This morning Pastor Saeed’s wife, Naghmeh, had the opportunity to present the case of 33-year-old American Pastor Saeed Abedini before the United Nations (U.N.) Human Rights Council.
For the first time, Pastor Saeed’s wife, Naghmeh, was able to speak directly to the U.N. – to make her husband’s case in her own voice. At 10:30 this morning (Geneva time), she made a passionate and heartfelt plea for husband’s life, urging the nations of the world to stand up for religious liberty and Iran to release Pastor Saeed, a U.S. citizen.
For nearly a year, the government of the Islamic Republic of Iran has tried to silence my husband, Saeed Abedini, through illegal imprisonment, torture, and threats against our family. Why is he being held – because he exercised his rights of religious freedom, expression, and peaceful assembly. This past week and today, this Council has called on member states to recognize and uphold these fundamental freedoms. I hope that my presence here today will put a face to those who suffer when a government does not uphold its obligation to protect these freedoms. . . .
My husband has broken no Iranian law – he simply exercised fundamental rights that Iran has acknowledged before this body that it would uphold. Iran has kept Saeed imprisoned because he believes that Jesus Christ died on the cross for forgiveness of sin and to reconcile humanity to God.
While I do not know the outcome of my husband’s case or whether he will live or die in Evin prison, I do know that the international community must do more to ensure that Iran upholds its obligations to protect all human rights for every individual, regardless of religious creed, nationality, or ethnic background. I call on this body to do more. Each member state here has an obligation, and I respectfully ask that you join me in this fight. Please help bring my husband home to me and our two young kids.
Naghmeh’s complete statement, as prepared, is available here.
It is impossible to overstate the importance of this unique opportunity for Pastor Saeed’s wife to present her husband’s case directly to world leaders. They looked her directly in the eyes, heard her pleas and saw her pain. The empathy and compassion of the world could be felt as she delivered her remarks. Her comments were well received by non-governmental organizations as well as member states.
In fact, Naghmeh reflected on the importance of this testimony before the Council:
“Being able to present my husband’s case before the United Nations forces countries that generally talk about human rights in abstract themes to stare at the face of persecution. I am not just an advocate, but a wife currently enduring the effects of Iran’s human rights abuses. It is important that countries be able to see the human rights abuses as a reality, not simply abstract words. I do hope that through this experience, countries will join me in advocating for my husband’s immediate release.
On one hand, speaking to world leaders stretches me far beyond my comfort zone. But on the other hand, it gives me purpose as Saeed’s wife to know I am doing everything I can for my husband. I cannot ask others to stretch themselves on behalf of my husband by writing letters, demonstrating before Iranian embassies and the such if I do not first set the example myself. I will continue to urge the international community to stand for my husband and all prisoners of conscience in Iran, no matter how difficult it may be for me, and I hope and pray there is someone empathic on the other end to hear my cries.”
Naghmeh’s testimony is significant and comes just days after I had the opportunity to raise Pastor Saeed’s case before the Human Rights Council detailing our ongoing international efforts to free Pastor Saeed.
And one of the most powerful developments is the fact that more than 600,000 people around the world are standing with Pastor Saeed – demanding his freedom.
If you haven’t done so already, please take a moment and add your name to our petition. Share his story. SaveSaeed.org.