Date: January 31, 2016
JUBA, South Sudan, January 31, 2016 (Morning Star News) – Sudanese authorities have released one of two pastors detained in December, sources said.
The Rev. Kwa Shamaal, head of missions for the Sudanese Church of Christ (SCOC), was arrested on Dec. 18 and released on Dec. 21 but had been required to report daily to the office of the National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS), where he was held from 8 a.m. until midnight, sources said. That requirement was removed on Jan. 16.
His colleague, the Rev. Hassan Abdelrahim Tawor, SCOC vice-moderator, remains in detention without charges.
NISS officials were said to have been upset with the pastors for telling others that Christians faced persecution in Sudan. Authorities had arrested the two pastors from their respective homes at the same hour. No charges have been brought against them, although NISS officials were said to have objected to their their Christian activities.
Since their arrest last year, Christians in Sudan and elsewhere have been praying fervently for the two pastors and for other Christians jailed in Sudan.
“Please do your best in prayer, and leave the rest to almighty God,” one leader said to his prayer group.
“We really miss you very much, my dad,” Abdelrahim’s son wrote in a Facebook post.
Both church leaders are from the Nuba Mountain region of South Kordofan state. Ethnic Nuba, along with Christians, face discrimination in Sudan, where President Omar al-Bashir has vowed to adopt a stricter version of sharia (Islamic law) and recognize only Islamic culture and the Arabic language.
Shamaal’s church building was demolished in the Hai Thiba Al Hamyida area of Khartoum North on June 29-30, 2014. Last year, after bulldozing a Lutheran Church of Sudan (LCS) building on Oct. 21, authorities in the Karari area of Omdurman demolished an SCOC building on Oct. 27 without prior warning, church leaders said. Local authorities said the SCOC building was on government land, a claim church leaders adamantly denied.
The Nuba people have longstanding complaints against Khartoum – including neglect, oppression and forced conversions to Islam in a 1990s jihad – but as Sudanese citizens on the northern side of the border, they were never given the option of secession in the 2005 peace pact between northern and southern Sudan.
The rebels in the Nuba Mountains were formerly involved with the southern Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) forces fighting Khartoum before the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA).
Fighting between Sudan and South Sudan broke out in June 2011, when Khartoum forcefully attempted to disarm the SPLA-N in South Kordofan by force rather than awaiting a process of disarmament as called for in the CPA. When the CPA was signed in 2005, the people of South Kordofan were to vote on whether to join the north or the south, but the state governor suspended the process.
Due to its treatment of Christians and other human rights violations, Sudan has been designated a Country of Particular Concern by the U.S. State Department since 1999, and the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom recommended the country remain on the list in its 2015 report.
Sudan ranked eighth on Christian support organization Open Doors’ 2016 World Watch List of countries where Christians face most persecution.
Photo: The Rev. Kwa Shamaal. (Morning Star News)