All Party Parliamentary Group on International Freedom of Religion or Belief
Issued: 10 February 2014, London
CROSS PARTY GROUP OF PARLIAMENTARIANS WELCOMES SUGGESTION OF CLEMENCY FOR AMERICAN PASTOR IMPRISONED IN IRAN
The All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on International Freedom of Religion or Belief welcomes recent statements by Iran’s Foreign Minister Javad Zarif with respect to Saeed Abedini, an American Pastor imprisoned in Iran. The group especially appreciates his statement about the “various clemency measures in Iran that can be introduced, [have] happened in the past, [and] can be introduced again in these cases”.
“While we understand that such a decision rests with the judiciary in Iran, we are encouraged that a high-ranking minister is openly taking this position. We hope that Pastor Saeed Abedini will be released as soon as possible and returned to his family. Such a move would be concrete evidence that the reforming agenda of President Rouhani is becoming a reality,” says Baroness Berridge, Chairman of the APPG.
Pastor Saeed Abedini is a dual-national Iranian/American citizen who converted to Christianity in 2000. In 2012, while Pastor Saeed was working to establish a non-sectarian orphanage in Iran, his home was raided by the Revolutionary Guard and he was taken to Evin Prison. He was held in solitary confinement for four weeks, during which time he was repeatedly interrogated. Pastor Saeed was charged with crimes against national security, the court relying heavily on his activities with Christian house churches between 2000 and 2005. In January 2013 he was sentenced to eight years imprisonment, even though no written verdicts have ever been issued.
On 3 November 2013, Pastor Saeed was moved from Evin Prison in Tehran to Rajai Shahr Prison in Karaj – an extremely dangerous prison where he continues to face life-threatening conditions and treatment. While in Evin Prison, Pastor Saeed suffered severe injuries sustained during interrogations, and his health continues to deteriorate due to his untreated injuries.
The All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on International Freedom of Religion or Belief was established in July 2012 with the following purpose:
“To raise the profile of international freedom of religion or belief as a human right among Parliamentarians, media, Government and the general public in the UK; and to increase the effectiveness of the UK’s contribution to international institutions charged with enforcing this human right.”
The APPG is working alongside the European Centre for Law and Justice (ECLJ) and the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ) to raise the profile of Pastor Saeed’s case in the hope of securing his rapid release from prison in Iran.
For further information please contact Kay Carter, Policy Advisor to the APPG at