U.S. Pastor Saeed Abedini has been sent to solitary confinement in Evin Prison in Tehran, Iran, raising concerns for his deteriorating health, family members have confirmed.
Abedini, who is suffering from internal bleeding and problems with his kidneys, and nine other inmates have reportedly been placed in solitary confinement. Although in need of medical help, the pastor has not received any, and his condition seems to be getting worse, the American Center for Law and Justice said in a statement.
"Saeed has internal bleeding and now issues with his kidneys because of the beatings," revealed his wife, Naghmeh.
"We believe that he is being beaten in solitary confinement. We have no way of finding out about his health. There will be no more visitations allowed and we will have no way of knowing how Saeed is doing. Saeed had previously told his family that when he was in solitary confinement in the past, that was the hardest time in his life. That every hour was like one year and that he was losing his memory and his health was deteriorating quickly."
According to the ACLJ, Abedini and a number of other others prisoners had signed a letter to prison officials expressing their dissatisfaction with the lack of medical care they received. The letter apparently did not sit well with the guards and is the reason for their punishment.
Evin Prison, where the U.S. pastor has been held since his arrest last September, is known as one of the most brutal prisons in the world.
The ACLJ, which represents Abedini's family back in the U.S., has been campaigning on behalf of the pastor, whom it says was wrongly convicted in January of "endangering national security." Abedini was sentenced to eight years in prison, but has been warned that if he does not deny his Christian faith and turn back to Islam, that length of time may be extended.
"My response to them is Romans 8:35-39. The reality of Christian living is that difficulties or problems do arise in our lives. Persecution and difficulties are not new occurrences, but are seen often in the Christian life. It is through the suffering and tribulations that we are to enter the Kingdom of God," Abedini, a father of two, said in a previous letter.
A former Iranian political prisoner who also spent time in Evin shared with the ACLJ that it is likely the prison guards are trying to break down the pastor.
"Prison officers use any prison resistance, regardless of whether the prisoner was involved in the resistance, to target and break those prisoners on their list," the former prisoner said. "They took Saeed to solitary confinement to put pressure on his belief and faith. This shows that Saeed has stood strong for his faith."
Pastor Abedini is turning 33 years old on May 7, and the ACLJ has been encouraging people to write support letters, which are being delivered to Evin Prison with the goal of showing the pastor that he is not alone in his struggle.