Officials in Sudan are keeping five Christian leaders under surveillance, and have detained two others, without filing any charges against them.
Telahoon Nogosi Kassa Rata, who leads the Khartoum North Evangelical church, and Rev. Hassan Abduraheem Kodi Taour, head of the Sudan Church of Christ (SCC), have been detained beyond the legal limit of 45 days, according to Christian Today. Rata, who was initially brought in on “religious charges” but is allegedly being investigated for espionage, was arrested Dec. 14 and Taour Dec. 19.
Five other pastors, who were arrested and released by Sudanese officers, must report each day to Sudan's National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS) as part of the terms of their release. Kamal Fahmi, who heads the advocacy website Set My People Free, told WWM that this type of surveillance was a violation of their human rights.
"The government of Sudan continues to intimidate and harass Christians and tries to make it difficult for them to practice their faith, and stop their ministries in their communities,” Fahmi said.
Sudan is a majority Muslim country, and as a result, many Christians there are facing oppression from the government as it intensifies its conflict with neighboring South Sudan, which seceded in 2011 after a bloody civil war. Fahmi said that this has led to “the indiscriminate harassment and arrests of church leaders and active church members.”
"Foreign Christian workers have been deported,” Fahmi told WWM. “Sudan has stopped the import of Christian literature and scriptures, while confiscating most of the Christian literature in the country and closing the only Christian bookshop in the capital Khartoum. Torture and arrest of converts from Islam is also commonplace.”
The current detentions and surveillance measures are part of a larger history of control by the Sudanese government, which released two South Sudanese pastors accused of “spying” in August 2015 after holding one for eight and the other for seven months. Khartoum has also been accused of stopping activity at the Presbyterian Church Bible School in Gerief West, a suburb of the city.
However, Khartoum has also eased restrictions on refugee churches in the city, which previously were required to register with the government and were not allowed to spread their faith, according to WWM.