 7: “All are equal before the law and are entitled without any discrimination to equal protection of the law”
- Article 9: “No one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest, detention or exile”
- Article 10: “Everyone is entitled in full equality to a fair and public hearing by an independent and impartial tribunal, in the determination of his rights and obligations and of any criminal charge against him”
- Article 11(1): “Everyone charged with a penal offence has the right to be presumed innocent until proved guilty according to law in a public trial at which he has had all the guarantees necessary for his defence”
- Article 18: “Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public and private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance”
- Article 19: “Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression” [which includes the freedom of religious expression]
- Article 20: “Everyone has the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and association” [which includes the freedoms of religious assembly and association]
- Article 26(2): “Education shall . . . promote understanding, tolerance and friendship among all nations, racial or religious groups, and shall further the activities of the United Nations for the maintenance of peace”
The Cairo Declaration on
Human Rights in Islam
Note that, while the Cairo Declaration on Human Rights in Islam speaks to many rights held by humans, it is also careful to define these same rights within the Islamic religion and Shari’ah. For example, articles 24 and 25 are clear that “all the rights and freedoms stipulated in this Declaration are subject to the Islamic Shari’ah,” and “[t]he Islamic Shari’ah is the only source of reference for the explanation or clarification of any of the articles of this Declaration.” Yet, Shari’ah law is applied differently in different Islamic countries (e.g., in Saudi Arabia, Sharia is understood to require that women be covered from head to toe in public and that they be accompanied by a male relative when leaving the home, whereas in Pakistan, a woman is capable of being elected prime minister). As such, Shari’ah is a subjective standard.
- Article 1(a): “All men are equal in terms of basic human dignity and basic obligations and responsibilities, without any discrimination on the grounds of . . . religious belief”
- Article 2: “Safety from bodily harm is a guaranteed right. It is the duty of the state to safeguard against it”
- Article 9(b): “Every human being has the right to receive both religious and worldly education”
- Article 18(a): “Everyone shall have the right to live in security for himself, his religion”
- Article 19: “All individuals are equal before the law, without distinction between the ruler and the ruled. . . . A defendant is innocent until his guilt is proven in a fair trial in which he shall be given all the guarantees of defence”
- Article 20: “It is not permitted to subject [an individual] to physical or psychological torture or to any form of humiliation, cruelty or indignity”
The International Covenant on
Civil and Political Rights
- Article 2(1): “Each State Party . . . undertakes to respect and to ensure to all individuals . . . the rights recognized in the present Covenant, without distinction of any kind, such as . . . religion”
- Article 5(2): “There shall be no restriction upon or derogation from any of the fundamental human rights recognized or existing in any State Party . . . pursuant to law, conventions, regulations or custom on the pretext that the present Covenant does not recognize such rights or that it recognizes them to a lesser extent”
- Article 6: “Every human being has the inherent right to life. This right shall be protected by law. No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his life”
- Article 7: “No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment”
- Article 9: “Everyone has the right to liberty and security of person. No one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest or detention. . . . Anyone who is arrested shall be informed, at the time of arrest, of the reasons for his arrest and shall be promptly informed of any charges against him”
- Article 14: “All persons shall be equal before the courts and tribunals. In the determination of any criminal charge against him, or of his rights and obligations in a suit at law, everyone shall be entitled to a fair and public hearing by a competent, independent and impartial tribunal established by law. . . . Everyone charged with a criminal offence shall have the right to be presumed innocent until proved guilty according to law. In the determination of any criminal charge against him, everyone shall be entitled to the following minimum guarantees, in full equality: (a) To be informed promptly and in detail in a language which he understands of the nature and cause of the charge against him; (b) To have adequate time and facilities for the preparation of his defence and to communicate with counsel of his own choosing; (c) To be tried without undue delay; (d) To be tried in his presence, and to defend himself in person or through legal assistance of his own choosing; to be informed, if he does not have legal assistance, of this right; and to have legal assistance assigned to him, in any case where the interests of justice so require, and without payment by him in any such case if he does not have sufficient means to pay for it; (e) To examine, or have examined, the witnesses against him and to obtain the attendance and examination of witnesses on his behalf under the same conditions as witnesses against him”
- Article 18: “Everyone shall have the right of freedom of thought, conscience and religion. This right shall include freedom to have or to adopt a religion or belief of his choice, and freedom, either individually or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in worship, observance, practice and teaching. . . . Freedom to manifest one’s religion or beliefs may be subject only to such limitations as are prescribed by law and are necessary to protect public safety, order, health, or morals or the fundamental rights and freedoms of others”
