Christians convicted in Sudan: UK 'deeply concerned'
The Government of the United Kingdom has said it is “deeply concerned” about the recent lengthy convictions of Christians in Sudan for alleged espionage crimes against the state.
Tobias Ellwood MP, a Foreign Office Minister in the UK, announced the government's position after he was questioned in the House Commons by a member of a Christian political party.
Last week Czech aid worker Petr Jašek was sentenced to life imprisonment (which amounts to 24 years in Sudan) and has to pay a fine of $15,440. His co-accused, Rev. Hassan Abdelrahim Kodi was sentenced to 12 years imprisonment, together with a student activist from Darfur.
The men were involved in helping to fundraise for a Darfuri student who was severely injured in a demonstration. The donation has been the center of the court case with the Sudanese intelligence service claiming that it was meant to support rebel movements in South Kordofan, Blue Nile, and Darfur – the home areas of the three convicts.
Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) in January said it was “profoundly dismayed” by the verdicts when they were announced last month, and believes the Sudanese government has cracked down on the men because of their Christian faith and involvement in a protest.
'We will continue to raise our concerns directly with the Government of Sudan in our human rights dialogue.'
When asked whether the British government would help free the men, Tobias Ellwood replied: “We are deeply concerned by the verdict in the case against Pastor Hassan Abdelrahim Kodi, Petr Jašek, and Abdelmunim Abdelmoula, however we are aware that the defendants have the right to appeal.
“We have regularly raised our concerns over this case, as well as the wider issue of freedom of religion and belief, directly with the Government of Sudan, most recently on 17 January; and will continue to do so as part of our ongoing human rights dialogue.”
The freedom of religion has witnessed a significant clampdown and discrimination against Christians grew since 1989, when the current regime of President Omar Al Bashir was established, Sudan Democracy First Group (SDFG) said in 2016.
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