Khartoum Re-Arrests Pastor, Holds Others 'Pending Serious Charges'

Khartoum Re-Arrests Pastor, Holds Others 'Pending Serious Charges'


Five months since his initial detention, Sudan’s internal security has re-arrested a local Church of Christ pastor.

 

Rev. Kuwa Shamal joins at least two more Christian leaders in prison expecting charges that could carry the death penalty. He was re-arrested on Tuesday, May 24, by members of the National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS) in Khartoum, reported

 

Together with fellow Sudan Church of Christ (SCC) Pastor Hassan Abduraheem Taour and a Christian convert from Darfur identified as Abdulmonem Abdumawla Issa Abdumawla, the newly jailed pastor is expected to face charges –– including serious ones of espionage and undermining state security.

 

Rev. Shamal, who is the SCC head of missions, was first detained for three days on Dec. 18. He later had to report to the NISS for long hours daily for no obvious reasons – a routine lifted in mid-January and re-imposed a month later.

 

Both pastors Shamal and Taour are originally from the ethnic Nuba, a native group near the border with the now independent South Sudan and among groups resisting ethnic and religious hegemony by Khartoum’s Arab Islamist regime.

 

Rev. Taour has been in detention without legal access since NISS arrested him from his home near Khartoum, also on Dec. 18, 2015.

 

On May 10, the NISS released a 36-year-old leader of the Khartoum Bahri Evangelical Church, Telahoon (Telal) Nogosi Rata, after nearly half a year in detention. Despite his release from Khartoum’s Kober prison, the file of Rata remains with the Attorney General, who could decide to press charges.

 

Even before the latest re-arrest of pastor Shamal, sources requesting anonymity reported that Rev. Taour would face several serious charges related to "undermining national security," charges Sudan has previously used after prolonged detentions of Christians.

 

Shamal’s re-arrest and anticipated charges against Taour and others cap a saga of detentions without charge, incarceration incommunicado and other restrictions lately meted out to Sudan’s oppressed Christian community.

 

Earlier this week (Mon, May 23), the country’s Islamist government announced its intention to further demolish parts of a church compound, MEC said.

 

Part of the land on which the Khartoum Bahri Evangelical Church sits was illegally sold by a committee instituted by the government. Subsequently, the compound was partly demolished by court order.

 

Restrictions

 

According to Sudan’s own law, 45 days from arrest a detainee should either appear before court or be released, a rule which was ignored in both Taour’s and Rata’s cases.

 

A number of other Christian leaders are also thought to be subject to restrictions. Those include Ayub Tilyab, Yagoub Naway (both SCC pastors), Philemon Hassan, and Yamani Abraha of Khartoum El Izba Baptist Church – all have been alternately arrested, released, and then made subject to daily NISS reporting.

 

It is not the first time Khartoum has detained Christians unlawfully, before failing to prove serious charges later brought up against them in courts.

 

In August 2015, Khartoum released two South Sudanese pastors, whom it accused of "spying." Yat Michael and Peter Yen were in prison for eight and seven months, respectively.

 

Meriam Ibrahim, a Sudanese Christian accused of apostatising from Islam, was released in June 2014 after a global outcry.

 

Ibrahim was initially sentenced to death for apostasy and flogging for "adultery" for being a Christian man’s wife. She flew abroad to freedom after a six-month incarceration, during which she gave birth to her baby girl while shackled to the floor. Her 20-month-old son, Martin, was held with her in prison.

 

According to the 2016 Open Doors' World Watch List, Sudan is ranked 8th in a list of 50 countries where Christians face persecution globally. The predominantly Muslim country has a rating of "extreme" and for the past two years has remained among the top 10 offenders.

 

 

Courtesy: World Watch Monitor

 

Publication date: May 27, 2016

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