A little more than 5 months ago, the phone woke Naghmeh Abedini in the middle of the night. The frantic voice on the other end told her that 5 revolutionary guards had raided the house and taken her husband, American pastor Saeed Abedini. No one could tell her where he was taken or what would happen to him. Nine months later, she is scheduled to testify at a House hearing on March 15, 2013 to shine a light on the plight of her husband who is still imprisoned in Iran.
Living a waking nightmare
Saeed said goodbye to his family on June 22, 2012. Naghmeh embraced her husband and thought they would be separated for a few weeks as he returned to Iran to work on the building of an orphanage. Instead, she has lived a waking nightmare and her husband has been sentenced to 8 years in the horrific Evin Prison because of his Christian faith. Since then, Naghmeh has been his voice, as she works endlessly trying to gain her husband's freedom. A Facebook account has been set up to organize prayer, and to get the word out, because the story has for the most part been overlooked.
"This nightmare exists because Saeed refuses to deny Christ. He is standing up for what he believes. Are we going to stand up with him? Are we going to be a voice for him when the Iranian government is doing all it can to silence him?" – Naghmeh Abedini in a letter to ACLJ
Petition for Saeed's release
Saeed Abedini is a U.S. Citizen imprisoned in Iran. The President, Senate, and House of Representatives have been petitioned to work for his release. A copy of the petition can be read on Change.org.
"We ask you to specifically request Iran to immediately release Saeed home to the US, thus following through on their own proclaimed commitment to increase religious tolerance and by following their own constitution. Please ask all of Iran's partners to make this same request for immediate return to the US." – from the petition for Saeed Abedini's release, Change.org
State Department not participating in hearing on the Hill
Rep. Frank Wolf, R-VA., chairman of the Capitol Hill has commissioned the holding of the hearing which will focus on the plight of religious minorities in Iran. Naghmeh Abedini and other family members are slated to testify in a House hearing on March 15, 2013. Congressional hearings have the potential of stepping up attention on the issue.
On March 8, The Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission invited the State Department to take part in the hearing inviting them to bring in a State Department witness to speak on the lead-off panel, but on March 14 the State Department responded that no one was available. While the Obama administration has publicly called for Saeed's release, in an interview with Fox News, Naghmeh Abedini said she had not heard from President Obama or the secretary of state. Rep. Wolf expressed his concern, “The very fact that the United States government is not speaking out sends a very powerful message.
Saeed has family in Iran who has been able to visit him in prison from time to time, and they are concerned because he is suffering from internal bleeding from the beatings he has endured. He converted to Christianity in 2000 and became a U.S. citizen in 2010 when he married his American wife, but the Iranian government does not recognize Saeed's American citizenship.
In her prepared testimony for Friday's hearing, Naghmeh Abedini plans to make it clear she is disappointed with the U.S. government's response to her husband's plight, and she continues to ask Christians everywhere to pray for her husband.