Demonstrators protest for Saeed Abedini; 1,000 flowers for 1,000 days in prison

by Vanessa Rodriguez |

(FACEBOOK (undated photo))

WASHINGTON (Christian Examiner) -- A demonstration to mark 1,000 days of unjust imprisonment for American Pastor Saeed Abedini in an Iranian jail takes place today as Christian activists join for prayer in the nation's Capitol fill the building's lower western terrace with 1,000 flowers.

Leading the event, which is part of the #orangejumpsuit awareness campaign, is the D.C. based Church on the Hill, a community known for its protests of Chrisitan persecution and support of human rights and religious freedom.

In a press statement, Church on the Hill Pastor, Rev. Patrick Mahoney declared Pastor Saeed's incarceration an unjust act for his Christian faith that must come to an end.

(1000 days in prison is enough Facebook)June 23 marks 1000 days that American Pastor Saeed Abedini has been jailed and tortured for his Christian faith in the Muslim nation of Iran.

Abedini was first jailed in 2012 while on a humanitarian trip to Iran to help build an orphanage at the encouragement of the government. He was then sentenced to an eight year prison term.

Saeed's wife, Naghmeh, told Christian Examiner earlier this year the charges against him dated back 13 years prior to his arrest. Furthermore, she explained, even then Saeed had done nothing illegal by helping start the home churches which at that time were sanctioned by the leadership of the Muslim nation.

"Iran in their own laws allow for gatherings of religious minorities. They allow house churches so it's not an illegal act," Naghmeh said. "Even though the basis (for his arrest) was house church work, it's not illegal according to the Iranian constitution and even according to laws Iran has agreed with internationally with the UN and other international bodies."

Such injustice are exactly why it's time to use the #orangejumpsuit campaign to help free Saeed, Mahoney said.

Mahoney founded the #orangejumpsuit campaign as a response to the barbarous beheading of Egyptian Coptic Christians captured in Libya who wore orange jumpsuits in videos of the massacre produced by Islamic State militants.

Through the #orangejumpsuit campaign, Mahoney says he also hopes to offer support for those like Abedini who are across the world but not alone. In addition to the demonstration of solidarity, the demonstration is a call to urge for the pastor's release.

Moved to create awareness of Christian persecution, "Every five minutes across the globe, a Christian is killed because of their faith," Mahoney said in a written statement. "Today marks day 1,000 that Pastor Saeed will be spending in an Iranian prison cell for his Christian faith; 1,000 days of being away from his wife and two precious young children; 1,000 days of facing brutal beatings and torture."

According to recent reports, Saeed suffered a beating while trying to leave his prison cell in the first week of June.

"Over the course of his nearly three years in prison, he has suffered numerous beatings, including from prison guards," Christian Examiner previously reported Jordan Sekulow of the American Center for Law and Justice wrote on their website. "He has sustained internal injuries that require surgery. With each beating, his condition worsens. He is suffering because of his Christian faith, beaten and bruised for the Gospel."

Mahoney called Tuesday's planned demonstration a reminder for member of Congress that "millions of Christians are facing persecution and violence around the world."

"Pastor Saeed is an American citizen and it is unthinkable that Congress would move forward with a nuclear deal with Iran while he is being daily tortured in one of their prison cells," Mahoney said.

It is also a demand for Pastor Saeed's release, Mahoney added noting that "actions must speak louder than words regarding religious freedom and human rights."

Mahoney encouraged American Christians unable to attend Tuesday's gathering to fast, pray and wear orange for Pastor Saeed and others suffering persecution. He also suggested several actionable items like calling Congress to demand they work for Saeed's release and to join the #orangejumpsuit campaign on social media.

"We cannot be silent or indifferent when it comes to the persecuted church," Mahoney said.

In a testimony before the U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee earlier this month, Naghmeh said asked representatives, for help and invited them to stand alongside her in fighting for her husband's return. "Today, I ask you to stand with him as he stands for his faith in Jesus. This is the time that Saeed needs his country the most. Please do not abandon him."

Earlier this year, Church on a Hill led a protest against the persecution of Christians in China and the Communist government's demolition of crosses in the Zhejian provinces where more than 100 churches have been destroyed and over 1,000 crosses have been forcibly removed.

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