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The Legal Argument: Why Iran is Obligated to Free Pastor Saeed

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

General Principles

  • 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

The Judiciary

  • 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”

SOURCE (ACLJ)

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Persecution News Weekly Update – January 28 2013

American Pastor Saeed Sentenced in Iran

Hell on Earth: Inside Iran’s brutal Evin prison

(FoxNews)- It is known as Evin University, but it’s no school — it is one of the  world’s most brutal and infamous prisons. And barring intervention by Iran’s  religious leaders, it could be the home of American citizen and Christian Pastor  Saeed Abedini for the next eight years. Beatings, torture, mock executions and brutal interrogations are the norm at  Evin prison, where for four decades the anguished cries of prisoners have been  swallowed up by the drab walls of the low-slung lockup in northwestern Tehran.

Standing at the foot of the Alborz Mountains, it is home to an estimated 15,000  inmates, including killers, thieves and rapists. But the prison has also held  ayatollahs, journalists, intellectuals and dissidents over the years, and few if  any who have survived time in Evin could be surprised by claims of torture and  abuse made by Abedini’s supporters. Video/Full Article 

Pakistan Supreme Court confirms decision to drop blasphemy case

Pakistan Supreme Court confirms decision to drop blasphemy case- Rimsha Masih now free; lawyers say she always will be at risk in Pakistan. Praise the Lord for the decision and keep praying for Rimsha’s safety! Read more

Egyptian court sentences Christian family to 15 years for converting from Islam

ACLJquote(FoxNews)-A criminal court  in the central Egyptian city of Beni Suef  sentenced a mother and her seven children to prison terms of 15 years for converting to Christianity. Read more

U.S. urged to aid Egyptian family facing prison for converting to Christianity

(FoxNews)Supporters of an Egyptian woman sentenced with her seven children to 15 years in  prison for converting to Christianity say the U.S. government must do more to  stick up for her and other religious minorities in the Middle East. Read more

Despite severe persecution, a Historic Christian Revival is taking place in Iran!

Joel Richardson claims daily stories of miracles, supernatural encounters, transformed lives, and baptisms, are reported on a magnificent scale. More Iranians have come to Christ in the past 30 years than in the prior 1400 years combined! The 2013 Operation World prayer manual lists the growth of Christianity in Iran as leading the entire world with approx. 20% annual growth. This means that believers in Jesus Christ in Iran is doubling every four years. Imagine the changes to the region if this revival continues! Read more

A Story Of Persecution From Saudi Arabia

(Open Doors)- Rashid* is a Saudi Arabian student who attended a Western university and surrendered his life to Christ after his roommate shared the gospel with him. Excited about his newfound faith, Rashid returned home and shared the good news of Jesus… with his loved ones. But he chose a public venue to tell one relative about his decision. A bystander reported Rashid to Saudi religious police, who threw him into jail.
Rashid’s cell mate, Tareq*, kept staring at him. At last Tareq spoke: “You’re the man I’m supposed to talk to.” But Rashid shook his head. “I don’t think so. I’ve been just thrown in jail for my belief in Jesus.” Tareq, however, pleaded with Rashid: “In my dreams a man was shown to me. It was your face. You have something to tell me.” So Rashid shared the gospel with Tareq, who eagerly received Jesus into his heart.
Saudi Arabia is ranked #2 on the World Watch List. Source

Gao Zhisheng, in jail for seeking justice

(AsiaNews.it)Before his conversion to Christianity, Gao was one of the “10 best lawyers in China”: his decision to help others – for free and always within the national legislature – prompted the government to stop him, trying delete him from the scene. During his career he has defended unofficial Christians, members of Falun Gong and Tibetan Buddhists. Read more

Iraqi Kurdistan: A Safe Haven for Christians?

iraq-460_1008994c

A surge in violence against the Christian community has provoked a mass exodus Photo: AP

