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International Christian Concern

2020 Pennsylvania Ave. NW #941 Washington DC 20006-1846

www.www.persecution.org / Email: icc@www.persecution.org

Contact: Jeff King

Phone: (301) 989-1708

Email: icc@www.persecution.org

CPC SAUDI ARABIA DETAINS CHRISTIANS IN CRACKDOWN:

One Christian Severely Beaten and Arrested in Front of His 5 Year-Old Son

For Immediate Release
You are free to disseminate the following news. We request that you reference International Christian Concern, and include our web address www.www.persecution.org.

(ICC – May 31, 2005) – The Washington , D.C. based human rights organization International Christian Concern (ICC) has reported that on Saturday, May 28. 2005 at 8:30 p.m. Chittirical John Thomas (Passport # A9757690), an Indian national, was pulled from work in Riyadh by Saudi Muttawa authorities, dragged to his home, and beaten in front of his maid and 5 year-old son. The Muttawa gathered his Bible and all religious paraphernalia, and took 37 year-old Thomas to the Shemaissy Detention Center . Thomas’s wife, who is 5 months pregnant, has not heard from her husband since. In addition to John Thomas, 7 other Indian nationals were arrested in similar fashion and detained for their faith as Christians while they were asleep on Saturday night.

Valiakalail Samuel Daniel (Passport # Z1101522), Koil Pillai Vijaykumar (Passport # E3188388), Mutham Plackal Mathai Thomas (Passport # A2584732), Pathivadathil James George (Passport # U321808), George Matthew, Biju Thomas, and Saji Varghese are the confirmed names of the others arrested. ICC is still awaiting confirmation on the identity numbers of the last three victims. ICC also knows that Koil Pillai Vijaykumar was visited in the middle of the night and interrogated until 3 a.m., along with his wife. At least one of the prisoners has been abused while imprisoned, forced to continuously stand and was beaten with his hands bound behind his back. It is widely believed that these arrests are the result of Samkutty Varghese’s detention outside of his bible study on January 24, 2005. Varghese (Passport # E8421022) possessed the names and numbers of other Christians attending the same Assembly of God fellowship group.

This crackdown on Christians comes in the wake of talks with the United States Department of State regarding Saudi Arabia ’s status as a Country of Particular Concern (CPC). Saudi authorities have not clearly committed to furthering religious freedom; however the U.S. State Department has extended the deadline for sanctions for over 2 months, and not held the government accountable. In addition, from 2000 until 2004 U.S. investments in Saudi Arabia , especially in the oil production market, have steadily increased, totaling $8 billion. ICC feels that Saudi Arabia should face the full force of sanctions from the United States ; otherwise their status as a CPC may become a meaningless title.

The United States and the broader international community need to hold Saudi Arabia accountable for egregious violations of religious freedom. This latest crackdown on Christians is inexcusable and highlights the oppressive regime under which foreign nationals live and work in Saudi Arabia . For additional information or for an interview, contact ICC at 800-422-5441.

ICC is a Washington , D.C. based human rights organization that exists to help persecuted Christians worldwide. ICC delivers humanitarian aid, trains and supports persecuted pastors, raises awareness in the US regarding the problem of persecution, and is an advocate for the persecuted on Capitol Hill and the State Department.

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