JUBA, South Sudan, May 10, 2016
Sudan has released one of two church leaders jailed since December, sources said.
Telahoon Nogose Kassa, head of discipleship at the embattled Khartoum Bahri Evangelical Church, was released after Sudan’s National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS) arrested him without charges on Dec. 13, 2015, according to church members.
‘Finally, Telahoon is released, thanks for your prayers and hope the rest will be released,’ Kassa’s brother wrote on his Facebook page.
It was unclear why Kassa was released, but NISS can hold detainees for up to four and a half months without judicial review, according to Human Rights Watch. Sudan was also subject to a United Nation’s Universal Periodic Review on human rights abuses last week.
Historically holding wide-ranging powers to arrest people without cause, NISS was further empowered in January 2015 by amendments to Sudan’s constitution, which designated it a regular security force with a broader mandate to combat ‘political and social threats.’ Said to be staffed by hard-line Islamists, NISS is known for its torture and other abusive tactics.
NISS agents went to the home of the 36-year-old Kassa the night of Dec 13, 2015 and told him to report to their offices. When he went to a NISS office the following day, officials arrested him and took him to a detention center in Khartoum.
NISS officials gave no reasons for the arrest, though they questioned him for five consecutive days about his relationship with a foreign missionary who had attended a discipleship class, sources said. They believe he was targeted for his Christian activities and his opposition to government interference with his church.
Rev Hassan Abdulraheem Kodi Taour of the Sudan Church of Christ, who was arrested shortly after Mr Ratta, remains in detention. Authorities arrested him at his home on Dec. 18, 2015. No charges have been brought against him either.
Many SCOC and other church members are from the Nuba Mountains in South Kordofan, where the government is fighting an insurgency. Ethnic Nuba, along with Christians, face discrimination in Sudan, where President Omar al-Bashir has vowed to adopt a stricter version of sharia (Islamic law) and recognise only Islamic culture and the Arabic language.
Source: Morning Star News
- For a review of the NISS’s powers of arrest
- For the criminal proceedings against Rev. Abdulraheem and others to be dropped
- For the Ministry of Religious Endowments to end its interference in the church’s affairs.”