The U.S. Senate's Committee of Foreign Relations will review a resolution that seeks to free imprisoned Iranian pastor Youcef Nadarkhani while also encouraging Iran to monitor its human rights abuses more closely, especially in cases of religious freedom.
"The Senate resolution supporting Pastor Youcef is a critical symbol of continued international pressure calling for his immediate release," said the American Center for Law and Justice in a press release. The ACLJ has been heavily involved in the pastor's case.
Nadarkhani has remained imprisoned in Iranian jail since Oct. 2009 for his Christian faith, and despite the efforts of the international community to push for his release, the Iranian government continues to keep him behind bars.
The resolution, titled Senate Resolution 385 and drafted by Sen. David Vitter, R-LA, along with seven cosponsors, stands as official condemnation of "the Government of Iran for its continued persecution, imprisonment, and sentencing of Youcef Nadarkhani on the charge of apostasy." The Senate resolution is coupled with House Res. 556, which passed the U.S. House of Representatives with a unanimous vote earlier this year.
The Senate resolution, which was introduced on the same day the House Resolution passed, contains four prominent points. The resolution:
- Condemns Iran for practicing persecution of religious minorities, as well as violating its Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights in the case of Nadarkhani;
- Calls for Iran to release Nadarkhani and all others imprisoned in the country for their religious beliefs;
- Calls on Iran to employ more officials which would specialize in human rights abuses in the country;
- And reaffirms that religious freedom is an international human right which must always be respected and protected by every government.
The ACLJ suggested that the Senate resolution "could not come at a more important time with Pastor Youcef's attorney continuing to face imprisonment himself."
Nadarkhani's lawyer, Mohammad Ali Dadkhah, was sentenced in May to serve nine years in jail without trial for "acting against the national security."
Without legal representation, Nadarkhani's plight worsens tremendously and the ACLJ is hoping the Senate resolution will be passed and pressure Iran to release the evangelical Christian.
Nadarkhani's sons, Daniel and Yoel, await their father's release along with his wife, Fatema Pasindedih.
The Senate committee was set to review the resolution Tuesday, but it was unclear when the panel would vote on the measure.