- Article 19: “Everyone shall have the right to hold opinions without interference,” and “everyone shall have the right to freedom of expression; this right shall include freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds” [both of which certainly include religious opinions, information, and ideas]
- Article 21: “The right of peaceful assembly shall be recognized. No restrictions may be placed on the exercise of this right other than those imposed in conformity with the law and which are necessary in a democratic society in the interests of nationals security or public safety”
- Article 22: “Everyone shall have the right of freedom of association with others”
- Article 26: “All persons are equal before the law and are entitled without any discrimination to the equal protection of the law. In this respect, the law shall prohibit any discrimination and guarantee to all persons equal and effective protection against discrimination on any ground such as . . . religion”
- Article 27: “In those States in which ethnic, religious or linguistic minorities exist, persons belonging to such minorities shall not be denied the right, in community with the other members of their group, to enjoy their own culture, to profess and practise their own religion, or to use their own language”
Constitution of the
Islamic Republic of Iran
- Further, Article 3 states that “the government of . . . Iran has the duty of directing all its resources to the following goals:
14) securing the multifarious rights of all citizens, both women and men, and providing legal protection for all, as well as the equality of-all before the law”
- Following the declaration of the official religion, Article 13 states that “Zoroastrian, Jewish, and Christian Iranians are the only recognized religious minorities, who, within the limits of the law, are free to perform their religious rites and ceremonies, and to act according to their own canon in matters of personal affairs and religious education”
- Article 14 states that the “government of the Islamic Republic of Iran and all Muslims are duty-bound to treat non-Muslims in conformity with ethical norms and the principles of Islamic justice and equity, and to respect their human rights”
The Rights of the People
- Article 19 begins to outline the rights of the people: “All people of Iran, whatever the ethnic group or tribe to which they belong, enjoy equal rights; and color, race, language, and the like”
- Article 22 states that “the dignity, life, property, rights, residence, and occupation of the individual are inviolate, except in cases sanctioned by law”
- Article 23 states that the “investigation of individual’s beliefs is forbidden, and no one may be molested or taken to task simply for holding a certain belief”
- Article 26 states that “[p]olitical parties, societies, political and craft associations, and Islamic or recognized minority religious associations may be freely brought into being, provided that no violation is involved of the principles of independence, freedom, national unity, Islamic standards, and the foundations of the Islamic Republic”
- Article 32 states that “[n]o person may be arrested except according to and in the manner laid down in the law. If someone is detained, the subject matter of the charge, with reasons (for bringing it), must immediately be communicated and explained in writing to the accused. Within at most 24 hours the file on the case and preliminary documentation must be referred to the competent legal authority”
- Article 37 states that “[i]nnocence is the basic principle. No person is considered legally guilty, except in cases where his guilt is established in a competent court”
- Article 38 states that “[a]ny kind of torture used to extract an admission of guilt or to obtain information is forbidden. Compelling people to give evidence, or confess or take an oath is not allowed. Such evidence or confession or oath is null and void”
- Article 41 states that “[c]itizenship of Iran is the unquestioned right of all Iranians. The Government may not deprive any Iranian of his citizenship, except at their own request, or if they take up citizenship of another country”
- Article 165 states that “trials are to be held openly and members of the public may attend without any restriction; unless the court determines that an open trial would be detrimental to public morality or discipline, or if in case of private disputes, both parties request not to hold open hearing”
From the American Center for Law & Justice (ACLJ)- Our worst fears have been realized. This morning in Tehran on an empty promise that American Pastor Saeed Abedini might be released, his lawyer came to court. The lawyer had no formal notice that his presence was required, only the casual request less than 24 hours before from a court administrator to a family friend that the lawyer should come to the court because it was releasing Pastor Saeed. But this was all a lie.
Upon arriving at the court, Dr. Naser Sarbazi, Pastor Saeed’s lawyer, saw his client. He knew he had been deceived.
Without family present, Judge Pir-Abassi of Branch 26 of the Iranian Revolutionary Court, known as the “hanging judge,” verbally convicted and sentenced Pastor Saeed to eight years in prison for threatening the national security of Iran through his leadership in Christian house churches. The evidence provided was of Pastor Saeed’s Christian activities primarily during the early 2000s, when under President Khatami house churches were not perceived as a threat to Iran. Despite Iranian law requiring a written verdict, none was given.
Here’s the troubling reality: A U.S. citizen, who has been beaten and tortured since him imprisonment last fall, now facing eight years in Evin Prison, one of the most brutal prisons in Iran.
