Christians in prison, beaten in Saudi Arabia

Washington, D.C. (March 21, 2011)–International Christian Concern (ICC) has learned that two Indian Christians working in Saudi Arabia have been arrested in Batha, Riyadh, and sentenced to 45 days in prison.

On March 11, 2010, at 8:30 PM local time, Vasantha Sekhar and Nese Yohan were arrested and beaten. They were accused of proselytizing. ICC contacts in Saudi Arabia believe they were arrested to keep them from practicing Christianity privately in their home.

While in prison awaiting trial their apartment was ransacked. They face uncertainty regarding their future. An employer has returned the passport of one of the Christians, making it clear that his job is no longer available, and he will be expelled. The other Christian awaits information regarding his legal status and job.

Saudi Arabia has a long history of quietly cracking down on Christians. In 2004, 28 Indian workers were arrested in Messriam for practicing Christianity. The charges were dropped, but in 2010 they were brought up again. 1 was deported, and one has been arrested. In another case 16 Indian workers were arrested in February 2008, and then released after 3 days. In 2010, 8 left the country of their own accord and 3 of the remaining 8 were issued deportation orders and expelled.

“These two Christians have faced false charges and false evidence. The Saudi government continues to engage in an array of severe violations of human rights as part of its repression of freedom of religion.” said Logan Maurer, ICC Advocacy Director.

Please contact Saudi Arabia officials and politely ask them to release and not expel vulnerable religious communities of Saudi Arabia.

Saudi Arabia Embassies: United States: (202) 342-3800 UK: (+44-20)79173000 Canada: (+1-613) 2374100