(Alan Wisdom)- Iraq’s Christian population has been the target of violence for several years. The Christian community in Iraq has suffered great loss in the decade since the U.S. invasion of 2003. Is there a ray of hope now that Iraq’s Assyrian, Chaldean, Armenian, and other Christians can find a secure future in the Kurdistan region? This was the possibility contemplated at a December 5 conference sponsored by Catholic University in Washington, DC.
Since 2003, Iraqi Christian homes, businesses, and churches have been targets of repeated violent attacks-bombings, shootings, kidnappings, arsons-perpetrated by militias aligned with other religious and ethnic groups. The central government has often been unwilling or unable to provide effective protection. Although other Iraqis may identify the Christians with the United States and its western allies, in fact the Christians have gained little from the now fading U.S. presence. Many have fled the country. Most estimates now place Iraq’s Christian population at less than half of the million-plus that it was in 2003.
Traumatized Christians have also relocated within the country. The predominant flow of refugees has been away from the violence of central and southern Iraq and toward Kurdistan in the north, which had been the historic heartland of the ancient Mesopotamian Christian communities. There the refugees have encountered a somewhat better situation, although not without immediate problems and long-term uncertainties. The questions engaged at the December 5 conference were: To what extent should Iraqi Christians tie their fate to the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) and support it against the federal government in Baghdad? Should they seek a Christian-friendly enclave in or near Iraqi Kurdistan, or should they aim to integrate themselves into the broader Iraqi or Kurdish society? Or will emigration abroad be their only option in the end? Read more

Syrian women brave 13 checkpoints to attend School of Prayer

“The Syrian ladies bravely took a step of faith to come as they didn’t want to miss the School,” said Ester, the conference leader. “They had to go through 13 checkpoints to get here. At the border they had to wait for a long time and faced many questions.” The conference hosts had hoped that nine Syrian women would come, but in the end, due to the worsening situation in Syria, just four courageous women were able to attend. The purpose of the event was to study prayer and intercession and to equip women to make prayer an integral part of their outreach to unreached women.

Syrian-Christian-women

Syrian Christian women holding Bible, praying together

“God handpicked every woman who was meant to be there!” Ester said. “They were like sponges, absorbing the teaching very well. All the women faithfully and persistently followed the tough schedule of eleven lessons in two days. They also fasted together on the second day. The Syrian ladies said it is worth it to come all the way to be part of the School! Ten ladies responded to the call to be intercessors. They felt that this is what God wants them to be—intercessors who will stand in the gap for their land.” Read their story here

Freedom under threat: Christians in Iran continue to be persecuted by the regime

Together with Joe Benton, Labour MP for Bootle, I visited Turkey in August as guest of Elam Ministries. Elam is a well-resourced, UK-based charity which supports Iranian Christians.

Our visit contributed evidence for the Christians in Parliament report on the persecution of Christians in Iran, published subsequently in October. Iran has a population of 74 million. Nobody knows how many are Christians, but the number appears to be growing fast. Some think it could be as high as 1.5 million. But, along with other religious minorities such as Baha’i, Christians in Iran face severe persecution. We visited Istanbul, where there is a lively Iranian church, and visiting Iranians are offered New Testaments. The people involved told us they are hardly ever refused, and many Iranians are keen to discuss what the New Testament says.

Deep disillusion is common with the version of Islam proclaimed by their own government, and the experience of living under a regime which adheres to it.

We also visited Kayseri, a big and modern Turkish city of around a million people, with an ancient fortress at its centre. In the winter it is a popular ski resort. We visited an Iranian church there, one of numerous churches of Iranian exiles across Turkey. It meets in a modest flat at the top of a low rise block above shops. Read more

Remember The War In Syria?

The Christians are in the most precarious position. There are Christian enclaves but they are scattered around the country and many have been overrun by opposition or government forces.

