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ICC Note: Today marks one year since Saeed Abedini was placed into Iran’s Evin prison. He is imprisoned simply because of his Christian faith, which the Iranian state has deemed a threat to national security. Saeed has been sentenced to eight years, though his family is fearful that is the same as a death sentence with the harsh treatment Saeed has faced.
09/26/13 Iran (Daily News) – Exactly one year ago Thursday, U.S. citizen Saeed Abedini was thrown into Iran’s notoriously brutal Evin prison for his Christian faith.
The Idaho pastor’s supporters are marking the grim anniversary by gathering in more than 100 town squares across America and in 15 other nations to pray for his swift release. His wife, Naghmeh Abedini, has rallied thousands to her husband’s cause, including evangelist Billy Graham, Secretary of State John Kerry, the White House and multiple top-selling Christian musicians.
But Saeed Abedini’s absence is most deeply felt by his two little children.
On Sept. 12, Rebekka Abedini celebrated her second birthday without her dad. Her dad was supposed to be back from Iran in time for her birthday last year, but he was detained in July. The 7-year-old asked her mom how many more birthdays her dad will miss.
“I did not have an answer,” Nagmeh told Fox.
But the father managed to send his daughter a birthday letter he’d written from his jail cell. In it, he poured out his heart and called his children “little heroes” for staying strong throughout the entire ordeal.
“My Beautiful Rebekka, you don’t realize how much I rejoice and weep when I see your pictures behind the glass window when my parents visit me every week in prison,” he wrote. “Your hair has grown so long and is such a beautiful black color.”
“It is so hard and so heartbreaking for me to see these pictures and to know that I am not there beside you as you grow.”
Saeed Abedini converted from Islam to Christianity 13 years ago. He made frequent trips to his native Iran to help develop the country’s underground church community. He was in Iran to see his parents and help set up an orphanage when the country’s Revolutionary Guard seized him last year in July.
He was sentenced to eight years behind bars at the Evin prison for “undermining the Iranian government,” spending his first four weeks there in solitary confinement. According to the American Center for Law and Justice, which is representing his wife, Saeed Abedini was physically tortured and refused proper medical care.
“I came here to help the kids that did not have mommies and daddies, but my own kids lost their daddy,” the pastor wrote in a letter that his little girl reads every day.
Iranian president Hassan Rouhani is in New York for the General Assembly of the United Nations. Compared to his predecessor, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Rouhani has tried to strike a more moderate tone. Iran said it released 80 of its prisoners before Rouhani’s address at the General Assembly. Saeed Abedini was not one of them.

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