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Press Release — August 29, 2001

Saudis Strike Another Blow to Religious Freedom:

Last Leader on Christian “Most-Wanted” List Arrested by Saudi Officials

Today at 11am local time Filipino Christian Dennis Moreno was met at his place of employment in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia by 4 men from the Ministry of Interior (MOI). After questioning him for half an hour, they then took him to his home. There, as Dennis’ wife, Yolly, was nursing their 2-month-old daughter, the MOI ransacked the entire house. All they found were a couple of personal Bibles, musical instruments, and some song sheets. Dennis was also asked to provide any photos he had. Though he complied with the officials’ request, they did not seem to be satisfied. He was then handcuffed as a criminal and taken to the Ruais prison in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.

Dennis was the last person on a list of 6 Christian leaders that was given to the MOI by Prabhu Isaac, another Christian who was arrested on July 19th. Prabhu had revealed the six names after undergoing psychological torture. Prabhu stated to his wife in a phone call that, “he almost lost his mind” during a 10-day period of solitary confinement. The result of this inhumane treatment was a break-down in which he revealed the six names.

International Christian Concern is calling for the immediate release of the following Christians.

Detained in Sharafia Prison, Jeddah:

  • Prabhu Isaac (Indian) – arrested July 19, 2001
  • Eskinder Menghis (Eritrean) – arrested July 25, 2001

Detained in Ruais Prison, Jeddah

  • Dennis Moreno (Filipino) – arrested August 29, 2001

Whereabouts unknown:

  • Tinsaie Gizachew (Eritrean or Ethiopian), and three other members of his Church as well – arrested August 19, 2001
  • Ibrahim Mohammed a.k.a. Gabayu (Ethiopian) -arrested August 19, 2001
  • Keborom (Eritrean) – arrested August 19, 2001
  • Makbeab (Ethiopian) – arrested August 19, 2001
  • Afobunor Okey Buliamin a.k.a. Benjamin (Nigerian) – arrested August 19, 2001
  • Baharu Mengistu (Ethiopian) – arrested August 20, 2001
  • Beferdu Fikri (Ethiopian) – arrested August 21, 2001

The conditions of these Christians are unknown. The wives and children of the detained, including many who have infants, are alone. A United Churches of Saudi Arabia (UCOSA) representative spoke with Dennis Moreno’s wife Yolly shortly after his arrest, and she is pleading for US intervention.

ICC believes the best way to bring pressure to bear on the Saudi Arabian government is to increase media attention to the recent string of arrests. Saudi Arabia is very sensitive about its image given its important trade relationship with the US and its desire to enter the World Trade Organization (WTO).

Unfortunately, thus far little media attention has been given to the arrest of Christians in Jeddah. The ICC President said: “It is typical of the US media to give a large amount of coverage to human rights abuses in a terrorist nation like Afghanistan while ignoring the abuses of one of our most important trade partners.” ICC called on the US media to give equal coverage to human rights abuses wherever they may occur.

To protest the arrest of Christians in Saudi Arabia, please contact the following:

Prince Bandor bin Sultan
Embassy of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
601 New Hampshire Ave., NW
Washington, DC 20037
Tel: 202-342-3800
Fax: 202-944-5983

Secretary of State Colin Powell
Department of State
2201 C St., NW, Suite 7276
Washington, DC 20520
Tel: 202-647-6575
Fax: 202-261-8577

Dennis Moreno

Prabhu Isaac Family

Benjamin Family