Elements in the opposition forces have desecrated and burnt churches in the northern half of Syria. Priests have been murdered,  and Christian civilians forced to flee, just as thousands of others have fled in the face of government forces. There is now a slow exodus of Christians which may become a flood if the Islamist side of the opposition to Mr Assad becomes the dominant force in Syria. The aftermath of the Iraq war saw 400,000 Iraqi Christians forced from the country and a similar fate may await their co-religionists in Syria. Read more

Priest requests prayer for Kenya

Al-Shabab (militant terrorist group) has continued its violent insurgency targeting mainly Christians and security personnel.  The Reverend Canon Francis Omondi said: “The targeting of Christians and security personnel is a very worrying trend. Christians should pray for courage in the midst of these pressures.”

He has been championing health and education issues in the region for more than 25 years. He has also been helping grow the church of God within the region. However, he has been taken aback by the recent attacks on Christians. “The Muslim fundamentalists have no respect for denomination,” he said. “They aim to rid Christians from here [along with] the security forces. As a result of this Christians who have not fled live in great fear”.

Canon Omondi reminded Christians around the world about their responsibility during such times of strife and violence. He said:

“Christians around the world ought to pray for us urgently! We need God to change our situation.”

Full story here

Boko Haram Kills 23 People in Nigeria for ‘Disobeying’ Sharia Law

Islamic terrorists suspected to be from the Boko Haram group have  launched another wave of attacks in Nigeria, killing at least 23 people who they  deemed to have been breaking Sharia Law. The two separate attacks occurred on Monday and Tuesday in north-east  Nigeria, and targeted people selling pork, which Muslims are forbidden to eat,  and a group engaged in gambling, which is also against Islamic law, BBC News reported.

Boko Haram has made it their mission to turn Nigeria into an Islamic state  and drive out the nation’s Christians, who make up half of the country’s  population, by any means necessary. In the last few years they have bombed  churches, killed pastors and gunned down close to 1,400 people since 2010. Read more

For Vietnamese Catholics, government using Pope to cover up Religious Persecution

(ICC) The General Secretary of Vietnam’s Communist Party, Nguyen Phu Trong, visited Pope Benedict XVI in Rome on Tuesday in what Christians inside Vietnam are calling an attempt to cover over religious repression in the country. The visit was censored and unpublished in Vietnamese news outlets even though the rest of the Vietnamese government’s official visit to Italy was reported. Catholics point out that a string of recent incidents and a new religion law indicate that religious freedom and persecution is only growing worse in this Communist nation. Read more

East Turkestan: China Denies Family Visits To Jailed Uyghur Pastor

Chinese authorities restrict the family of a Uyghur sentenced for ‘revealing state secrets’ to visits every three months. Authorities in China’s northwestern region of Xinjiang have denied permission for the family of a jailed Christian Uyghur to visit him, according to the man’s wife.Gulnur, the wife of 40-year-old Uyghur pastor Alimjan Himit (also known in Chinese as Alimujiang Yimiti), who is currently serving a 15-year jail term on spying charges, was turned away by prison guards after she traveled to the jail to visit him on Wednesday, 23 January.
“I have just been over there, but I wasn’t able to see him,” she said. “I am on my way home right now.” She said the prison authorities had limited her to one visit every three months. “They told me to visit once every three months, and to come back next month,” Gulnur said. “I feel so sad about this, because I thought things were getting a bit better.” Gulnur said she thought the restrictions on visits could be linked to Alimjan Himit’s insistence on continuing with the appeals process. “I still want him to appeal,” she said. “I think he could win.” Alimjan Himit was sentenced by a court in Kashgar to a 15-year jail term for allegedly “providing state secrets to overseas organisations” on Oct. 27, 2009. Gulnur said her last visit to her husband in November lasted just 15 minutes. Read more

Pastor Saeed Abedini Sentenced to 8 years in notorious Iranian prison!

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.

hebrews chainsLARGEPlease 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.

