LA PUENTE (CBSLA.com/AP) — A retired Southern California pastor with a history of overseas activism was detained in Iran after staging a protest outside a prison, demanding the release of Iranian Christians.
Pastor Eddie Romero crossed into Iran from Turkey on Oct. 14 as part of a tourist group, according to the Pasadena Star-News.
His daughter, Sarah Yetter, says Romero broke away from the group and reappeared Monday at Evin Prison in Tehran, chanting “Let my people go.”
Romero protested on behalf of five prisoners who are currently being held at Evin Prison: Farshid Fathi, an Iranian Christian pastor; Saeed Abedini , a naturalized American citizen from Iran who started an orphanage in Tehran and was arrested in 2012; Mostafa Bordbar, a Christian activist; Alireza Seyyedian, a member of a Christian home church; and Mohammed Ali Dadkhah, a prominent human rights lawyer in Tehran and co-founder of Defenders of Human Rights in Iran.
Yetter says Romero broadcast about six minutes of his protest on the Internet using a smartphone hidden in his pocket.
He surrendered to guards who brought him inside the prison for questioning. His current whereabouts are unknown.
In a prerecorded video, Romero, who serves as a minister at Hacienda Christian Fellowship in La Puente and as an instructor of religion, ethics and philosophy at Mt. San Antonio College, called for Fathi, Abedini, and other religious protesters being held in Evin Prison to be released immediately.
“These are men of faith and conscience; they bring good to this society, and nothing bad at all,” he said.
A statement from Exodus8one, Romero’s para-church organization, said Romero is seeking “the release of these prisoners as well as for the government of Iran to restore it’s (sic) former commitment to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which they have already signed and ratified.”
“The government of Iran has a well documented history of jailing religious minorities,” Yetter said in a statement. “Pastor Eddie hopes that his protest and surrender in a public manner will draw the attention of the watching world to the plight of jailed pastors and journalists in a country that has effectively closed its doors to human rights organizations and observers.”
A self-professed Christian “gadfly,” Romero was arrested in Beijing during the 2008 Olympics after demanding the release of five Chinese activists. He was also arrested in 2012 in downtown LA at a protest against the then-vice president of China.
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