Worthy Christian News » Christian Persecution » Christian Persecution - Middle East » Iran » Iran: Pastor's Three-Year Anniversary of Imprisonment
By Joseph DeCaro, Worthy News Correspondent
(Worthy News) - The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom has just marked the three-year anniversary of Iran's imprisonment of an American pastor.
According to USCIRF, although Pastor Saeed Abedini was arrested for helping to establish a house church movement in the Islamic Republic, he was given an eight-year sentence for allegedly "threatening the national security of Iran." As a result, Abedini has spent hard time in both Evin and Rajai Shahr prisons where he has been physically and psychologically abused.
Since President Hassan Rouhani assumed office in August 2013, at least 350 religious prisoners of conscience -- including hundreds of Sunni Muslims, Baha’is, Christians and several Sufis -- have been kept by Iran under lock and key.
"The Iranian government’s continued imprisonment of Pastor Abedini is a gross violation of the internationally-protected right to freedom of religion or belief," said USCIRF Chairman Robert P. George. "The Iranian government actively suppresses any religious belief and activity it disapproves of and denies any semblance of rule of law that meets international standards. USCIRF calls on the Iranian government to ensure Pastor Abedini's safety and immediately and unconditionally release him. USCIRF also calls on the United States and the international community to raise Pastor Abedini’s case in all international fora and for the U.S. government to freeze the assets and entry into the U.S. of all Iranian officials responsible for serious violations of religious freedom and related human rights against Pastor Abedini and other prisoners of conscience."
Under the International Religious Freedom Act, the U.S. State Department has designated Iran as a "Country of Particular Concern" for its systematic violations of religious freedom, to include detention, torture and even execution based primarily upon the faith of the accused.