Sudan: Calls for release of four Christians facing death penalty

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Christian persecution watchdog Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) has recently called for release of four Christians who are facing death penalty. These four Christians had been arrested a year ago, while CSW has expressed serious concerns over undue prolonged detention. These four Christians including Reverend Hassan Abduraheem, Reverend Kuwa Shamal, Petr Jašek and Abdumonem Abdumawla who were hooked in December 2015 and have been in detention since May 2016.

Christian persecution in Sudan

Authorities had hooked these four Christians in a case related to providing funds to a local man for the purpose of his medical treatment. This young man from Darfur was injured in a demonstration in 2013. Details have it that in December 2015 one of the four detained, Jašek, a Czech national, had travelled to Khartoum. His visit was intended to meet the young man and gave him almost £4,000 for the purpose of his treatment.

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The other three namely Reverend Abduraheem, Reverend Kuwa Shamal and Mr Abdumawla, had facilitated Jašek in arranging the visit. Sudanese authorities had charged the four of them with seven crimes. These charges includes espionage and waging war against the state. Furthermore, the state has claimed that the £4,000 fund was actually not intended for the medical treatment but to facilitate the rebels fighting.

In case the four of them are found guilty and the charges are indicted upon them, they are likely to face the capital punishment. Christian Solidarity Worldwide further claimed that since the arrest of Jašek, he was never allowed to contact freely with his family. Moreover, he was not allowed to contact his legal representative at the same time the concerned authorities had not allowed the family of Reverend Abduraheem to meet him until May 2016.

While remaking in this regard, CSW’s Chief Executive Mervyn Thomas stated: “This month marks one year since 4 men were arrested in Sudan on grave charges which they have denied, but which have been brought against them simply for extending compassion to a man in need of medical treatment.

In Rev Shamal’s case, being a senior Christian leader and a member of the Nuba ethnic groups is sufficient for him to be targeted by the security services. We urge the Sudanese authorities to immediately and unconditionally release these men and to drop all charges against them.”

United States Commission for International Religious Freedom stated: “Religious freedom conditions in Sudan deteriorated in 2015 as government officials stiffened penalties for apostasy and blasphemy and continued to arrest persons accused of apostasy and Christians. The government of Sudan, led by President Omar Hassan al-Bashir, prosecutes individuals for apostasy, imposes a restrictive interpretation of Shari’ah (Islamic law) and applies corresponding hudood punishments on Muslims and non-Muslims alike, and represses and marginalizes the country’s minority Christian community.

In 2016, USCIRF again recommends that Sudan be designated as a “country of particular concern,” or CPC, under the International Religious Freedom Act (IRFA) for engaging in systematic, ongoing, and egregious violations of freedom of religion or belief. The State Department has designated Sudan a CPC since 1999, most recently in July 2014.