Latest News on Imprisoned American Pastor Saeed Abedini

Jan 22, 2013

Jan 25, 201

Jan 25, 2013

The American Center for Law and Justice reports: After more than 235,000 petition signatures, dozens of ACLJ media appearances, tireless efforts from his wife, Naghmeh, letters signed by 49 Senators and Representatives, and media coverage, both the U.S. State Department and the White House condemned Iran for its imprisonment of Pastor Saeed Abedini, a U.S. citizen. Both have called on Iran to release him. On Friday, at the State Department’s daily news briefing, Victoria Nuland discussed Pastor Saeed’s case.

Victoria Nuland
Spokesperson Daily Press Briefing
Washington, DC
January 25, 2013

QUESTION: Firstly, we had a story a few days ago on Saeed
Abedini, this U.S. citizen jailed in Iran, reporting that he
might get bail. Do you have any information on that and on his
status?

MS. NULAND: We remain very concerned about U.S.
citizen Saeed Abedini, who is detained in Iran on charges related to his
religious beliefs. Mr. Abedini’s attorney had only one day to present his
defense. And we remain deeply concerned about the fairness and the transparency
of his trial. We condemn Iran’s continued violation of the universal rights of
freedom of religion, and we call on the Iranian authorities to respect Mr.
Abedini’s human rights and to release him. We are in close contact with his
family as well and we’re actively engaged in the
case.

QUESTION: So no indication that he was let out on
bail as, I think it was, this Iranian news agency seemed to suggest that might
be —

MS. NULAND: I don’t have any positive news to
report on this, unfortunately.

For the first time, White House spokesman Jay Carney responded forcefully about Pastor Saeed’s case during today’s regular briefing with reporters. Carney condemned Iran and urged Iran to release Pastor Saeed. Here is a transcript of that exchange:

Q: U.S. Pastor Saeed Abedini has been on trial in Iran over the course of this week.  His supporters say yesterday he was transferred to another prison unit, ostensibly to get him better medical attention and that he’s kind of disappeared since that time. There are also reports from his supporters that he may have been beaten while he was in captivity.  Has the president been getting any read outs on what is happening there and has there been anything the administration has been able to do to try and assist in his case? I know we have limited contact with Iran, but have there been any diplomatic attempts to try and influence what is happening there?

JAY CARNEY:  Well, I can tell you a couple of things.  One, that we remain concerned about  Saeed Abedini, who is, as you mentioned, detained in Iran on a charge related to his religious beliefs. The State Department is in close contact with his family and is actively engaged on this case.  As you know, Mr. Abedini’s attorney had only one day to present his defense and earlier this week, Mr. Abedini was not allowed to attend his own trial, so we remain deeply concerned about the fairness and transparency of that trial.  We condemn Iran’s continued violation of the universal right of the freedom of religion and we call on the Iranian authorities to release Mr. Abedini. On the first part of your questions about the reports that he might be missing, I would refer you to the State Department.  They are, as I said, actively engaged in this case. 

Q: Are there any diplomatic channels that the White House has been able to use in this case?

CARNEY: That would be a question for the State Department

.

This morning Pastor Saeed’s wife, Naghmeh  excitedly shared with us this report:

Thank you for all who have prayed these last few days! We are seeing so many answers to prayer! US State Department and White House made statements demanding Saeed to be released and NOW, we are told about his whereabouts…See update below

Update: Saeed’s Family Told American Pastor is in Different Ward in Iran’s Evin Prison (visitation is on Monday only, i.e. they didn’t see him).
Today, the family friend who was threatened by Iranian officials because he was assisting them in attempting to place bail, returned to court to retrieve some documents. A court administrator told the family friend to let Pastor Saeed’s lawyer know that he needed to come to court because they would be releasing Pastor Saeed soon. Pastor Saeed’s wife, Naghmeh, is understandably anxious to confirm her husband’s whereabouts and condition. “We have been told so many things about Saeed,” said Naghmeh. “I don’t believe anything the Iranian government says about my husband. See the ACLJ full report here

Christians have come together in love and support of Pastor Abedini and his family

Family, friends and concerned Christians through out the world have been signing up to pray around the clock for this pastor and his loved ones in this extremely trying time. They are planning continued 24 hour prayer until Saeed is home safe in the United States and back with his family!
.

