A group of Darfuri Christians arrested last week have now been released but only after they faced severe pressure for their faith and were beaten while in detention, a local source has told World Watch Monitor.
The group of 13 Christians were taken by security officials from a home they shared in the city of Nyala, southwest Darfur, on 13 October. It is not clear on what charges they were arrested, though three of them were released shortly after and the rest released by Sunday, 21 October.
It is also unclear if any of them will face further prosecution, according to World Watch Monitor’s source.
A report, published in December, said Sudan was guilty of “discreet and systematic acts of persecution” against Christians and other minority groups.
Several church leaders have been arrested, fined and taken to court on a variety of charges. In the case of two major church denominations – the Sudan Presbyterian Evangelical Church and Sudanese Church of Christ – charges have often related to an ongoing property dispute between the churches and a government-appointed committee.
Mariam Ibrahim, the Sudanese woman who received the death sentence for apostasy but was freed in 2014, told World Watch Monitor in June last year that her problems were symptomatic of those faced by the Christian community in Sudan.
“We know there’s many places [where] churches have to change; they’re building another building, they’re reselling the church land, the schools, the Christian schools.
“Just after one year from my release, another two pastors, Peter Yen and Yat Michael, were arrested … They’re arresting Christian girls, Christian women, for making local wine, selling it … [or] if you’re not covering your head,” she said.
The EU’s Special Envoy for Freedom of Religion or Belief, Ján Figeľ, has repeatedly spoken out on behalf of Christians in Sudan. After a visit to Khartoum in March last year he told World Watch Monitor he had “reminded the authorities about the importance of upholding freedom of religion or belief as in the constitution and recommended the construction of a civil state based on equal citizenship for all”.