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5/27/2016 Washington, DC (International Christian Concern) – International Christian Concern (ICC) has learned that Sudanese intelligence officials have arrested another Christian church leader, handing him over to the prosecutor’s office to await possible criminal charges that may carry the death penalty.

Middle East Concern told ICC that authorities detained Rev. Kuwa Shamal of the Sudanese Church of Christ (SCOC) on May 24 after forcing him to report to the National Intelligence Security Service (NISS) for interrogation.

Officials first arrested Shamal and fellow SCOC pastor Rev. Hassan Abduraheem Taour on December 18, 2015 and subsequently released Shamal on December 21. Authorities then ordered Shamal to report daily to the NISS office for interrogation from early in the morning until late at night. This requirement persisted until January 16, 2016, and then restarted from mid-February until his recent arrest.

Rev. Taour remains in Sudanese custody, also awaiting charges that could carry the death penalty. His attorney told ICC that he and Shamal likely face charges including espionage, undermining the constitutional system, and inciting religious hatred.

“Kuwa [will face] the same charges as [Abduraheem] and he had to record judicial confession yesterday,” an attorney close to the case told ICC. “I am afraid more pastors will [face] arrest,” he added.

The attorney called the case “fake” and told ICC that, “NISS [just] want[s] to fill the gaps by adding more defendants.”

Middle East Concern also tells ICC that officials continue to hold a Christian convert from Islam named Abdulmonen Abdumwala Issa Abdumwala whom they arrested on December 17, 2015.

Sudan Continues Targeting Pastors

The recent arrests stand in a larger campaign to detain Christians in Sudan dating back to December 2014, but ramping up in December 2015.

Authorities also arrested SCOC discipleship leader Telahoon “Telal” Nogossi Kassa Rata in December 2015 and held him in solitary confinement without charge, blocking his access to legal counsel and all but two family visits, until releasing him on May 10.

These trumped-up actions are nothing new for NISS, notorious for its hardline Islamist perspective. The intensified persecution that Christians have been facing in Sudan for the past year is unlawful given the country’s constitution and international treaties, both of which carry protections for religious freedom.

Sudan is a signatory to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which protects religious freedom as well as the right to a fair trial.

Pressuring Sudan

In the past, Sudan has responded positively when international actors have pressured them to release Christians who have been wrongly accused.

In August 2015, a judge released Pastors Peter Yein Reith and Yat Michael who faced death penalty for charges similar to the ones that Taour and Shamal are likely to face.

Sudan also released Meriam Ibrahim in June 2014, a Christian woman who faced the death penalty after being convicted of apostasy and adultery for marrying a Christian man and practicing her faith.

“ICC grieves with the news that Sudan continues to persecute the Christian Church in the country with these incessant arrests that amount to human rights violations. Sudan exists under such a hypocritical and contradictory legal framework that they show themselves to be the pariah of the international community. ICC calls for the immediate release of pastors Taour and Shamal and demands that Sudan cease and desist their unfounded and arbitrary arrests of Christian converts and pastors. We call on everyone concerned to continue to pray and join us in demanding justice for Kuwa and Hassan. Please voice your protest with the Sudanese Embassy in Washington and Ambassador Maowia Osman Khalid. The embassy can be reached at +1 202.338.8565,” ICC’s Regional Manager for Africa, Troy Augustine, said.