Many  have asked what more they can do. Please note below instructions:

1- We need to continue contacting our Democratic Congressmen and Senators who have not raised their voice and concern over Saeed’s imprisonment.

2- Write a letter to the Evin Prison. Saeed will most likely not receive the letters, but it will show the Iranian government that many are aware of Saeed’s situation.
For more information on how to correctly compose this letter and the address to send it, please contact Voice of the Persecuted at: voice4thepersecuted@gmail.com
.
Jan 26, 2013- Recent reports suggest Congressmen in Brazil  ask for Saeed’s release. We pray Brazil, a country with good relations with Iran can influence the Iranian government to let him return to his family where he belongs. We will keep you updated on this developing news!
Please continue to keep this man and his family in your prayers. And continue to  “BE HIS VOICE”!

PREVIOUS NEWS OF SAEED AND HOW TO CONTACT YOUR ELECTED OFFICIALS HERE

Pastor Saeed Abedini UPDATE and Radio Interview with his wife:

SaeedNaghmeh
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.
God Bless
Naghmeh Abedini

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:

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Petition to Free American Pastor Saeed Abedini

saeediranIran 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

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Despite severe persecution, a Historic Christian Revival is taking place in Iran!

5543-iran_220w_tnAs many in the West call for military action against the nation of Iran, Joel Richardson claims an unparalleled, historical Christian revival is sweeping through the ancient land of Persia with both speed and intensity.

Joel claims, daily stories of miracles, supernatural encounters, transformed lives, and baptisms, are reported on a magnificent scale. More Iranians have come to Christ in the past 30 years than in the prior 1400 years combined! The 2013 Operation World prayer manual lists the growth of Christianity in Iran as leading the entire world with approx. 20% annual growth. This means that believers in Jesus Christ in Iran is doubling every four years. Imagine the changes to the region if this revival continues!

It is extremely difficult to send Christian missionaries into Iran. Since 1979, Christian missionary organizations have been banned by the Islamic government. Iranian Christians face increasingly severe political and religious persecution if they are caught participating in open evangelism or worship. The capacity of satellite television, the internet, and other media are the means by which the Gospel is reaching into the nation. There is now a window of opportunity the Western Church must recognize. No one knows how long this window will truly remain open or how long it will be before the present government becomes desperate enough to take more extreme measures. The imprisonment of Pastor Saeed Abedini and others reveal the regime continues torturing Christians and threatening them with death. Iran is listed #8 on the Open Doors World Watch List where Christian persecution is most severe.

When one meets many Iranians both Christians and Muslims, something stands out. Basically, the Iranian people are a very sweet, gentle and humble people. Due to the aggression of the current Islamic government, the impression often in the Western media is that all Iranians are similarly combative and given to a belligerent form of Islamism. Simply this is not the truth. It is essential the Church body recognize that after 33 years of living under the oppression of the present Islamic Revolution, the Iranian people are deeply burdened, emotionally exhausted, yet spiritually hungry. The heart of the people of Iran is in transition. Many Iranians turn to drugs and alcohol (Iran has the highest rate of drug addiction in the Middle East). Many others, while turning away from the empty religion of their youth, are crying out to their creator for a response. He is answering them!

