Press Release December 16, 2002
UPDATE: As of December 18, 2002, ICC has received word that Rev. Alconga was released from prison on December 17. His current status is unknown as there still appear to be charges against him.
Filipino Pastor Imprisoned in United Arab Emirates
On November 12, 2002, Rev. Fernando Alconga, a Filipino pastor of the Redeemer and King Filipino Church of Ras Al Khaimah, United Arab Emirates, was arrested by the Criminal Investigation Division (CID) of Dubai for distributing Christian materials. Rev. Alconga was asleep in his car at the Al Bustan Center in Al Qusais, Dubai when he was approached by two men requesting Christian materials in Arabic. The previous day Rev. Alconga had given a package of information called "The God Story" to an Egyptian Arab outside of the same building. After being informed that he had no materials in Arabic, the men requested that Rev. Alconga show them his supply of materials in other languages, which he did. At that point the men identified themselves as CID agents and arrested Rev. Alconga for distributing Christian materials, which included cassette tapes, tracts, and New Testaments.
Rev. Alconga was initially interrogated at the CID General Headquarters beside the Dubai police station. He was later moved to the Al Quasis Prison where he is currently being detained without bail. Members of the Council of Evangelical Churches (CEC), the group sponsoring Rev. Alconga, were told that he might be released on November 18 but were later informed that there would be a hearing of the case on December 1. When a representative of the CEC inquired about the trial on November 30, he was told that it had been postponed until further investigation could be carried out. However, the CEC learned on the morning of December 1 that the trial was indeed going to take place, but at a different location than originally planned. Thus, neither Rev. Alconga's legal counsel nor a representative from the Filipino Embassy were able to attend the hearing. Rev. Alconga was also refused a translator and was forced to sign documents in Arabic which he could not understand.
International Christian Concern and the Council of Evangelical Churches request the immediate release of Rev. Alconga considering the nature of the arrest that took place and the charges against him. Concerned parties may write to the Embassy of United Arab Emirates in the United States or directly to the President of the UAE at the addresses provided below. A sample letter is provided.
|Ambassador Asri Said Ahmad al-Dhahiri|
Embassy of the United Arab Emirates
3522 International Ct. NW
Washington, DC 20008
Telephone: (202) 243-240
Fax: (202) 243-2432
Salutation: Your Excellency
|His Highness Al-Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al-Nahyan|
President of the United Arab Emirates
Ruler of Abu Dhabi
PO Box 280, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
Salutation: Your Highness
International Christian Concern, a Washington, DC based human rights organization, advocates and aids Christians undergoing persecution worldwide. More information is available at www.www.persecution.org or by calling the ICC office at (301) 989-1708.