This week, Christians will be bombarding the White House with Free Saeed postcards with two major objectives. First, supporters hope to raise awareness regarding the Iranian imprisonment of American Pastor Saeed Abedini. Second, participants want to let President Obama know that “we the people” have not forgotten our fellow American and brother in chains, and we don’t want him to either.
According to Melody Aguilar, the coordinator of this most recent SaveSaeed campaign, close to 75,000 postcards have already been distributed through Trinity Worldwide Reprographics. Today, those cards will begin making their way to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue with the following pre-printed message:
Mr. President, a man in your position has been given great power and responsibility to represent every American, whether on domestic or foreign soil. Please hold to your own words, that no one is left behind. We the American people ask you to do everything within your power to bring U.S. citizen, pastor, husband and father, Saeed Abedini, home to his family from his time of incarceration in Iran.
The postcard response has been encouraging as many individuals, churches and other non-profits from around the country have joined forces with Naghmeh Abedini, Saeed’s wife, in an attempt to finally secure the release and return of her husband. But she and the rest of her family are certainly not the only ones championing his immediate release. Nation-wide, Saeed petitions have a garnered more than 610,000 signatures as ordinary American citizens make their voices heard. Spear-headed by evangelist such as Franklin Graham and Pastor Greg Laurie, several prayer vigils have been held over the past 24 months. Artists such as Toby Mac, Michael W. Smith, Steven Curtis Chapman, Mercy Me, Skillet, Relient K, and Audio Adrenaline have also been involved, lending their voices to raise awareness.
Official responses regarding Saeed’s imprisonment have come from Secretary of State John Kerry as recently as July, 2014, calling on Iran to release Saeed. In May of 2013, The White House issued a statement calling on the Iranian government to provide Saeed with medical treatment and for his release. The House of Representatives held two emotional hearings which highlighted Pastor Saeed’s plight. Multiple nations have called for Saeed’s release. On September 16th, 2014, ACLJ attorneys argued Saeed case before the United Nations. And, as part of his concluding remarks presented before the United Nations Human Rights Council Working Group on the arbitrary and illegal detention of Abedini, Dr. Gregor Puppinck, Executive Director of the ECLJ stated,
We therefore respectfully urge this body to act, to take up the cause of Mr. Abedini, and call on the Islamic Republic of Iran to immediately and unconditionally release Mr. Abedini. It is time for the Islamic Republic of Iran to respect the rights of Mr. Abedini and return this innocent man to his wife and two young children.
The postcard blitz was planned for September, in part, because this month marks the second anniversary of Saeed’s imprisonment. As a 34-year-old pastor, father, and husband from Idaho, Saeed Abedini is currently imprisoned in Rajaei Shahr prison (formerly imprisoned in Evin prison in Tehran, Iran). On July 28th, 2012, during a visit to Tehran to visit family and to finalize the board members for an orphanage he was building in Iran, the Iranian Revolutionary Guard arrested and detained Saeed, asserting that he must face criminal charges for his Christian faith. Since that time he has been severely beaten, denied critical medical attention, and held in solitary confinement. Repeated death threats from jihadist’s prisoners in his cell block make it highly unlikely Saeed will live to complete his eight year sentence. Iranian officials have indicated their willingness to release Saeed. The price of freedom: renounce Jesus Christ and embrace Islam.
According to Marion Smith of the Daily Signal,
Abedini’s fate may seem like a distraction to some, but the freedom of Abedini and thousands of persecuted and imprisoned Iranian citizens should be the centerpiece of America’s diplomatic approach to Iran—for both moral and material reasons. Iran continues to unjustly imprison a number of its citizens for their political or religious beliefs…While the American government is not legally responsible for the people of Iran, the U.S. State Department is responsible for protecting the safety and interests of American citizens abroad. In this regard, Abedini’s case has [so far] been a failure.”
For more information on efforts to free Saeed, visit the Be Heard Project or SaveSaeed on Facebook. For more information on Saeed and other Christians imprisoned for their faith, Voice of the Martyrs has an excellent website with current updates.
“And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honored, all the members rejoice with it.” I Corinthians 12:26