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U.S. Senators and other world leaders are speaking out this week on behalf of Pastor Saeed Abedini, a 33-year-old U.S. citizen imprisoned an abused in Iran for his religious beliefs.
Senator James Risch (ID) – one of Pastor Saeed’s Senators – recorded a message to be sent directly into the heart of Iran through Voice of America highlighting the human rights abuses against the persecuted pastor.
Senator Mark Kirk (IL) has joined with Canadian Member of Parliament Irwin Colter to highlight the plight of dissidents and prisoners of conscience in Iran, including Pastor Saeed, ahead of today’s presidential election in Iran.
Sen. Kirk and MP Colter write in the Jerusalem Post:
[W]e have launched the Iranian Political Prisoners Global Advocacy Project, where parliamentarians “adopt” Iranian political prisoners and advocate on their behalf. While the Iranian government seeks to silence dissenters, we are determined to make their voices heard. Each victim of repression must be recognized as a real person enduring mental and often physical anguish in a society where human rights and democracy itself have been imprisoned.
They discussed the plight of the Iranian Baha’i community, attorney’s who defend human rights, and Pastor Saeed.
Of Pastor Saeed, this collaboration of political leaders state:
During a visit to Iran last September to see his family and build an orphanage in the city of Rasht, he was arrested for undermining national security through Christian evangelical activities and sentenced to eight years in prison. He has been denied medical treatment for several serious health problems – including internal bleeding due to abuse in prison.
Earlier this month, Abedini was placed in solitary confinement for one week where he spent his 33rd birthday. While he was in what the American Center for Law and Justice has called “a small, dark hole,” more than 50,000 birthday messages were sent to his prison. Pastor Saeed has a wife and two young children.
To secure the release of these and other human rights heroes, Iranian political prisoners must become household names, and their cause must become our cause.
As they aptly conclude, “telling their stories is the very least we can do.”
They are exactly right. To make Pastor Saeed a household name the world over is precisely how we at the ACLJ have been publicly fighting for Pastor Saeed’s freedom, along with our work with world leaders, to pressure Iran for his release.
Well over 600,000 people have signed the petition at SaveSaeed.org to demand his freedom and share his story. This work will continue, and as world leaders and private citizens alike share his story, as they did yesterday in front of Iranian embassies worldwide, it truly has an impact.
Matthew Clark is Associate Counsel for Government Affairs and Media Advocacy with the ACLJ. A lifelong citizen of the Commonwealth of Virginia, he lives with his wife and three boys in Northern Virginia. Follow Matthew Clark: @_MatthewClark.