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Amnesty wants clarity from Sudan on two detained church leaders

February 10 - 2015 KHARTOUM
South Sudanese sing at the First Presbyterian Church of Albert Lea (Albert Lea Tribune)
South Sudanese sing at the First Presbyterian Church of Albert Lea (Albert Lea Tribune)

Amnesty International is urging the Sudanese authorities to disclose the whereabouts of two church leaders who were detained by the National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS) in Khartoum in December and January. 

Both Rev. Yat Michael and Rev. Peter Yen, of the South Sudanese Presbyterian Evangelical Church, are being held incommunicado, without access to their families or lawyers, and may be at risk of torture or ill-treatment, Amnesty International UK reported in a press release today.

South Sudanese Pastor Yat Michael was visiting Khartoum when he was taken into custody on Sunday 21 December. He had been preaching that morning at the Khartoum North Church of the Sudan Presbyterian Evangelical Church.

After the service, several men who identified themselves as NISS officers took Rev. Michael away without giving further explanation. The next day, the security forces went to where he was staying, and took some of his clothes and personal belongings. They informed his wife that he was being held in relation to an ongoing investigation but did not reveal any further details.

Rev. Peter Yen, another South Sudanese pastor who was visiting Khartoum, was detained on 11 January when he responded to summons to report to an office of the security service. It appears that his detention is linked to a letter, he delivered to the Religious Affairs Office in Khartoum inquiring about Rev. Michael’s detention.

Pastor Michael’s family has been trying unsuccessfully to find out where he is held. The family of Rev. Yen has also not seen or spoken to him, since he was detained. 

“The longer these two men are held in a secret location, the greater the risk of them being tortured,” Amnesty International UK Director Kate Allen said. 

“To date, absolutely no charge has been brought against these two church leaders.  The authorities in Sudan must make reveal the location of these two men as soon as possible, and either charge them with a recognisable criminal offence or release them immediately.” 

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