The Special Envoy for the Promotion of Freedom of Religion or Belief outside the EU, Jan Figel, who visited Sudan in mid-March, has called for the pardon of two imprisoned Sudanese men, one a leader in the Sudan Church of Christ. Both were sentenced along with the now-released Czech aid worker Petr Jasek. Since Jasek’s pardon and release on Feb. 27, supporters say there are no longer grounds to keep the other two in prison. Both of the men were arrested in December 2015 for “aiding and abetting” Petr Jasek in his alleged “spying.”
On Jan. 29, Rev. Hassan Abduraheem and geologist Abdumonem Abdumawla were found guilty by a court in the Sudanese capital Khartoum of aiding Jasek in “spying,” incitement of hatred between religious groups, and propagation of false news. They were each sentenced to 12 years in prison, and their families wept as they heard the verdict.
Mr. Abdumawla was arrested by Sudan’s National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS) in Dec. 2015, after he began collecting money to help his friend, Ali Omer, a young Darfuri student who had been injured and seriously burned during a demonstration in July 2013. In the course of his campaign to help his friend, Mr Abdumawla was put in contact with Rev. Abduraheem and Petr Jašek, who then donated money toward Mr Omer’s treatment. Abdumawla and Abduraheem are both still being held in al-Huda Prison in Omdurman .
Petr Jasek, found guilty of charges and sentenced to more than 20 years in prison, was pardoned and freed by President Omar Bashir in February, but Rev. Abduraheem and Mr. Abdumawla still remain in prison more than a month later.
The courts have yet to rule on the appeals filed by the men. The chairman of Sudan’s Legislation and Justice Committee at the National Assembly, Ahmed El Tijani, also reported that Jan Figel asked about the demolition of several churches. El Tijani told him that the churches were demolished for land-ownership reasons and reaffirmed that some mosques have been demolished for the same reason. Last February, there were reports that Khartoum state authorities had decided to demolish 25 churches, a decision that was later suspended.
Following the secession of South Sudan in 2011, seven former Sudanese dioceses moved to South Sudan leaving only two dioceses for the small Christian minority in Sudan, mainly in South Kordofan and Khartoum states. Jan Figel said that the exchanges he had during his visit “demonstrated readiness of Sudanese partners to engage in continuous and constructive dialogue on religious diversity in Sudan, Horn of Africa and globally.”
Father, we bring before You today Pastor Hassan Abduraheem and Abdumonem Abdumawla as they await the decision on their appeal. We pray for justice to be granted and their release from prison ordered. Keep their eyes focused on You and Your Word, Lord God, that they will take courage in Your sufficiency and not be overwhelmed by their own otherwise dire circumstances. Thank You for the ways they have served You and had compassion on the young Darfuri student. We pray, too, for their families who are in distress over their imprisonment. Lift them up in Your care and protection; grow their faith through these troubling circumstances; strengthen them to stand in faith and courage as they face each day of uncertainty. Fill them all with the joy of Your presence and reunite them soon. On their behalf, we pray the words of Psalm 70:5 “But I am poor and needy; hasten to me, O God! You are my help and my deliverer; O Lord, do not delay!” In the name of Jesus who is our ready help in times of trouble. Amen.
Source: World Watch Monitor