- (Photo: Standing together for Human Rights in Iran Facebook)
Demonstrations are being planned on Thursday at Iranian embassies around the world for imprisoned Pastor Saeed Abedini and other victims of the Islamic country's human rights abuses, with hopes that they will get the attention of many world leaders.
"The timing of these events aimed at highlighting human rights and Pastor Saeed's case directly to Iranian officials comes as Iran prepares for its own elections next week. It sends a powerful message at a time when Iran is listening," says Jordan Sekulow, the executive director for the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ).
The event, called "Standing together for Human Rights in Iran," promises to be a day of "peaceful demonstrations," scheduled to take place at noon time in every country that decides to hold a demonstration.
The case of U.S. citizen Abedini, who has been in Evin Prison in Tehran since his arrest in September 2012 and was later convicted to 8 years, has been attracting growing international attention. His wife, Naghmeh, was able to speak out on his behalf to the United Nations Human Rights Council for the first time last week.
"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," Naghmeh Abedini told the UN.
The ACLJ, which represents Naghmeh and the couple's two children back in the U.S., has also been campaigning on Abedini's behalf – more than 600,000 people around the world have signed a petition calling for his release.
"As we have repeatedly said, Pastor Saeed is not the only person suffering as a prisoner of conscience in Iran; he is the face of persecution and Iran's blatant violation of human rights," Sekulow added.
Demonstrations are currently scheduled to take place in front of the Iranian Interests Section in Washington D.C., as well as at Iranian embassies in Hungary, Egypt, Sweden and Germany – but the campaign says that anyone around the world can participate in one way or another.
"As the Iranian election nears, the Iranian government has used all methods to silence media and the Iranian people. We need to be louder than ever the day before their election and to let them know we care about the tortures and human rights abuse in Iran," the campaign says on Facebook, and lists a number of ways people can get involved, including spreading word about the demonstration through social media, and posting pictures and stories about people who have been persecuted in Iran.