A court case involving two Christian pastors arrested for “spying” and “waging war against the stage” of South Sudan is little more than a show of force by the Islamist regime, as it tries to send a warning to those outside the Muslim faith that dissent and criticism will not be tolerated, said a writer from Morning Star News who’s watching the case closely.
The pastors, along with a Czech medical aide worker, face the death penalty.
From the news outlet:
“Christian workers imprisoned under charges related to tarnishing Sudan’s image are innocent, but their arrests serve the Sudanese government as a warning to others against criticizing the Islamist regime, sources said.
“Foreign diplomats and international rights activists have taken notice of the case since Morning Star News in December 2015 broke the story of the arrest of two pastors that month. As part of a recent upsurge in harassment of Christians, Sudan accuses the Sudanese pastors and a foreign aid worker of “waging war against the state” and “spying” in the course of allegedly gathering information on persecution of Christians and on bombing civilians in the Nuba Mountains.
“Prosecutors in Sudan this week presented flimsy evidence against the two pastors and the Czech medical-aid worker charged with crimes calling for the death penalty, a defense attorney told Morning Star News.”
As part of their evidence, prosecutors presented the court a video from Sudan’s National Intelligence and Security Services that showed the Czech aide, Petr Jasek, talking with civilians from the Nuba Mountains region – the same spot where rebel forces are engaged in fierce fighting with the government.
But as Jasek’s defense attorney said: the video has nothing to do with the case.
“For certain,” he said, Morning Star News reported, “thisshows a NISS policy to intimidate others into refraining from criticizing the government.”
The news outlet goes on:
“Jasek and two Sudan Church of Christ pastors, the Rev. Kwa Shamaal and the Rev. Hassan Abdelrahim Tawor, are charged with trying to tarnish the image of Sudan’s government by collecting information on persecution of Christians and on genocide in the Nuba Mountains. The charges include collecting information for ‘other parties hostile to Sudan.’
“They are accused of conducting intelligence activities and providing material support for Nuba rebels in South Kordofan under two charges that carry the death penalty – waging war against the state (Article 51 of the Sudanese Criminal Code) and spying (Article 53).”
Christians in the United States are being asked to pray and intervene.
From Morning Star News, once again:
“The Voice of the Martyrs released a statement this week saying Jasek’s family has asked the aid organization to bring his case to the attention of U.S. Christians for prayer and advocacy.
“‘These men are not spies,’ Voice of the Martyrs spokesman Todd Nettleton said in the statement. ‘They were not inciting a revolt. They aren’t pushing a political agenda. These four are simply trying to serve and help. Only tyrants consider helping people a crime, and the four men should be released immediately.’
“Also charged is Abdulmonem Abdumawla of Darfur, who was arrested in December after he began collecting money to help a friend, Ali Omer, who had needed treatment for burns suffered in a student demonstration. Abdumawla contacted Abdelrahim Tawor, who donated money for Omer’s treatment, which apparently raised the ire of Sudanese authorities, according to Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW).
“Omer had been injured during a demonstration at Quran Karim University in Omdurman last year that left him with severe burns that required regular medical care, according to CSW. A senior member of the student wing of the ruling National Congress Party (NCP) died when 150 NCP students attacked Darfuri students at a meeting at Sharg El Nil College in Khartoum in April 2015, CSW reported.
“Since then, Darfuri students have been increasingly targeted by the NISS, which has violently suppressed peaceful student demonstrations against government repression, CSW reported. NISS is said to be staffed by hard-line Islamists with broad powers to arrest people the government deems undesirable.”
Sudan comes in eighth on the Open Doors’ 2016 World Watch List of countries where Christians are under the most intense persecution.