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U.S. Government Responds to Iran Imprisoning Christian Pastor PDF Print E-mail
Friday, 05 April 2013 22:05

Saeed Abedini, an American Christian pastor and dual Iranian-American citizen, has been imprisoned in Iran’s Evin Prison since September 2012. Abedini was visiting Iran helping build an orphanage when the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps detained him. He is facing an eight-year prison sentence for practicing Christianity in Iran, which the Iranian government claims is a threat to national security. On March 21st the U.S. government finally began speaking out against Abedini’s detainment.

Abedini has endured multiple beatings that left him unable to recognize himself, he wrote to his family. He did not receive medical attention because the nurse assigned to him refused to touch a Christian. The U.S. government spoke out after intensive pressure from Congress and the media, along with a petition containing 500,000 signatures calling for Abedini’s release.

On March 21st Ambassador Eileen Chamberlain Donohue addressed Abedini’s case at the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva, stating, “We repeat our call for the Government of Iran to release Mr. Abedini, and others who are unjustly imprisoned, and to cease immediately its persecution of all religious minority communities.” Secretary John Kerry stated March 22nd that he is “disturbed by reports that Mr. Abedini has suffered physical and psychological abuse in prison” and that his mistreatment “violates international norms as well as Iran’s own laws.” Read Secretary Kerry’s full statement here.

Abedini’s wife, Naghmeh, and two children reside in Boise, Idaho.    

Last Updated on Saturday, 06 April 2013 02:25
Missing Japanese Woman Is Suspected Victim in String of Human Rights Crimes
Wednesday, 03 April 2013 00:11

By Dan Fefferman

A 26 year-old Hiroshima woman missing since March 29 may be the latest victim of a string of human rights crimes in Japan, in which relatives abduct and confine adult females in order to force them to abandon their chosen religion and leave their spouses or fiancés. Shockingly, local police may be cooperating with the perpetrators.chains

To protect her privacy, the woman has been identified on as “Ms. M.M.” Human rights organizations say hundreds of women in similar circumstances have been abducted, confined against their will and forced to renounce their religion and break their marriages or engagements. According to a U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) report March 26, Japanese “families and ‘professional deprogrammers’ have abducted thousands of adult individuals to force them to renounce their chosen beliefs.”

“M.M.’s” family had attempted once before to break her faith, in 2012, said a spokesman for the Unification Church in Japan, of which “M.M.” is a member. “She feared she could be abducted and confined so she always carried a GPS device to help locate her in case of a problem.” After becoming concerned when she did not return to her residence on March 29, local church members traced the GPS signal to her parents’ house on March 30, but found no one home when they visited.

When a church staff member called the hospital where she works on April 30, the hospital told him that they got a phone call from M.M.’s mother saying “My daughter needs some time off from work.” M.M. had been working as hospital care-giver in Hiroshima since her graduation from high school in 2005. She had become engaged to her fiancé in a church ceremony earlier this year.

Having confirmed the likelihood of her abduction, friends and co-religionists reported her disappearance to the Hiroshima police on April 1. They showed a police official a note from M.M. explaining that she had been put under “house arrest” for 7 days in January of 2012. They also reported their call the hospital, their visit to her home, and why she carried a GPS device.

Instead of committing to help, the officer replied that “An application to search for a missing person can be submitted only by family members or someone asked by the family members. If this is not the case, we cannot really investigate on it.”

The unwillingness of police to investigate is part of an ongoing problem noted recently by the Brussels-based organization Human Rights Without Frontiers. "One cannot state that there is Freedom of Religion in Japan,” concluded HRWF director Willy Fautre after a fact-finding investigation in 2011. “The failure to provide the victims of such kidnappings with equal protection under the law, and the impunity of those responsible, constitute a serious violation of the Japanese people's constitutionally guaranteed rights and the international human rights standards to which Japan is legally bound. In a related case, the civil trial of 12-year confinement victim, Toru Goto, is continuing in Tokyo. Mr. Goto alleges that he was imprisoned in a small room in an apartment, subjected to frequent “faith-breaking” sessions, denied fresh air and exercise, and starved into severe malnutrition by his captors during this period.

In a related case, the civil trial of 12-year confinement victim, Toru Goto, is continuing in Tokyo. Mr. Goto alleges that he was imprisoned in a small room in an apartment, subjected to frequent “faith-breaking” sessions, denied fresh air and exercise, and starved into severe malnutrition by his captors during this period.

Press Release: UN Universal Period Review Fails to Break Through “Blackout” on Religious Discrimination in Japan


HRWF(Brussels/Geneva, Nov. 1, 2012) – While Japan was lightly criticized for discrimination including religious discrimination during its UN Universal Periodic Review (UPR) on 31 October 2012, the international community failed to note the refusal of Japanese authorities to protect the human rights of thousands of members of minority religions who have been violently abducted by family members and forced to change their religion, Human Rights Without Frontiers (HRWF) reported today.

“Despite having objective evidence of gross negligence by the authorities concerning kidnapping and coercion of Japanese citizens, UN delegations ignored the issue and thus helped Japan maintain its strategy of denial,” said Willy Fautre, president of HRWF, which undertook research on the issue and published a report on “Abduction and Deprivation of Freedom for the Purpose of Religious De-conversion” in late 2011. Human Rights Without Frontiers and other organizations made submissions on the issue to the UN prior to the UPR review and met with numerous UN delegations to ask that the issue be raised with Japanese authorities.

Around eighty (80) delegations took the floor to comment on Japan’s human rights record during the review. They mentioned Japan’s continuing use of the death penalty, problems of migrant workers, child pornography and Japan’s alleged failure to apologize and compensate for wartime atrocities, among other issues. Most praised Japan for its support for the UN and cooperation with the UPR procedure.


Women’s Group Leader Condemns Forced Conversion in Japan

Angelika Selle

Washington , DC – Wealthy, democratic Japan is not ordinarily thought of as an abuser of human rights. But in that nation today, literally thousands of adults – 80 percent of them women -- have been kidnapped by their family members and subjected to forced conversions because of their chosen faith. The abuse of human rights and dignity embodied in these kidnappings cries out for our attention -- and must end! The victimizations are going unpunished by the authorities because the Japanese government views them as "family matters."


"The institutions of the Japanese legislature, courts, and media must be brought to bear to halt the immediate intolerable abuses," said Angelika Selle, president of the Women's Federation for World Peace USA (WFWP). "However, to achieve a true long-term, sustainable solution to the problem, the institution of the Japanese family must be addressed," she added.


Religious Freedom and National Security PDF Print E-mail
Friday, 05 October 2012 15:39


With the world's ever increasing religious diversity, freedom of religion has emerged as a fundamental human rights issue. It also intersects with other foreign policy challenges, including political, social, and economic development. One of the most important but most poorly understood connections is with national security.

In this paper, Dr. William Inboden, a distinguished scholar at the Strauss Center for International Security and Law at the University of Texas-Austin, discusses the correlation between religious persecution and national security threats.

He points out that countries with egregious violations of religious freedom are largely the same as those which pose a threat to the U.S. Therefore, the promotion of religious freedom can serve to lessen existing security threats.

He credits Ambassador Robert Seiple, the first ambassador-at-large for international religious freedom, for in 1999 anticipating the conflicts and security threats that would confront the United States.

You can view Dr. Inboden’s paper here:

Last Updated on Friday, 05 October 2012 16:26

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