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Press Release — September 5, 2001

Boy Pleads for Help for Father Detained in Saudi Arabia

Four More Arrested: Total of 14 Detained for Practicing Their Faith

The Government of Saudi Arabia is continuing their sweep of Christians by raiding the private homes, confiscating personal articles, and imprisoning men for undetermined reasons. International Christian Concern, the Washington DC based human rights organization, was notified by the United Churches of Saudi Arabia (UCOSA) that four more men have been taken – two of which reside with their families in Jeddah.

“It has become clearly evident,” says a representative of UCOSA, “that the Saudis are deliberately carrying out a campaign of arrests of the Christian leadership, which is being literally swept away.” Left behind are at least 7 families who no longer have any means of financial support – as their husbands and fathers are imprisoned. There are at least two newborn children in these families who are in desperate need of the support of their father, as the women are not allowed to drive a car in Saudi Arabia in order to purchase their daily necessities of life. Others in the community desire to help, but they are afraid that their houses are being watched and phones “bugged”.

At least three Christians whose names are on the “most wanted” list of the Ministry of Interior (MOI) are now hiding, moving from house to house in order to allude the MOI. One man who is on the run, Ahmed, telephoned UCOSA yesterday stating, “I have no idea what to do, and am very much afraid. I am running for my life, and I don’t know why they are after me. But I know that they [the MOI] have already imprisoned many of my brothers.”

A recent email from the son of one of the detained Christians reads: “I am a 12 years old boy, together with my 9 years old sister and a 2 month old baby sister, is appealing and begging for your help and support for my father, Dennis Moreno-Lacalle, who had been interrogated last August 29 at 11:15 a.m. by the 3 Government Policemen (Ministry of Interior of Saudi Arabia). He was asked to lead them in going to our house wherein my mama and my 2 month old baby sister was in the bedroom. Our house was ransacked and one Bible and some musical instruments was confiscated. Please, I’m begging for your help!! We went already to the prison, but these people in the prison keep on passing him on and hiding him. Please, have mercy for us here, because until the time of my papa was taken, me haven’t siin and talked to him, even visited him… Please, please help.” Jedidiah John, Saudi Arabia

With a request for help from UCOSA to International Christian Concern, Braidich says, “The wives of the detained are pleading for help for their husbands. Their only hope is with the US government. Only the US as power and any clout with the Saudi government. The Saudis have notoriously turned a blind eye to any other government’s requests in such cases.

Over the past six weeks the following individuals have been taken by the Saudi MOI. Their nationalities are noted and those with family members are followed with a [F].

Taken on July 19th (held in Sharafia prison, Jeddah, SA)

1) Prabhu Isaac [Indian] [F]

Taken on July 25th (held in Sharafia prison, Jeddah, SA)

2) Eskinder Menghis [Eritrea] [F]

The whereabouts of all those listed below are still unknown – as well as their condition.

Taken on the evening of Aug. 19, 2001:

3) Tensaye Gezachew [Ethiopian]

4) Ibrahim Mohammed (Gebeyew) [Ethiopian]

5) Kebrom Haile [Eritrean] [F]

6) Afobunor Okey Buliamin (Benjamin) [Nigerian] [F]

Taken on Aug. 20, 2001

7) Baharu Mengistu [Ethiopian] [F]

Taken on Aug. 21, 2001

8) Beferdu Fikre [Ethiopian] [F]

Taken Aug 29, 2001:

9) Dennis Moreno [Philippines] [Held in Ruais prison in Jeddah, SA] [F]

10) Joseph Girmaye [Eritrian] [F]

Taken on Sept 1st:

11) Worku [Ethiopian]

12) Tishome [Ethiopian]

Taken on Sept 4th

13) Araya Gesesew [Ethiopian]

Taken on an unknown date:

14) Tishome Kebret [Ethiopian] [F]

International Christian Concern and UCOSA are extremely concerned for these men’s safety. Recently deported Wilfredo Caliwag [Filipino] testified about having been tortured almost to the point of death.

International Christian Concern is cooperating with UCOSA in pleading with the US Government on behalf of those who are missing their family members, asking for help in gaining their immediate release from prison, reinstatement with their employers, and for talks to begin between UCOSA the Saudi government to discuss ways that Christians can practice their faith with Saudi Arabia without fear of harassment, arrest, deportation, and maltreatment.