We represent Pastor Saeed’s wife, Naghmeh, and her two children who live in the U.S. Upon hearing this injustice, Naghmeh, said: “The promise of his release was a lie. We should not trust the empty words or promises put out by the Iranian government. These false hopes amount to psychological torture. You don’t want to trust them, but they build a glimmer hope before the crushing blow. With today’s development I am devastated for my husband and my family. We must now pursue every effort, turn every rock, and not stop until Saeed is safely on American soil.”
We know that with the Iranian Revolutionary Court, Pastor Saeed’s conviction and sentence had to be approved at the very top – The Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khomeini had to sign off.
Iran has not only abused its own laws, it has trampled on the fundamentals of human rights. We call on the citizens of the world to rise up in protest. We call on governments around the world to stand and defend Pastor Saeed. As his wife has pleaded, starting with our own government, every effort must be pursued. We are calling on the State Department and the White House, which have both called for Pastor Saeed’s release, to engage further.
This is a real travesty. An U.S. citizen faces a lengthy prison term for simply because of his Christian faith. Pastor Saeed facing eight years in a harsh prison – likely facing life-threatening torture and abuse at the hands of the Iranian regime.
Please continue to pray for Pastor Saeed and his family. We will continue to utilize all of our efforts to see that justice is served and Pastor Saeed is safely in the arms of his loving wife and two children back home in the United States. Source
Jordan Sekulow is Executive Director of the American Center for Law and Justice.
To all our beautiful friends and prayer warriors,
Here is an update on Saeed Abedini. Saeed had his day at the court with his lawyer. Both Saeed and the lawyer provided their defense. The accusations were that Saeed was undermining the Iranian government by starting underground churches that dated back to the year 2000 (when Saeed converted to Christianity). Saeed was able to share from the Bible to the Judge and say that he was not a political person and had no political intentions, but he was a follower of His Lord Jesus Christ. There will be no more hearings and the formal charges and sentences will most likely be announced next week according to his lawyer in Iran. There seemed to have been moments when the judge was moved by Saeed’s testimony. Please continue to pray for the Judge and Saeed’s release and his return back to our family. We should be hearing some news next week.
Current Update: Pastor Saeed’s Trial: Bail Rejected
Today Pastor Saeed Abedini appeared before Judge Pir-Abassi in Branch 26 of the Iranian Revolutionary Courts. The prosecutor charged Pastor Saeed with attempting to undermine the Iranian government by creating a network of Christian house churches. The court presented evidence that dated back to the year 2000, the year Pastor Saeed converted from Islam to Christianity. The regime alleged that Pastor Saeed intentionally sought to sway the minds of Iranian youth by turning the youth toward Christianity and against Islam, the official religion of Iran.
Pastor Saeed is represented by Dr. Naser Sarbazi, a Muslim lawyer in Iran who is dedicated to preserving human rights and upholding the right for all individuals to practice their faith freely. Less than 24 hours before the trial, Dr. Sarbazi was permitted to meet with Pastor Saeed to prepare a defense. Dr. Sarbazi presented a strong defense as to why Pastor Saeed’s Christian activities were not a threat to the national security of Iran. He presented arguments as to how Pastor Saeed’s Christian activities were motivated solely by his faith and without a political agenda. Pastor Saeed’s father was the only family member allowed in the courtroom. Read more here
Listen to short interview with Saeed’s wife, Naghmeh Abedini on Air1 Radio
Pastor Saeed Abedini, an American citizen, is currently on trial in Iran, facing a possible death sentence. He’s charged, essentially, with being a Christian. While under house arrest, Saeed has been able to listen to Air1! His wife, Naghmeh, says he gets tremendous encouragement from being able to listen, even in the midst of what can be a brutal daily life. He writes, now, that he is facing beatings in prison. His trial began today.
Hear Naghmeh’s interview with Air1’s Brant Hansen:
Petition to Free American Pastor Saeed Abedini
Iran is imprisoning and abusing an American pastor because of his faith. Iran, home of one of the world’s most radical Islamic regimes, is holding American Pastor Saeed Abedini because he is a Christian, refusing to release him, and subjecting him to unspeakable abuse.
At the ACLJ, we are launching an international campaign to free Pastor Saeed, and we need Americans to mobilize for religious liberty. Urge the President, the State Department, and every Member of Congress to take a stand for an American Christian.
To: President Obama, the Secretary of State, and the United States Congress
Iran’s radical and violent jihadist regime is persecuting an American pastor for exercising his fundamental right to religious freedom. The United States cannot tolerate such assaults on its own citizens. Take all available diplomatic and legislative action to pressure Iran to respect religious freedom and release Pastor Saeed.
