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16 July 2015

The fight for freedom and unity in Sudan

The fight for freedom and unity in Sudan

We may not hear about it all that much at the moment, but the country of Sudan is facing tumultuous times.

Sudan probably comes to mind when you think of the recent high profile case of Miriam Ibrahim, a Sudanese woman who was charged with apostasy and sentenced to death for her Christian beliefs. Thankfully, due to an international outcry and much campaigning, she was then released.

The country has a troubled history. A 2009 US department of State Human Rights report states: "For much of Sudan's history, the nation has suffered from rampant ethnic strife and has been plagued by internal conflicts including two civil wars and the War in the Darfur region. Sudan suffers from poor human rights most particularly dealing with the issues of ethnic cleansing and slavery in the nation."

The UN says: "The humanitarian situation in the country is "appalling", with over 1.6 million displaced people and over 600,000 refugees in the neighbouring countries, and close to 4.6 million facing severe food insecurity. Parties must respect international humanitarian law and enable unfettered access to those in need of assistance, stressed the Secretary-General."

However there are also serious cases of persecution coming to light. Sudan is still high on the Open Doors list of persecuted countries- at number six. In light of this, two Christian pastors, Revs Yat Michael and Peter Yen, have been charged with several (highly questionable) offences, including undermining the constitutional system, waging war against the state, and espionage.

Evangelical Alliance member Open Doors says: "Islam is deeply embedded in Sudan's culture. Islamic law is the foundation of the nation's justice system, and apostasy (converting to a different religion) is punishable by death. Such blasphemy laws are frequently used to prosecute Christians, particularly Muslim-background believers, and a significant number of Christians have been imprisoned."

The BBC said: "The continuing trial of two pastors in Khartoum raises the historically loaded and still deeply relevant question of Sudan's treatment of minorities."

Furthermore, Amnesty International has just released news of 10 Christian women who were arrested outside a church and charged with indecent dress.

"At the time of the arrest, the women –who are Christian students aged between 17 and 23 from the war-torn Nuba Mountains in South Kordofan –were wearing either trousers or skirts. The Public Order Police stopped 12 women in front of the Evangelical Baptist Church where they had attended a ceremony on 25 June. Two of the women were later released by police. The remaining 10 were charged and will be appearing in court next week. If they are convicted, the women could each face 40 lashes.

The Guardian has investigated this case further and talked to the spokesperson of the Sudan People's Liberation Movement, who said: "They want to rule Sudan with a very narrow-minded view, imposing one religion, one culture and one language."

In the Guardian's report, they describe the poor treatment of the girls from the time of their arrest and whilst in custody. They start their article by corroborating the persecution going on in Sudan and call it "a case that human rights groups say is further damning evidence of the government's intolerance to its Christian population".

Our Christian brothers and sisters are facing real hardship and it is important that we stand with them in prayer.

Please pray:

·For unity in Sudan between Muslims and Christians

·For the government to stop their persecution of Christians and for justice to reign

·For both cases, that the charges/impending sentences will be dropped.

You can also petition the government of Sudan over the arrests of the ten women –more details can be found here.

 

    Photo credit: CC Margie Nea