Death Row Inmates Threaten Imprisoned Iranian-American Pastor
Saeed Abedini was transferred from Evin Prison to Rajaee Shahr prison on November 3 after he complained about prison conditions at Evin. He is kept in the violent criminals’ ward at Rajaee Shahr, and the authorities have not agreed to transfer him to another ward despite his family’s requests. “We demanded Saeed’s release, but now we see he has been sent among dangerous prisoners. He and all of us spend every second in worry and fear,” she told the Campaign.
Saeed Abedini is an Iranian-American Christian convert who, after changing his religion to Christianity in 2000, left Iran for the US. He has traveled to Iran many times since his conversion, lastly in July 2012 “to visit his family and continue his work to build an orphanage,” according to his wife. On January 27, 2013, Branch 26 of the Tehran Revolutionary Court sentenced him to eight years in prison for “intending to disrupt Iranian national security by establishing a network of Christian house churches.” An appeals court upheld the sentence and sent Abedini to Tehran’s Evin Prison. He was abruptly transferred to Rajaee Shahr prison on November 3.
“Saeed told his father that his cellmates threaten him at knifepoint to hand over whatever he buys at the prison store. He said that he wakes up many times during the night to find other prisoners hovering over him, intending to take his wallet. Saeed lives in fear and stress day and night, especially as he has witnessed several times that in the fights that break out, other prisoners stabbed each other with knives and the prison guards did not interfere,” said Naghmeh Abedini.
“Saeed’s father visited with him in prison on Monday, December 2. Because of the bad hygienic conditions in his ward, Saeed has lice, and his stomach bleeding and urinary tract infection have worsened, but the prison guards refuse to accept his medication. In fact since November 3 when he was abruptly transferred from Evin Prison to Rajaee Shahr Prison, Saeed’s father has given his medicine to the prison authorities every week, but they don’t accept them. His father said that Saeed’s physical conditions are very poor,” Naghmeh Abedini told the Campaign.
“Saeed’s father has repeatedly begged the authorities to transfer him to a different ward. Even the political prisoners inside Rajaee Shahr Prison have asked for his transfer to their ward, but the authorities told Saeed’s father that he must stay in that ward until the last day of his sentence,” she added.
“On October 31, Ayatollah Iravani, who is an [emeritus] Islamic Studies professor at The Catholic University of America in Washington DC, was able to visit with Saeed in prison. We don’t know how this Ayatollah was allowed to visit with him, because up until then no one other than his family was allowed to visit with Saeed. At that meeting, Ayatollah Iravani asked Saeed about his problems in prison and Saeed explained the chaotic situation in the prison, and about himself and his cellmates. After this visit, he was transferred to Rajaee Shahr Prison as punishment. We think they wanted to punish him,” Abedini told the Campaign.