Sunday, November 24, 2013

Pastor Saeed Abedini Alive But Still Held in Deadly Iranian Prison as Iranian Family Allowed Visitation

By Jeremy Reynalds
Senior Correspondent for ASSIST News Service

WASHINGTON D.C . (ANS) -- For the first time since he was abruptly transferred from Evin Prison to Rajai Shahr Prison earlier this month, American Pastor Saeed Abedini was allowed visitation with his Iranian family.
Pastor Saeed Abedini with his wife Naghmeh
and their children.
According to a story by Jordan Sekulow for the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ), this is a positive sign that international pressure continues to work to keep Abedini alive.

Abedini's Iranian family has, for the past two weeks since his transfer, been prevented from visiting him - something they had previously been permitted to do once a week during his imprisonment in Evin Prison.

The ACLJ said it is also the first physical confirmation of Abedini's condition and life since his transfer to the brutal prison.

Abedini remains in the violent criminal ward - Ward 3 - of Rajai Shahr, sharing a three meter by three meter cell with other prisoners. This ward of the deadly prison holds some of the worst criminals in Iran - murderers and rapists.

International human rights organizations have reported that prisoner on prisoner violence, including murder, is routine at Rajai Shahr Prison.

Abedini's situation remains serious. However, the ACLJ said it's encouraged that his Iranian family was allowed vis itation - and that his Iranian family was able to see him face-to-face and communicate with him.

Abedini has yet to receive the medication he has been prescribed for internal injuries suffered at the hands of his captors.

The ACLJ said, "We believe that prayer and strong international pressure - the outcry of hundreds of thousands of people around the world - are keeping Pastor Saeed alive."

Last week the U.S. Senate unanimously passed a bipartisan resolution calling for the release of this U.S. citizen, and key members of the European Parliament wrote a letter raising Abedini's case.

A similar resolution is pending in the U.S. House of Representatives. The House Foreign Affairs Committee has announced that it will take up the resolution (H. Res. 147) this Wednesday. These statements, resolutions, and letters from U.S. and international government leaders are key to Abedini's case.

The ACLJ said, "We must not allow him to be forgotten. We must not allow him to disappear.

We continue to urge President Obama - who has previously directly spoken out about Pastor Saeed's case - and the U.S. State Department to reengage this issue at the highest levels. As international negotiations continue with Iran regarding its nuclear program, Pastor Saeed's freedom must be a chief concern. Human rights and specifically religious freedom - the first freedom - is a critical step forward for any nation on the world stage."
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