BOISE, Idaho (BP) — “Be patient and endure.” From an Iranian jail cell, Saeed Abedini penned those words in a letter to his daughter Rebekka for her seventh birthday this year.
But as the American pastor marked a year in Iran’s brutal Evin Prison with no hint of a coming release, “enduring” is taking a toll on wife and two children in Boise, Idaho.
Rebekka and her brother Jacob, 5, know they’re growing up without their father present to mark milestones or sing to them at bedtime. Abedini’s wife Naghmeh — who hates flying — keeps an intense travel schedule speaking and lobbying for her husband’s release, according to WORLD Magazine.
To a degree, she’s seeing some payoff. On the heels of President Obama expressing concern for Abedini during in a Sept. 27 phone call with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, the European Parliament called on Iran’s government Oct. 10 to release the pastor and seven other prisoners. Human rights lawyer Attieh Fard also addressed the issue of Iran’s mistreatment of Christians at a Sept. 24 meeting of the United Nations Human Rights Council, urging Rouhani to release 42 Iranian Christians in prison and 45 awaiting trial, according to World Watch Monitor, a religious liberty advocacy organization.
“It is obvious that the Islamic government of Iran has taken actions to prevent access of both Christians and the public to Christian societies, to churches, to Christian literature and religion, despite the Christians’ constitutional, national and international rights,” Fard said. “Now that Iran has said it is committed to its international obligations, it should in fact start to take measures to protect these constitutional rights.”