Sign the Petition Here
From the American Center of Law and Justice–
American Pastor Saeed Abedini’s Iranian lawyer was finally permitted to see Saeed’s court file. What he discovered is that Pastor Saeed’s trial has been set for January 21, 2013, one week from today.
It is an outrage that Pastor Saeed’s trial date and charge against him would be withheld from his legal counsel until less than a week before the trial itself. Not only is Iran violating Pastor Saeed’s fundamental freedom of religion, but it is making a mockery of “justice.”
Even more disturbing, the only charge that Pastor Saeed’s attorney was able to decipher dates back to the year 2000, the year that Pastor Saeed converted from Islam to Christianity. The supposed charge levied against him, actions against the national security of Iran, is a typical charged brought by the radical Islamic regime against those it wishes to persecute for their religious beliefs. His court file indicated that this national security charge was directly related to his work starting a house church movement in Iran.
As we know from Pastor Youcef’s case, who was also involved in house churches, charges related to apostasy (converting to Christianity) can carry the death sentence in Iran. This coupled with the fact that, as Saeed stated in his recent letter, he has been told that he “will hang” for his “faith in Jesus” and that his case has been turned over to one of Iran’s notorious “hanging judges” clearly indicates that Pastor Saeed is in grave danger. READ MORE HERE
37 Members of the U.S. House of Representatives and 12 U.S. Senators sent letters to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on behalf of Pastor Saeed Abedini, an American citizen imprisoned in Iran for his Christian faith.
The bipartisan House letter, led by Representative Robert Aderholt (AL-04), urged Secretary Clinton to demand Pastor Saeed’s immediate and unconditional release, asking her to “leave no stone unturned” in efforts to bring Pastor Saeed to safety.
The House letter concluded:
We are both mindful of the fact that the United States does not have diplomatic relations with Iran and grateful for your faithful condemnation of Iran’s human rights record. However, we believe there is still a great deal of good that the State Department can and should do on behalf of Mr. Abedini, one of our own citizens. We respectfully request that you leave no stone unturned in your efforts to bring Mr. Abedini home to his family. We believe that strong and sustained advocacy from the State Department would do much to rally the voice of the world against this wrongful detainment. As such, we stand ready to join with you in demanding Mr. Abedini’s full, immediate, and unconditional exoneration and release.
The Senate letter concluded:
We are grateful for your consistent condemnation of the Iranian regime’s actions that violate religious freedoms and we believe your voice can motivate countries and international organizations that have diplomatic relations with Iran to action. Although the United States does not have diplomatic relations with Iran, we strongly encourage the State Department to exhaust all efforts to secure Mr. Abedini’s prompt return. Saeed’s efforts to provide humanitarian relief and exercise fundamental human rights should be applauded not condemned. We should not stand idly by while the Iranian regime arbitrarily persecutes a U.S. citizen who has committed no crime.
We believe these strong statements from members of the House and Senate are just the first of numerous political and governmental leaders to take a stand for this persecuted pastor, and we join them in calling for the State Department to use all available means to secure Pastor Saeed’s freedom.
You can add your name to the over 100,000 Americans demanding Pastor Saeed’s release by signing the ACLJ’s petition to save Pastor Saeed today. SIGN HERE
The ACLJ would like to personally thank each of the following Members of Congress for their dedication to religious freedom and commitment to defending this American citizen from a sham trial in Iran for his religious beliefs. To see the list of the Members and the full ACLJ article click here
PRAYER REQUEST from Pastor Abedini’s wife:
Hi Dear Prayer Warriors,
If you are in Boise area, there will be a prayer meeting held for Saeed’s upcoming trial at 5 PM (mountain time) at Calvary Chapel Boise at the Preschool building Room 108.
For those of you in other parts of the world and in the US. Saeed’s trial starts 9 AM Monday Morning Tehran time which is 9:30 PM Sunday night (January 20) Pacific time, 10:30 PM Mountain Time… (Sunday January 20) and 12:30 Midnight Eastern Time…(which would be Monday, January 21) .
Please encourage gatherings and prayer meetings for Sunday afternoon/Sunday night as Saeed will be preparing to go on trial.
I believe in the power of prayer. Our God is mighty. Thank you for standing with us in prayer during this time.
Although the National Security Council has made a statement, there has not been a statement by US Department of State for Saeed’s release. Please continue to contact US Department and ask them that they do what they can to get Saeed released. SIGN HERE