Now is time for US to pressure Iran to free Saeed Abedini says his wife

(Photo: Ecumenical News / Peter Kenny)Naghmeh Abedini, the wife of jailed Iranian-American Pastor Saeed Abedini speaking at a human rights conference in Geneva, Switzerland on February 25, 2014.

Naghmeh Abedini, the wife of jailed Iranian-American Pastor Saeed Abedini says she believes now is a good time for the United States to pressure Iran to release her husband.

She spoke at the Geneva Summit on Human Rights and Democracy on Tuesday.

The meeting took place in the Swiss city before the United Nations Human Rights Commission begins its March 3 to 28 sitting.

"At present my husband is suffering from internal injuries that resulted from beatings, but the Iranian government is denying him the necessary medical care needed to treat those injuries," Naghmeh Abedini told the conference on Tuesday.

"Freedom of religion, including the right to change one's religion, is a God-given right of all people, including the Iranian people. No human law should infringe upon that right."

Saeed Abedini was born and raised in Iran then move to the United States. In 2000, he "exercised his God given right" and chose Christianity.

June 2012 was the last time Naghmeh and her children saw Saeed.

(Photo: Ecumenical News / Peter Kenny)Poster of jailed Iranian-American Pastor Saeed Abedini on stage at Geneva Summit for Human Rights and Democracy in Geneva Switzerland on February 25, 2014.

"Never did Saeed aniticipate that when he left for Iran in June 2012, that the Iranian governemnt would break their agreemen and arrest him."

Conference organizers said Cuban human rights activist Jorge Luis García Pérez, known as "Antúnez," was reportedly arrested with several other activists after State security forces raided his home on February 5.

Naghmeh Abedini, told the conference, "I stand before you, not as a lawyer, journalist, or scholar, but as the wife of a husband imprisoned in Iran.


"My husband, Pastor Saeed Abedini, an Iranian-born, American pastor, has been beaten, severely abused and sentenced to eight years in Iran's most deadly prison simply because of his Christian faith."

In an interview with Ecumenical News Abedini said that before the current talks between the United States and Iran over the nuclear issue in the Islamic State, she was told that because there were no diplomatic relations between the two countries it made diplomatic pressure difficult.

"I was expecting the U.S. to have my husband's release as a precondition to those talks," she told Ecumenical News, but that did not happen while she noted that Saeed is in prison merely "because of his belief."

"President Obama did mention Saeed at the prayer breakfast and Secretary of State John Kerry has continually raised Saeed's case.

"Iran is at a desperate time and this is the best time to release my husband," Naghmeh Abedini said also noting that she hoped the United States raises human rights issues with Iran.

She told the conference that even today it is not unlawful to peacefully gather in houses for religious purposes.

"Believers of Shia Islam do so without disruption – but unfortunately, other religious minorities that gather are treated as a threat against the security of Iran," said Abedini.

From being raised in Boise, Idaho in the United States, the situation of her husband awakened in her the need to fight for justice of "those who are silenced - for the Christians, Jews, Baha'is and other human being who are being tortured in Iran simply for their belief."

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