FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
American Pastor Saeed Abedini was severely abused, repeatedly tasered, and threatened with new charges by Iranian intelligence officers, days before Iranian President Rouhani leaves for U.N. meeting in New York
09/24/2015 Washington, D.C. (International Christian Concern) –
International Christian Concern (ICC) has learned that American Pastor Saeed Abedini has been severely abused by Iranian intelligence officers during interrogation at the Rajaei Shar Prison in Karaj, Iran. Saeed was also threatened with new charges that would extend his imprisonment beyond the eight years he currently faces. September 26, 2015 marks the third anniversary of his imprisonment in Iran.
During a family visitation on Wednesday, Saeed was able to relay to his family still in Iran some of the details of what he suffered the day before. Intelligence officers repeatedly used a taser stun gun on Saeed. They also threatened to add new criminal charges to his case, accusing him of political statements and actions against the government of Iran. “Pastor Saeed denied all of these allegations, and once again asserted that he is apolitical and that he has never threatened the security of, made any statements against, or taken any action against the Government of Iran,” said the American Center for Law and Justice, which represents the Abedini family.
This development came just days after 67 Members of Parliaments from nearly 50 countries signed a letter to Mr. Ali Larijani, the Speaker of the Iranian parliament, specifically calling for the release of Saeed as well as other Christians and religious minorities held in Iran. The letter was part of Summit, organized by the the International Panel of Parliamentarians for Freedom of Religion or Belief in New York before the start of the United Nations 70th General Assembly.
Today, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani also heads to New York and will address the U.N. General Assembly on Monday, September 28. It will be his first trip to the United States since Iran signed a Nuclear Deal with the United States and other world leaders. While he has made good on his promises to his people regarding the nuclear negotiations, he has been an “abject failure in delivering on his pledges to defend basic civil rights and liberties in Iran,” the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran (ICHRI) pointed out. “Rouhani hides behind an ‘independent’ Judiciary but he is still head of state. It is indefensible that Rouhani has been silent and inconsequential on basic human rights,” said Hadi Ghaemi, executive director of ICHRI.
Pastor Saeed and the other religious minorities imprisoned in Iran are emblematic of the lack of these basic human rights. As of the beginning of 2015, Saeed was one of more than 90 Christians who were either currently in prison or awaiting trial for charges related to their faith, according to the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom.
These latest developments have added to the incredible hardships that his family has endured over the past three years. “It was a heartbreaking visit,” Naghmeh Abedini told ICC. “The attacks are great, but God’s grace is carrying Saeed,” she continued.
On September 26 and 27th, hundreds of prayer vigils across the United States and more than 30 countries will mark the third anniversary of Saeed’s imprisonment and once again appeal for his release.
Todd Daniels, Regional Manager for the Middle East said, “Iran continues to violate the most basic rights of their citizens and of an American citizen Saeed Abedini. Now they have once again added physical injury by this torturous treatment in addition to the continued violation of rights. We urge the government of Iran to release Saeed who has not committed any crimes and is in prison simply for having met with others who share his faith. As Iran’s President Rouhani comes to the United Nations, we urge all world leaders to press him on how he can claim to stand for values of human dignity and yet allow the abuse of people simply for what they believe.”
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Olivia Miller, Communications Coordinator