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Sudan: UPDATE - Pastors' hearing begins

22 August 2016

UPDATE - Pastors' hearing begins

The trial of Hassan Abduraheem Taour and Kuwa Shamal, both Sudan Church of Christ pastors, and Abdulmonem Abdumawla Issa Abdumawla, a Darfuri student, began on Sunday 21 August in Khartoum amid strict security measures.

If you would like to speak out on behalf of Hassan, Kuwa and Abdulmonem, please email advocacy@opendoorsuk.org and we will provide you with more information.

The men are acused of complicity to execute a criminal agreement and waging war against the state, which can carry the death penalty.

The Sudan Tribune reports, "The prosecutor told the judge at Khartoum North Court on Sunday that the complainant accused the defendants of conducting intelligence activities and providing material support for the rebels in South Kordofan. He added the defendants also fabricated videos of incidents of claimed genocide, killing of civilians and burning of villages besides claims of persecution of Christians in Sudan.

"The prosecutor pointed they seized documents and videos contained in the laptop, mobile phone and flash memory, saying the defendants sought to distort the image of the government by disseminating information that could be used to put international pressure on the country."

While two of the men approved their statements as presented by the prosecutor, one of the men denied his statement - it is unclear which of the men this was.

Open Doors contacts are awaiting further information - there is no word yet on their next court appearance.

Please pray:

  • For a fair judicial process, and that the men will be acquitted of all charges
  • That God will continue to strengthen and comfort Hassan, Kuwa and Abdulmonem during this ordeal
  • Thank the Lord for sustaining the faith of the pastors. Pray that officials will be convicted by their testimonies and seek salvation in Christ
  • That other church leaders will know the Lord's peace in the face of the increasing pressure against churches.

Source: Sudan Tribune


UPDATE - Imprisoned pastors' hearing delayed

16 August 2016

After eight months of legal limbo, Sudan has finally accused two pastors of at least seven crimes, some punishable by death if proven.

Hassan Abduraheem Taour and Kuwa Shamal, both pastors of the beleaguered Sudan Church of Christ, 'are accused of complicity to execute a criminal agreement and waging war against the state', according to Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW).

The pastors were moved to Al-Huda Prison (Sudan's Khartoum State) on 11 August. Originally it was believed the pastors had appeared in court on 14 August, but on the day of the hearing it was suddenly postponed until 21 August.

The two Christian ministers also face charges of espionage, calling for opposition of the public authority by violence or criminal force, and inciting hatred between classes.

Rev. Taour had been detained without charge since 18 December, in contravention of Khartoum's own law. Meanwhile, Rev. Shamal was detained on the same date, released, and then re-arrested again without charge on 24May

Among the host of other crimes the Christians are accused of are 'propagation of false news articles, and entry and photography of military areas and equipment'.

The maximum sentence for waging war against the state (Article 51 of Sudan's law) and espionage (Article 53) is the death penalty.

If you would like to speak out on behalf of Hassan Abduraheem Taour and Kuwa Shamal, please email advocacy@opendoorsuk.org and we will provide you with more information.

Source: CSW, World Watch Monitor

Please pray:

  • For a fair judicial process, and that the Christians will be acquitted of all charges
  • That God will continue to strengthen and comfort the pastors during this ordeal
  • Thank the Lord for sustaining Taour and Shamal's faith. Pray that officials will be convicted by the pastors' testimonies and seek salvation in Christ
  • That other church leaders will know the Lord's peace in the face of the increasing pressure against churches.


Imprisoned pastors' hearing on Sunday

9 August 2016

Open Doors contacts have asked for urgent prayer for three imprisoned men who, after nearly eight months of legal limbo, have finally been seen by a Sudanese court.

Hassan Abduraheem Taour and Kuwa Shamal, both Sudan Church of Christ pastors, and Darfuri student Abdulmonem Abdumawla Issa Abdumawla appeared at the Bahri Criminal Court for a pro-forma hearing on 4 August, said Middle East Concern (MEC).

The date for the next hearing is Sunday, 14 August. While charges against the church leaders remain officially 'unknown', earlier the National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS) indicated they will be prosecuted for 'crimes against the state'.

Poor conditions

Both Taour and Shamal had earlier asked authorities to either send their case to court or release them.

According to Sudanese law, 45 days from arrest a detainee should either appear before court or be released, a rule ignored in at least three of the recent Christian cases, those of Taour, Shamal and Telahoon (Telal) Nogosi Rata (he was released after nearly six months on 10 May, but may yet face charges).

Before Taour and Shamal's recent move to the nearby Omdurman prison, the pastors had expressed concern about their safety in police holding cells normally used to detain criminal suspects for up to ten days.

A lawyer involved in the case told Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) that they were held in a small room where sometimes up to 25 men were also detained. "Their diet was poor and their health has suffered," the lawyer added.

CSW reported that Kuwa had contracted malaria, and despite requests to the prosecutor for medical attention, he only received treatment after his church paid for it. Doctors also found he was suffering from a blood infection caused by poor diet.

Ongoing ordeal

The ordeal for the men started mid-December. On 17 December, authorities detained Abdumawla. The next day, Taour and Shamal were detained. Rev. Shamal was released after three days but re-arrested on 24 May.

Even before Shamal's re-arrest, sources reported that Rev. Taour would face several serious charges relating to 'undermining national security', charges Sudan has previously used after prolonged detentions of Christians.

Taour, Shamal and Abdumawla were detained and investigated by the NISS, but their case was only handed to the General Prosecutor's office in May.

The bigger picture of persecution

Christians in Sudan experience extreme persecution, where it ranks as number eight on Open Doors' World Watch List.

The Islamic regime's recent crackdown

Following the secession of the majority-Christian South Sudan in 2011, President Bashir made it clear that Sudan is an Islamic state governed by Sharia. Since then pressures have been ratcheted up against Christians.

Christian leaders face increased restrictions - Ayub Tilyab, Yagoub Naway, Philemon Hassan, and Yamani Abraha of Khartoum El Izba Baptist Church have all been alternately arrested, released, and then made subject to daily NISS reporting.

Confiscations and demolitions of churches have also increased. On 1 August, authorities notified three churches of demolition within 72 hours. The churches, including the Baptist Church and the Sudan Church of Christ in the Hajj Yousef area of Khartoum 'are resisting the scheduled demolition through the courts', reported MEC.

The Nuba people

Both Taour and Shamal are from the Nuba people group, native to a border region with the now independent South Sudan and among groups resisting ethnic and religious rule from Khartoum's Arab Islamic regime. Open Doors CEO, Lisa Pearce, recently visited the much-suffering Nuba people where she saw first-hand how they are being attacked by the Sudanese government.

On 25 May 2016, the government of Sudan bombed St Vincent Ferrer Primary School in the Nuba Mountains, in what was described as an example of 'grave violation of human rights'.

Believers in Sudan need our prayers. Please join us in praying for persecuted Christians, particularly for Taour and Shamal's court hearing on 14 August, using the prayer points below.

Source: Open Doors; MEC; CSW

Please pray:

  • Thank the Lord for sustaining Taour and Shamal's faith. Pray that officials will be convicted by the pastors' testimonies and seek salvation in Christ
  • That God will continue to strengthen and comfort the pastors during this ordeal
  • For a fair judicial process, and that the men will be acquitted of all charges
  • That other church leaders will know the Lord's peace in the face of the increasing pressure against churches, that the scheduled church demolitions will be prevented, and for the safety of the Nuba people.

More News from Sudan:

Find out more about persecution in Sudan.