It was on a Wednesday that the Sudanese government workers demolished yet another Christian church. On the following day the Sudanese Church of Christ – one of the largest Christian denomination in the region – wrote an open letter to the government protesting the “systematic violation of Christian religious freedoms.”
“This is the boldest move the SCOC leadership has yet made against the constant pressure they have been facing from the government,” an anonymous church worker said. “Over the past years the SCOC leadership has complained against all violations of religious rights to all pertinent government bodies but it is the first time such a letter is distributed on social media.”
In the letter dated May 16, 2017 the Headquarters of the SCOC detailed the “hard conditions” they have faced in recent years, including the government’s failure to allocate land for the construction churches, the confiscation of church property, travel restrictions on senior church leaders and the demolition of churches.
The most recently demolished church – located in the Algadisia district of east Khartoum – had existed since 1983 but another person – who refused to provide proof – claimed they had rights to the land. Even though the church showed ownership documents, they authorities refused to hear the case, stating they had orders to carry out the demolition.
Earlier, on May 7th, officials demolished the SCOC church in Suba, Al Aradi. There have now been over 25 churches belonging to various denominations that have been designated for demolition by the Sudanese government, which claims these churches violate the designated purposes for these plots of land.
“We feel deeply sorry and strongly condemn these abusive procedures against the holy places, and we hold the National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS) responsible for the damages and other consequences (that) can be caused due to their confiscation of the documents, we also hold the land authorities of the Ministry of the Planning and Infrastructure development of the Khartoum state responsible for the attacks against the church and (for) the financial damages caused,” the letter stated.
In addition, the letter calls for the following:
- for national, regional and international human rights institutions to intervene on behalf of the church in Sudan to ensure an end to the mentioned violations.
- For the presidency to allocate land to churches, to complete registration of churches and guarantee Christians their constitutional right to own land in all of Sudan’s states
- To order NISS to return all arbitrarily confiscated land ownership and travel documents and prevent the NISS from any further violation of Christians’ rights
- To order the ministry of planning and infrastructure to complete the registration of SCOC’s congregations in Suba and El Ezba and provide fair compensation for all damages suffered.
The Sudanese Minister of Guidance and Endowments announced in April 2013 that no new licenses would be granted to build new churches in the country, claiming there is no need for new church buildings because many mainly Christian South Sudanese refugees returned to their own country after the secession of South Sudan in 2011. Authorities are also continuing the gradual confiscation of properties belonging to the Sudan Presbyterian Evangelical Church in Bahri (Khartoum North) and Omdurman.
Sudan is ranked #5 on Open Doors’ World Watch List and has long been a country extremely oppressive to Christian religious freedom. Our brothers and sisters in Sudan need your constant prayerful support. To learn more about what is happening to them and other Christians around the globe sign up to receive prayer alerts directly to your inbox by clicking here.