I am here on this first anniversary of Saeed Abedini’s detention in Iran to stand in solidarity with those participating in vigils around the world, from Idaho to Brazil to Nigeria. The United States government defends the universal rights of Pastor Abedini and others who face ill-treatment and discrimination simply for exercising those rights. I reiterate Secretary Kerry’s calls for the Iranian government to allow consular access to Pastor Abedini by Swiss authorities and for Iranian authorities to release him. Such mistreatment violates international norms as well as Iran’s own laws.
The freedom to choose and practice one’s religion is a fundamental human right enshrined in international law. Protecting religious freedom is a top priority of the U.S. government, and we will continue our efforts until Pastor Abedini has returned safely to his loved ones and until the rights of all people are respected in every corner of this globe.
I would also like to acknowledge the significant impact these violations have on the loved ones of the victims. The Department of State has maintained regular contact with Mrs. Abedini, and we are humbled by her and her children’s resolve in the face of such adversity. The Abedini family has not wasted a moment in the fight for Saeed’s release. There are dozens of vigils around the world taking place today thanks to the dedication of a wife to her husband. Our thoughts and prayers are with Saeed and his family as we continue our efforts to bring Pastor Abedini home.
- Related: Faces of Iran: Citizens Unjustly Imprisoned