As in other areas of the Middle East, we hear amazing testimonies coming out of Iran! Many Muslims are coming to faith through miraculous spiritual encounters, visions or dreams. The following story took place during Joel’s most recent visit with Iran Alive Ministries, it is a wonderful example of how God is working among the Persian people. At the conclusion of each live broadcast, Pastor Hormuz, the host of the show, takes call-ins. This time, a woman called to share a dream, asking if we could help her understand it. In her dream, she was standing on the roof of her home with her grandson looking up at the night sky. There amidst the stars, appeared three large clocks. As she and her grandson together gazed in wonderment at the clocks, her attention was suddenly turned to a large wedding gathering down below. Then, as she was pondering this large celebration, a man suddenly appeared in the sky and quickly began to descend to the earth. Following this man was a very large train of people. Suddenly everyone, both those at the wedding and those with the man, together began to shout, “The Bridegroom has arrived!” The woman finished recalling her dream and asked if we might know what it could mean.

Of course, anyone who is familiar with the Bible is likely familiar with the many Scriptural references to Jesus as “the bridegroom” (Matt. 9:15; 25:1,5,6,10; Luke 5:35; John 3:29) who at the end of the age returns from Heaven (Rev. 19:11) for his people to gather them together to celebrate the “marriage supper of the lamb” (Rev. 19:9). “As the woman asked what this dream could mean, and I realized that she had no idea, it was a powerful moment.”

“The Lord is revealing Himself to the Iranian people. What are we doing to partner with Him in His work?” In the Gospel of John, chapter 4, Jesus counseled and even warned his disciples not to remain ignorant regarding the abundant harvest that was ripe for the picking, right before their eyes. Having seen with my own eyes the great harvest that the Lord has prepared, I pray that every Christian who reads this brief report will also recognize the opportunity before us and eagerly join with what God is doing in the nation of Iran through earnest prayer and generous support.”

joelrichadsonJoel Richardson, is foremost an ambassador of Jesus Christ, a husband and a father committed to the pro-life and adoption movements. He is an artist, human rights activist, New York Times Bestselling author, internationally recognized speaker and regular columnist for WND. Joel has a long history of outreach to the Muslim community and has a passion to see Muslims come to Christ. Joel has been also featured on, or written for numerous radio, television and news outlets across the world. To learn more about what Joel is doing, visit his website.

For decades, a phenomenon has been recurring in the Muslim world. Men and women without any knowledge of the Gospel and without any contact with Christians have been forever transformed after experiencing dreams and visions of Jesus Christ. Reports of these supernatural occurrences often come from what are called “closed countries” where preaching the Gospel is forbidden and where converting to Christianity can invoke the death sentence. A common denominator appears to be that the dreams come to those who are seeking to know and please God. Each time I hear these stories, I am in awe of our Lord! Our God’s not dead He’s surely ALIVE and He’s roaring like a LION! He’s living on the inside…Is He asking you to MOVE? Please pray for our Iranian Christian brothers and sisters and those that persecute them. Pray their hearts are softened and that they come to our Lord!

Pastor Saeed Abedini Urgently Needs Our Help!

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

URGENT UPDATE:

We need our senators and congressmen to be contacted this week (before Saeed’s trial on Monday). In order to do this, ACLJ has created a link that you can go to in order to get the information of your senator and congressmen. If you go to the site and type in your zip code, depending on your state, the name of your senators and congressmen comes up….you need to use that information to call and e-mail your congressman and senators to ask them to add their names and to sign on to Representative Aderholt’s letter in the House and Senator Risch’s letter in the Senate calling for Pastor Saeed’s freedom. YOU DO NOT NEED TO SEND SENATOR RISCH OR REPRESENTATIVE ADERHOLT SINCE THEY ARE THE ONES INITIATING THE LETTER.
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UPDATE 1/17/2013

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 ActionRequired2for 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.

Love, Naghmeh

abedini

UPDATE 1/18/2013

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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

Thank you!

For previous post about Pastor Abedini click HERE

Pastor Saeed Abedini needs our HELP!

