Sudan: South Sudanese Church Leaders Jailed

Thursday, May 14, 2015

By Joseph DeCaro, Worthy News Correspondent

(Worthy News)-- Sudanese authorities have arrested two South Sudanese pastors who are now facing the death penalty.

According to Morning Star News, Sudan's National Intelligence and Security Services have charged Reverends Yat Michael and Peter Yein Reith with undermining the country's constitutional system and waging war against the state; both charges carry a death sentence.

However, the charges appear to be based solely on the pastors' nationality, race and faith, which are not well respected in a nation that President Omar al-Bashir has pledged will eventually become fully Arabic and Islamic.

Violating international human rights agreements, the whereabouts of the detained pastors were unknown for months until they were transferred from Khartoum's police station to a clandestine NISS detention facility and then finally to Omdurman Prison.

Both pastors have begun a hunger strike to protest their incarcerations.

According to Amnesty International, holding the pastors incommunicado violated the Interim Constitution of Sudan, the African Charter on Human and People's Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, all of which are binding on Sudan.

In general, arrests of Christians in Sudan have increased since the secession of South Sudan in July 2011 when Bashir vowed to adopt a stricter version of sharia.

Since 2012, Sudan has expelled foreign Christians and bulldozed churches on the pretext that the buildings belonged to South Sudanese. NISS agents have threatened South Sudanese Christians who do not leave Sudan, or who fail to cooperate with NISS in its efforts to ferret out other South Sudanese Christians.

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 recently recommended that Sudan retain that designation.

Sudan ranked sixth on Open Doors' 2015 World Watch List of countries where Christians face the most persecution.