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EU Demands Pastor Saeed’s Release at UN, Where is the US?

Yesterday, despite the silence of the U.S. State Department, your voice was heard at the United Nations (U.N.) on behalf of imprisoned American Pastor Saeed Abedini.

At the request of over 435,000 individuals around the world who signed our petition, the European Union (EU) demanded Iran release American Pastor Saeed at the U.N. Human Rights Council in Geneva.

Our petition to the U.N., EU and Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights is making a tremendous impact, and Pastor Saeed’s case is being heard internationally.

Below is the video of the EU’s short presentation yesterday before the Human Rights Council.  Watch as they call for the release of this American Pastor.

The EU specifically stated:

We deplore the systematic harassment of members of religious minorities. We call on the Iranian authorities to refrain from such practices and to ensure respect for freedom of religion and belief. We call for the immediate release of prisoners of conscience, including Pastors Behnam Irani, Farshid Fathi and Saeed Abadini and the leaders of the Baha ́i community.

Not only was the EU willing to raise the case of American Pastor Saeed but also called for the release of two other imprisoned Iranian pastors who we have been telling you about.

Every member of the United Nations (not just HRC members) was given an opportunity to offer a statement, specifically regarding the state of human rights in Iran.  As a member of the Human Rights Council, the United States had this right yesterday, and chose not to mention the case of Pastor Saeed, a U.S. citizen.  Instead, the U.S. presentation focused on an Iranian blogger.

A U.S. citizen is wrongly imprisoned, being tortured, and suffers internal bleeding, and when given the opportunity to give a statement on human rights abuses in Iran, the U.S. State Department refused to mention Pastor Saeed.

As I told Fox News this morning (which you can watch in the video at the top of this post), I’m about as outraged today at the State Department as I have been throughout this entire process.

The White House, the State Department, and Secretary of State John Kerry have repeatedly said that the State Department is “actively engaged in the case,” essentially asking the public to believe they are doing all they can.  The White House said, “We obviously have a variety of means, including this podium to express our views on matters like this . . . .”  We specifically requested that the State Department raise Pastor Saeed’s case at the U.N. Human Rights Council.

Yet, when the U.S. State Department representative to the U.N. Human Rights Council took to the podium to discuss human rights abuses in Iran specifically, they were silent.  The U.S. State Department had an opportunity to raise this case in the international community, and as you can see from the video of their presentation below, they were absolutely silent about the abuse of this U.S. citizen.

Not only did the U.S have the opportunity to raise Pastor Saeed’s case, the presentation was in direct response to the Report of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran, which directly raised Pastor Saeed’s case.

It is an embarrassment that the U.S. State Department refused to bring up the case of a U.S. citizen, while the EU and Australia were left to raise Pastor Saeed’s case on their own.

Today, in their presentation before the United Nations, Australia stated, “We welcome the release of Mr. Youcef Nadarkhani who had been sentenced to death for apostasy, but we are concerned about the case of Mr. Saeed Abedini who was sentence to eight years jail in January this year for Christian religious activities. We urge Iran to investigate this case.”

The ACLJ’s international affiliate, the European Centre for Law and Justice (ECLJ), again today raised Pastor Saeed’s case before the U.N.  Our statement provided:

Arrested during his visit to Iran to build a non-sectarian orphanage, for children of all religions, Iranian authorities incarcerated Saeed in Evin prison and sentenced him to eight years imprisonment, Although his official charge was cloaked as a national security concern, Pastor Saeed was put on trial solely because of his religious, peaceful and humanitarian activities.

Pastor Saeed’s imprisonment is a clear violation of the rule of law and of his fundamental right to exercise his religion of choice. . . .

Pastor Saeed has been repeatedly beaten and subjected to intense interrogations, he has been deprived of sleep and is suffering from internal bleeding.

He has been denied access to proper medical care, his is threatened with death all because he converted to the Christian faith.

These violations must be addressed. The ECLJ . . . requests that Pastor Saeed receives the proper medical care and be released immediately!

This presentation was in response to the Special Rapporteur’s report, which provided in pertinent part:

A source close to the case, reported that Iranian authorities have detained Mr. Saeed Abedini. Abedini is a Protestant Christian minister. Abedini was reportedly been arrested several times before 2009 for his house church activities but has claimed while still a Christian has stopped working with house churches in Iran to avoid government scrutiny. Abedini had his passport seized while entering Iran from Georgia in late June 2012. The authorities reportedly told Abedini that he would be summoned to court on September 26th. On that date, Abedini’s home was raided by security agents, who confiscated documents, computers, and other personal items and brought Abedini to Evin Prison. Abedini spent four weeks in solitary confinement in Evin before being transferred to Section 3, Ward 209 of the prison. While in solitary confinement, Abedini’s interrogators allegedly disoriented him with tactics such as sleep deprivation. During his time in Ward 209, Abedini’s interrogators reportedly beat him; he was initially denied access to medical treatment for his injuries but later was allegedly taken for treatment. His family was able to hire a lawyer for his defense in December 2012 and he has since been charged with “acting against national security”. His trial is scheduled for 21 January 2013.

While it is very encouraging that the EU, Australia, and even the UN Special Rapporteur have taken an interest in Pastor Saeed’s case, it is astonishing that the U.S. government failed to take this opportunity to stand up for the a U.S. citizen, abused and imprisoned for his religious beliefs.

We will continue fighting for Pastor Saeed’s freedom.  Ahead of this Friday’s congressional hearing on Pastor Saeed, please continue to pray, sign the critical petition at SaveSaeed.org, and share his story with the hashtag #SaveSaeed.

RELATED RADIO SHOW

American Pastor Saeed Abedini

Saeed's Case Presented at UN

10:40 AM Mar. 12, 2013

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