18 August 2017

Sudan: Police Remove Evangelical Church Leaders From House

Omdurman — Two miniters of the Anglican Evangelical Church in Omdurman were removed from their house under the pretext of an investor owning the land property rights.

Last Tuesday police of El Awsat Department in Omdurman ordered Reverend Yahya Abdelrahman, the head of the Anglican Evangelical Church and his deputy, Reverend Siddig Abdallah to evacuate their house by force.

Abdelrahman told Radio Dabanga that a force of court police, accompanied by an investor, forced him and his deputy Reverend Siddig Abdallah to evacuate the house of the Evangelical Church at Elmulazmin in Omdurman. The decision apparently was issued by the Omdurman Central Court, according to the church leader.

"The court judge insisted on the implementation of the decision, despite the fact that the house number was not identical to the house referred to in the decision.

"Church members held guard in front of the house to keep it from being demolished." - Reverend Yahya Abdelrahman

"My family and Abdallah's family have been living without a roof over our heads for three days," Abdelrahman said in yesterday's interview.

He condemned the move and said it was unacceptable and a violation of the rights of the Christians in Sudan. "I filed an appeal against the eviction order at the Supreme Court."

Dozens of Evangelical community members held a sit-in in front of the house to denounce the decision, for almost three days. "They have been guarding the house day and night out of fear for it being demolished."

Abdelrahman also pointed to the solidarity of local and foreign organisations against the decision.

Anglican province

The Archbishop of Canterbury declared Sudan a new province of the Anglican Church on 30 July. Abubakar Osman, the Sudanese Minister of Guidance and Endowments, said the inauguration of the Anglican Church "coincides with a special moment in the history of our Sudanese nation. The National Dialogue has led to the formation of a government that considers political and religious freedoms as its fundamental principles".

Yet last week, the Sudanese Ministry of Education reportedly issued an order to church schools in the country to observe the weekend on Friday and Saturday, and operate schools on Sunday. The churches complain that Sunday has been the free day for church schools since their founding in the country.

Church land rights

On 3 April, the courtyard of the Evangelical Church and School in Omdurman witnessed the killing of a church elder against the backdrop of a conflict between the Sudanese Ministry of Guidance, an investor and the church over land. When the investor tried to seize the school by force, Christian youth staged a sit-in in the church building for two weeks. During a police raid on 3 April 13 of the protesters were detained on charges of trespassing. Members of the committee that signed the contract to the site and police returned to the site. A quarrel led to the killing of Yunan Abdallah and seriously wounded another church elder.

A Sudan Democracy First Group (SDFG) report about discrimination against Sudanese Christians refers to a similar incident that occurred in July last year, when security forces stormed the Evangelical School in Khartoum-North with five heavily armed vehicles. They detained 19 Evangelical priests, elders, and students, who were holding a peaceful sit-in to protest the selling of the church land to an investor.

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