Sudan: One pastor released, another still in detention

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Sudanese Christians
Cry unto the Lord: A Sudanese Christian prays.
Sudanese Christians
Cry unto the Lord: A Sudanese Christian prays.

REVEREND Kwa Shamal of the Sudan Church of Christ, who was arrested by National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS) officers in December 2015, was unconditionally released on Saturday 16 January 2016. His colleague Reverend Hassan Abduraheem and Christian activist Talahon Nigosi Kassa Ratta, who were also arrested in December 2015, remain in detention.

Reverend Shamal was arrested at his home in Khartoum North on Saturday 19 December 2015. He was conditionally released on Sunday 21 December 2015 and required to report to the NISS office daily, where he was held from 8am to midnight. The conditions of his release were waived on 16 January 2016.

Reverend Hassan Abduraheem, who was arrested on the same day as Reverend Shamal, remains in detention in an unknown location and without having been charged with an offence. His wife submitted a request to visit her husband to the NISS office in Khartoum. Her request was not granted; however, the agency confirmed that Reverend Abduraheem was in their hands.

Christian activist Talahon Nigosi Kassa Ratta, who was arrested by NISS agents in Khartoum on 14 December, is also detained without charge. Mr Ratta is a member of the Sudan Evangelical Presbyterian Church (SEPC), and had been an active campaigner against the confiscation of the church’s property. He was last seen by his parents at Kober Men’s Prison at the end of December 2015, but was subsequently transferred to an unknown location.

The arrests of the Reverends Shamal and Abduraheem and Mr Ratta occurred in the same month that Pastor Hafiz Mengisto, Senior Minister of the Khartoum Bahri Evangelical Church, was tried and acquitted of obstructing a public servant from performing the duties of his office. Pastor Mengisto was initially arrested in July 2015, after he tried to correct the erroneous enforcement of a court order by the police. These cases underscore the growing and systematic harassment of Christian religious leaders in Sudan.

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