The plight of U.S.-Iranian Pastor Saeed Abedini was highlighted by Secretary of State John Kerry during his remarks for the State Department's 2013 Report on International Religious Freedom, with Kerry promising to continue to work for the pastor's release.
"In Iran, U.S. Iranian citizen Pastor Saeed Abedini remains imprisoned. The Iranian authorities sentenced him to eight years behind bars simply because of his religious beliefs. We will continue to call for his release and we will continue to work for it," Kerry stated.
"And make no mistake: We will continue to stand up for religious minority communities under assault and in danger around the world, from Jehovah's Witnesses to Baha'is to Ahmadi Muslims." more >>
Multiple media reports indicate that a Christian in Iran was reportedly sentenced by a judge to have his lips burned with a cigarette after he failed to fast during the month-long Muslim holiday of Ramadan.
Although Islamic rule states that the month-long fasting period of Ramadan only applies to Muslims, the Christian man was reportedly punished publicly in the city of Kermanshah this week. Along with the Christian man's punishment, five Muslim men were reportedly flogged with 70 lashes each for failing to obey the fasting rules of Ramadan, the city's deputy Governor Ali Ashraf Karami told The Daily Mail.
One group, the National Council of Resistance of Iran, has condemned the recent public punishments, arguing that they are examples of Iran's unfair justice system that often target non-Muslim citizens. more >>
A Christian pastor imprisoned for his faith, who had been missing for nearly three weeks and feared to have been executed without notice by Iranian authorities, has been returned to prison in Ghezal Hezar Prison in Karaj, Iran.
Present Truth Ministries, which has been campaigning for Pastor Behnam Irani's release, said on Wednesday that the pastor has been able to get back in touch with his family.
"He was unable to say where he had been taken or what they did to him," the group reported. more >>
Pastor Joel Hunter of Northland, A Church Distributed, who is President Barack Obama's spiritual adviser, has recently returned from a trip to Iran where he spoke with officials and called for the release of Pastor Saeed Abedini, an American citizen.
"One of our main goals in this trip was to create such a different environment which would include giving more leeway to different religions. Now that we have this connection, we were able to discuss these prisoners, specifically in regard to Pastor Saeed Abedini," Hunter said, according to BBC Persia, as translated by the American Center for Law and Justice.
"It was because of this dialogue that we were able to ask the Iranian government for clemency for him and we were able to bring this up with the right person and in the right environment. This opportunity was provided to us by the Iranians themselves and it did not happen because of any pressure from us." more >>
Pastor Saeed Abedini has been severely beaten in Iran while being transferred from the hospital, which he spent the last two months in, back to Rajai Shahr prison, the American Center for Law and Justice reported.
"This is an extremely disappointing development - one that breaks my heart," said Abedini's wife, Naghmeh. "Our family is deeply saddened and we continue to pray for Saeed - for his safety and his release. We are very grateful that so many people around the world continue to pray for Saeed."
The ACLJ, which represents Naghmeh and the couples' two children in the U.S., reported on Tuesday that the transfer occurred without any advance notice. Abedini's family members in Iran added that he was "severely beaten" during the incident, though the precise nature of his injuries was not described. more >>
A Christian pastor is among 30 prisoners who were badly beaten during a raid in Iran's notorious Evin Prison last week, when prison guards are said to have assaulted inmates who protested against an aggressive inspection.
"CSW is extremely concerned by the reported events in Evin Prison. The treatment meted out to these prisoners is unacceptable and is in clear violation of Iran's obligations under article 10 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), which states that prisoners should be treated with humanity and with respect for their inherent human dignity. We call on the authorities to thoroughly investigate this incident, sanctioning those responsible," Christian Solidarity Worldwide Chief Operating Officer Andy Dipper said.
According to the Christian watchdog group, Evangelical church leader Farshid Fathi, who is serving six years in prison for what it says are false political charges, suffered a broken foot and toe during the raid. At least 29 other prisoners were also reportedly wounded, with injuries ranging from fractured skull to broken ribs and limbs. more >>