A Christian pastor, Kuwa Shamal, who was facing a death sentence was released January 02, after he was found innocent of all charges brought against him. The charges, which were brought against him by Islamic security forces, ranged from espionage to inciting hatred against the Sudanese government.
Shamaal, the head of missions for the Sudanese Church of Christ, was arrested at his home without charges Dec. 18. 2015. Pastor Shamal was imprisoned by Sudan’s National Intelligence and Security Service. Three others still face charges, including Hassan Abdelrahim Tawor, a colleague of Shamal, who was arrested the same day.
Others have been imprisoned by the Sudanese government. Czech aid worker Petr Jasek and Abdulmonem Abdumawla of Darfu face similar charges of espionage, waging war against the state, and gathering false news information, as well as provoking hatred between classes.
Both Shamal and Tawor were accused of trying to damage Sudan’s reputation by collecting information on the persecution of Christians and genocide in the Nuba Mountain region, where the government is currently fighting an insurgency. Many members of the Sudanese Church of Christ are from the Nuba region. The pastors were accused of gathering intelligence and supporting insurgents against the Sudanese government.
Abdumawla was arrested after he began collecting money to aid a friend, who needed treatment for burns incurred at a student demonstration. Abdumawla obtained funds for the treatment of his friend, thereby causing both himself and Shamal to be arrested on the aforementioned charges, according to Christian Solidarity Worldwide.
Tawor and Abdumawla face a death sentence or imprisonment for life if they are convicted of the serious charges against them. The two will likely have a hearing today, when a legal defense may be able to be made for them.
Jasek, the Czech aid worker, was charged with “tarnishing Sudan’s image” by documenting the persecution of Christians. Mr. Jasek has also helped the Christian organization Voice of the Martyrs distribute aid in Sudan and in Nigeria.
Foreign diplomats and international human rights activists have given great attention to the arrest of Pastor Kuwa Shamaal and his colleagues. The case has been seen as part of a greater increase in the persecution of Christians by the Sudanese government. As a result of its persecution of Christians and violations of human rights, Sudan is listed as a Country of Particular Concern by the U. S. State Department since 1999.
This past year, Sudan ranked eighth on Open Doors World Watch List of countries in which Christians are most severely persecuted across the world.
The release of Pastor Kuwa Shamal is a victory, but the remaining prisoners are still in crisis, and face an uncertain future. They are in need of support, prayers, and advocacy.