Sudanese authorities warn church leaders against speaking about Christian persecution

(Wikimedia Commons/Shmyg)St. Matthew's Cathedral, Khartoum

Sudanese church leaders were warned against talking about the persecution of Christians shortly after they held a press conference in Khartoum to urge the government to reconsider its decision to demolish church buildings.

Following the press conference on Feb. 11, Rev. Mubarak Hamad, the Chairman of Sudan Council of Churches, was summoned by National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS) and was ordered to report to the office daily from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m.

The security agents lifted the requirements on Feb. 26, but Hamad was told not to speak publicly about the persecution of Christians and the demolition of churches without NISS authorization, Radio Tamazuj reported.

"They told me not to talk about the demolition of churches or the two church leaders who are in jail," said Hamad.

He said that church leaders have been targeted in the crackdown against Christians, adding that two church leaders were sentenced to 12 years' imprisonment for charges of espionage.

Another Christian leader was ordered to report to the NISS office for interrogations over the issue of church demolitions.

Milad Musa, a member of the Sudanese Church of Christ, has been told to appear at the office from 6 a.m. in the morning to 12 a.m. for criticizing the demolitions plan. "Sometimes there is food but many times there is no food in the custody," said Musa.

At least 25 churches have been scheduled for demolition because they were supposedly built on illegal lands. However, church officials contended that they legally obtained the lands and have the title deeds.

A Sudanese court recently sentenced Church of Christ pastor Hassan Abduelraheem Kodi and student Abdulmonem Abdumawla to 12 years in prison for espionage. Another pastor, Rev. Kuwa Shamal Abazmam Kurri, was released in January after the judge found no evidence against him.

The authorities also released Czech aid worker Petr Jasek, who was sentenced to 24 years' imprisonment in connection with the case of the three men. Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir reportedly ordered his release to maintain good relations between Sudan and the Czech Republic.

Jasek, who spent 14 months in a Sudanese jail, said that he was beaten and tortured while he was imprisoned. He urged Christians to pray for those who are still incarcerated.

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