Pastor Saeed Abedini with his wife, 6-year-old daughter and 4-year-old son

Pastor Saeed Abedini with his wife, 6-year-old daughter and 4-year-old sonIn 2009, Pastor Saeed Abedini was held captive for running a house church movement in Iran. At that time he made an agreement withthe police that he would cease all activity as the leader of this underground church movement. Since then, Pastor Abedini said he has honored the agreement and has returned to Iran eight times. In 2012 he was visiting family and working on an orphanage when regime went back on it’s 2009 promise and decided to imprison Saeed, bringing him back up on the charges related to the 2009 detainment.

In 2009, Pastor Saeed Abedini was held captive for running a house church movement in Iran. At that time he made an agreement with the police that he would cease all activity as the leader of this underground church movement. Since then, Pastor Abedini said he has honored the agreement and has returned to Iran eight times. In 2012 he was visiting family and working on an orphanage when regime went back on it’s 2009 promise and decided to imprison Saeed, bringing him back up on the charges related to the 2009 detainment. Pastor Saeed, 32, was granted U.S. citizenship in 2010 through marriage to his American wife, Naghmeh. They have two children, a 6-year-old daughter and 4-year-old son. In 2008, Saeed became an ordained minister with the American Evangelistic Association. The Iranian government does not recognize his U.S. citizenship and for 3 years he travelled back and forth from Iran until this summer when he was put under house arrest. He was imprisoned in September and the Iranian government has refused to notify Pastor Saeed, his attorney, or his family about what’s included in the charges. What’s clear is that Pastor Saeed is in prison because of his Christian faith and his desire to share the Gospel with others.

Abedini is being held in what said to be a notoriously brutal Evin Prison, in Tehran. Now his case has been assigned to the 26th Branch of the Revolutionary Court. Judge Pierre Abbasi who heads that branch,” is known specifically to be notorious for his brutal sentences. He’s been nicknamed the ‘hanging judge’ by the US Commission on International Religious Freedom and as one of three Islamic Revolutionary Court judges “responsible for particularly severe violations of religious freedom.”

Evin Prison is considered every Iranians nightmare!

Evin Prison is considered every Iranians nightmare!

Tiffany Barrans, who works on Saeed’s legal team with the ACLJ says, they are worried, but they’re not done fighting. “I think we have a lot of work ahead of us. I think it could be very detrimental for Saeed. We have cause for concern. Hopefully, we get our government more involved and get governments around the world speak up against Iran’s violation of human rights.”

Iran is refusing to release him, and subjecting him to unspeakable abuse, including death threats. At the ACLJ, they are launching an international campaign to free Pastor Saeed, and need Americans to mobilize for religious liberty. There is a petition you can sign to urge the President, the State Department, and every Member of Congress to take a stand for an American Christian. To sign this petition please click here!

UPDATE!
US Department of State made a statement about Saeed at their briefing today:

“MS. NULAND(Victoria Nuland): We have serious concerns about the fate of two U.S. citizens detained in Iran, Amir Hekmati and Saeed Abedini. Let me start with Mr. Abedini…. He was arrested by Iranian officials more than three months ago on charges related to his religious beliefs. We understand that a hearing will be held soon, and we call on Iranian officials to respect Iran’s own laws and provide Mr. Abedini access to an attorney.”

Help get Idaho Christian Pastor Saeed Abedini home. Saeed has been detained by the Iranian government for his faith.

We petition the Obama Administration to help get American Pastor Saeed Abedini from Boise, Idaho home safely to his wife and children. Saeed has been imprisoned by the Iranian government because he is a Christian. President Obama, we ask you to work with the U.S. Department of State, the Iranian Government and the Swiss Embassy to help get Saeed home soon. Saeed is still in prison and his condition continues to deteriorate. Please help.

The petition that still needs 25,000 signatures by February 10, 2013. Please click the link below, sign and share to get the word out. Thank you!

BE HIS VOICE!

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URGENT UPDATE ON PASTOR ABEDINI HERE

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