A report from Sudan says that South Sudanese pastors Yat Michael and Peter Yen remain unable to leave the country following their release from prison two weeks ago.
One of their lawyers told Radio Tamajuz restrictions from the Sudan National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS) are still in place, preventing the two from leaving the country. Their lawyer accused the NISS of prolonging the ban without legal justification.
“It is illegal to keep the two pastors banned from travel,” he said.
The lawyer announced the legal team would attempt other methods to get around the restrictions.
“Please continue to pray for the Lord’s protection over the pastors and their families and for wisdom for their lawyers,” says Jerry Dykstra, Media Relations Director for Open Doors USA. “Obviously, the Sudanese government is refusing to completely carry out the ruling of the judge by banning them from traveling outside the country.”
The two South Sudanese pastors were freed by Ahmed Ghaboush, the Judge of Khartoum North Central Court. Had they been found guilty, the pastors could have faced the death penalty.
Michael had taken his child to Khartoum for medical treatment when he was arrested on Dec. 14, 2014 after preaching at a local church during his stay in Sudan. Yen was arrested in January 2015 when he went to inquire about Michael’s whereabouts. The two men were then reported as missing until Sudanese authorities revealed that they were being held in prison for “crimes against the state.”
In a similar situation over a year ago, Meriam Ibrahim, a Sudanese woman who was pregnant and sentenced to death for not recanting her faith, was freed but then was forced to spend weeks in the U.S. embassy after her release from prison.
Sudan is ranked #6 on the Open Doors 2015 World Watch List of the 50 worst persecutors of Christians. Islam is well rooted in the Sudanese society. The overwhelming majority of the population in Sudan is Sunni Muslim, and Sharia law is the foundation of Sudan’s legal system. The regime is authoritarian and wants to control all aspects of the lives of its citizens.
Blasphemy laws are used country-wide to persecute and prosecute Christians. The arrest, incarceration and extended trial of pastors Michael and Yen illustrate the pressure Christians face in this region.
Compiled by Jerry Dykstra. For media inquiries, contact Christine Cape at 404-545-0085 or Christy Lynn Wilson at 770-401-9842.