SUDAN: PASTOR RELEASED AFTER 17 MONTHS
After 510 days in prison, Rev. Hassan Abduraheem and Mr. Abdulmonem Abdumawla were released on May 11, 2017, on a presidential pardon. The two were arrested in December 2015 along with VOM field worker Petr Jasek and Rev. Kuwa Shamal. Rev. Shamal was acquitted of all charges and released on Jan. 2, 2017, and Jasek was released on Feb. 26, 2017, also on a presidential pardon.
“My joy is now complete as my brothers are now free as well,” Jasek said following their release. Jasek, a Czech national, was sentenced to life in prison on Jan. 29 after a nine-month trial on charges including espionage, inciting strife between communities and illegally entering Sudan. Rev. Abduraheem and Abdumawla each received 12-year sentences for their roles in helping Jasek provide assistance to an injured student.
After Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir pardoned Jasek on Feb. 26, he was escorted back to his home country by a Czech Republic foreign minister.
Sudanese Christians faithfully supported the four men throughout their trial, appearing in the courtroom when allowed and standing in solidarity outside the courtroom when they weren’t. Jasek later talked about how encouraging it was to see them there and to hear the Christians singing hymns and praying.
Prisoners in Sudanese prison
Petr Jasek, Hassan Abduraheem, Kuwa Shamal and Abdulmonem Abdumawla in prison
Jasek spoke to Rev. Abduraheem at about midnight Sudan time following his release on May 11. “He told me that both he and Abdulmonem are in good health and were excited and so happy to be free,” Jasek said. “He also expressed thanks to all of those whom the Lord had used to push their case.”
Rev. Abduraheem told Jasek that he had no regrets about his time in prison because he could see the Lord’s purpose for him there. He was able to preach the gospel and encourage Christians in various prisons throughout Sudan, and his imprisonment also served to encourage and embolden the Sudanese church overall.
The pastor told Jasek that he has already forgiven those who interrogated and imprisoned him and that he feels no anger or bitterness. “I pray that the Lord Jesus would reveal himself to them as Lord, Savior and God,” he told Jasek.
The release of the two men is a bright spot in what has been a difficult year for Sudanese Christians. Earlier this month, the government began implementing its plans to demolish 27 churches they claim are built on land intended for other uses.
Government officials have also tried to confiscate property owned by the Sudan Presbyterian Evangelical Church in Omdurman. Several church members have been detained, and on April 3 an elder was stabbed to death in related violence. These recent events near Khartoum take place against the backdrop of a years-long bombing campaign against Christian communities, schools and hospitals in the southern Nuba Mountains.