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Presenting Pastor Saeed’s Case at UN

By Jordan Sekulow1362770936000

Earlier this week, a team from the European Centre for Law and Justice (ECLJ), the ACLJ’s international affiliate with Special Consultative Status as an NGO with the United Nations (U.N.), presented Pastor Saeed Abedini’s case before the U.N. Human Rights Council.

This meeting  presented a critical opportunity to elevate Pastor Saeed’s case in the  international arena.  This presentation at the U.N. represents one of the many ways we are engaging the international community in a truly global campaign to secure the release of this imprisoned pastor, a U.S. citizen.

The ACLJ’s legal team prepared this critical report to be delivered by our ECLJ representatives at the United Nations.  We are also preparing to potentially make an additional presentation before the Human Rights Council (HRC) when it reconvenes next week.

Dr. Grégor Puppinck, Director General of ECLJ, presented Pastor Saeed’s case in Geneva, Switzerland on Monday, March 5th.  He stated, “the ECLJ would like to bring to your attention again the situation of Saeed Abedini who is currently jailed in Iran because of his religion.”

He explained before the U.N. Human Rights Council that “Saeed’s imprisonment is a clear violation of the rule of law and of his fundamental right to exercise his religion of choice ‘in community with others and in public or private’ ‘in worship, observance, practice and teaching’, as guaranteed by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the ICCPR.”

We concluded:

Saeed has been repeatedly beaten, denied access to medical care, subjected to intense interrogations, and threatened with death all because he peacefully exercised his Christian faith.

These violations must be addressed so freedom of religion and belief, including the intertwining rights of religious expression and peaceful assembly, are reinforced as a cornerstone upon which peace may be established. The ECLJ recommends that the HRC condemn every practice that prevents individuals from freely choosing and practicing their religion, and request that Saeed be released immediately!

It is absolutely imperative to stand up for the most basic of human rights.

The 32-year-old Pastor Saeed is in jail today because of his religious beliefs – because of his Christian faith.  He is being tortured and beaten and unable to talk with his wife and two young children who live in the U.S. We must all speak out.

Over 420,000 people have spoken out around the world by signing the ACLJ’s petition to Save Saeed.  Individuals from more than 150 countries worldwide have signed this critical petition urging world leaders to pressure Iran to release this persecuted pastor.

The response has been overwhelming, and it is having a tremendous impact.

Just yesterday the U.S. State Department was again asked about Saeed’s case.  State Department Spokesperson Victoria Nuland stated:

Well, as you know, we remain concerned about Mr. Abedini. We raise this at regular intervals. We also remain deeply concerned that the Iranians have not yet granted access to him by our Swiss protecting power. We continue to believe he should be released immediately.

We appreciate the State Department’s willingness to call for the release of this U.S. citizen facing innumerable human rights abuses in Iran, and we have urged the State Department and Secretary of State Kerry to directly engage this matter at the United Nations and with countries around the world.

If you have not already done so, please sign the petition to #SaveSaeed and share it through SaveSaeed.org.

Our prepared remarks of this week’s presentation before the U.N. Human Rights Council on Pastor Saeed’s behalf are below and the video is above:

The ECLJ would like to thank and congratulate the Special Rapporteur on for his Report and activities. As the rapporteur emphasis it, the primary holders of religious freedom are the individuals, whereas it is true that the religious minorities need a special recognition and protection as a group. One the other hand, the individuals shall not be prisoners of their religious groups, their individual right and freedom to change religious affiliation, to convert, must be protected, especially for those who leave the majority religion to join a minority religion. It is of a primary importance that the HRC persistently condemn the so called “anti apostasy laws”.

In this regard, the ECLJ would like to bring to your attention the situation of Saeed Abedini who is currently jailed in Iran because of his religion:

Arrested during his visit to Iran to build a non-sectarian orphanage, Saeed is now imprisoned in Evin Prison in Tehran for engaging in peaceful assemblies of Christians in private homes. Although his official charge was cloaked as a national security concern, Iranian media and his attorney have reported that Saeed was put on trial solely because of his religious activities.

Saeed’s imprisonment is a clear violation of the rule of law and of his fundamental right to exercise his religion of choice “in community with others and in public or private” “in worship, observance, practice and teaching”, as guaranteed by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the ICCPR.

Saeed’s peaceful, private religious gatherings are not a threat to national security, and moreover, General Comment 22 prohibits restricting religious freedom on the basis of national security.

Saeed has been repeatedly beaten, denied access to medical care, subjected to intense interrogations, and threatened with death all because he peacefully exercised his Christian faith.

These violations must be addressed so freedom of religion and belief, including the intertwining rights of religious expression and peaceful assembly, are reinforced as a cornerstone upon which peace may be established. The ECLJ recommends that the HRC condemn every practice that prevents individuals from freely choosing and practicing their religion, and request that Saeed be released immediately!

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