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Islamic Republic of Iran
Sept. 23, 2013
Dear President Rouhani,
I have been watching with great concern about the case of Pastor Saeed Abedini, an American citizen who is currently a prisoner in your country. He was in Iran working to build an orphanage when he was arrested and later sentenced to eight years in prison. His situation has been receiving an increasingly high level of attention in the United States. Unfortunately this publicity has been entirely negative for Iran, with the belief that the primary reason for Pastor Abedini’s imprisonment was because of his Christian faith.
As you may know, as a religious leader I have often spoken (both publically and also privately with our national leadership) about the need for greater understanding and peace among the nations of the world. As you come to the United States this week for the U.N. General Assembly in New York, it is my sincere hope that ways may be found to reduce the current tensions between the United States and the Islamic Republic of Iran.
The announcement on Monday that your country has freed 80 political prisoners is very encouraging. I fear, however, that the current publicity surrounding the continued imprisonment of Pastor Abedini, an American citizen, may further harm the already fragile relationship that presently exists between our two nations.
On September 26, the one-year anniversary of Pastor Abedini’s imprisonment, thousands will attend prayer vigils in more than 70 U.S. cities, calling on your country to release this husband, father and servant of God. I join them by respectfully asking you to release Pastor Saeed Abedini from prison. Such an action would, I believe, have a positive impact in our nation, and might well be perceived by our leadership as a significant step in reducing tensions.
Click here to see the original letter.
The ACLJ reports the Iranian family of American Pastor Saeed Abedini was once again able to visit him in Evin prison in Iran. Despite previous threats from Iranian authorities that they would cut off Pastor Saeed’s visitation, he was able to spend some brief time with his family in Iran earlier today.
Unfortunately, we have learned that Pastor Saeed’s internal injuries are causing him increased pain. Pastor Saeed has been suffering from internal bleeding – the results of intense beatings he has sustained in prison for his faith.
Recently, Iranian authorities allowed him to be treated by a doctor at a local hospital. Since that time, he has continued to take the medication he was prescribed. However, his pain has recently increased, to the point that on one occasion he fainted from the immense anguish.
This is a disturbing turn of events. It serves as a renewed reminder of the dangerous conditions Pastor Saeed faces in one of the world’s worst prisons.
Iran must see to it that Pastor Saeed is treated humanely and receives the critical medical attention he so desperately needs. He must be release from this torment for his Christian faith and be allowed to return home to receive medical attention in the United States and more importantly to be reunited with his loving family.
Even as Pastor Saeed suffers, Iran’s brutal crackdown on Christians continues. There are reports that three more Christians were just recently arrested without charge in Iran. Reportedly, they have been beaten, one to the point of being hospitalized. Another was recently convicted and sentenced to 10 years in prison (by the same notorious judge who convicted and sentenced Saeed) for, among other things, membership in an “anti-security organization,” i.e. a Christian church. Court documents obtained by an Iranian Christian media source show that he had previously been found guilty of “apostasy” (converting to Christianity).
It is vitally important that we highlight these situations. Pastor Saeed is the face of Christian persecution in Iran, but he is far from the only one. The ACLJ is preparing to launch new initiatives to highlight the persecuted church around the world and the work to expose their human rights abusers and shine light into the darkest corners of the globe.
We will continue to bring you updates on Pastor Saeed’s and these new efforts.
Please continue to pray for Pastor Saeed’s freedom, share his story and how your friends can take action at SaveSaeed.org, and learn more about the upcoming prayer vigils being sponsored around the globe on September 26th.
Prison guards in Evin and Karaj raided cells of Christians being held there, damaging facilities and stealing personal belongings.
According to Mohabat News, early in the morning on July 18, 2013, one hundred and fifty prison guards in Evin prison raided ward 350, pulled prisoners from their cells, physically inspected them and began searching there. During their searching operation, the guards broke and stole prisoners’ belongings. Ward 350 holds mainly political prisoners and prisoners of conscience.
According to a message Mohabat News received from inside the prison, other than political prisoners’ cells, cells of Christian prisoners were raided as well. Christian prisoners held in that ward include Farshid Fathi, Mostafa Bordbar, Alireza Seyyedian and the American-Iranian pastor, Saeed Abedini. In addition to their personal belongings, prison guards damaged facilities in their cells, including cooling systems, electric wires, etc.
To carry out the attack, prison authorities in Evin prison requested support from Ghezel-Hesar prison. The operation was led by Mr. Ghobadi, Chief of Security of Evin prison. The guards used handheld scanners and also physically inspected prisoners’ bodies in a disrespectful fashion.
This sort of humiliating and aggressive attack is unheard of. The guards violated the prisoners’ privacy and searched their personal belongings which resulted in the loss of several items belonging to the prisoners.
It is worth mentioning that Christian prisoners in ward 350 of Evin prison are imprisoned merely for their Christian faith and no other offense. Farshid Fathi and Alireza Seyyedian were sentenced to six years in prison and Pastor Saeed Abedini was sentenced to 8 years of imprisonment. All three of these Christian prisoners are serving their sentences. The other Christian prisoner, Mostafa Bordbar, is waiting for a verdict from his trial which was held earlier. He has been held in prison for eight months now.
– Prison Guards Raid Behnam Irani’s Cell in Karaj Prison
In this latest incident, Iranian authorities raided the cell of Behnam Irani, a prisoner of conscience, and his cellmates in Karaj prison, inspecting their cells and damaging their personal belongings.
As authorities raided his cell, Behnam Irani objected to their behavior. As a result, he was threatened to be put into solitary confinement. According to the report, such inhuman and violent attacks are often carried out against Mr. Irani and his cellmates. It is reported that his cell was raided 10 times in the past two months alone.
This is not the first time that prisoners of conscience have been harassed for insisting on their beliefs. The Islamic regime’s inappropriate and violent behavior towards these prisoners has been consistently criticized and condemned by Human Rights activists and the International Community.
It is noteworthy that Mr. Behnam Irani is a member of a non-Trinitarian Christian group who has been sentenced to six years in prison and is currently serving his sentence in ward two, hall seven of Karaj prison. Iranian security authorities had arrested him in his house in March 2010.