Church Demolitions in Sudan Spark Strong Congressional Response
In New Letter, 12 Members of Congress Request that Secretary of State Tillerson Urge Sudan to Cease its Destruction of Churches
07/11/2017 Washington D.C. (International Christian Concern) – International Christian Concern (ICC) has learned that a new bipartisan letter from the US House of Representatives was sent today to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, requesting that he raise the issue of Christian churches being targeted in Sudan with the Sudanese government. The letter follows extensive efforts by ICC to raise awareness about the destruction of churches in Sudan on Capitol Hill and was sent to Secretary Tillerson just 24 hours ahead of a possible State Department decision to continue the lifting of sanctions against the country. The letter also follows a June 30 letter from 53 members of Congress urging the Secretary to delay the permanent lifting of sanctions.
Signed by 12 congressmen of both parties, the letter urges the State Department to “contact the Sudanese government about their continued demolition and threatened destruction of Christian churches and their human rights violations.” The letter continues, “The Sudanese government should rescind its unfounded demolition orders for Christian places of worship and recognize their right to exist in peace. The United States has long been a champion of religious freedom around the world, and we should hold Sudan accountable for its unacceptable targeting of Christian churches and religious minorities.”
On September 29, 2016, 27 churches in the Khartoum area of Sudan received notices that their buildings were set to be demolished. Several of the churches have been demolished already with the remaining number subject to destruction soon if their legal appeals are rejected. Sudan has a long history of abusing the human rights of its citizens and practicing religious persecution. In 2012, 2014, and 2015, authorities in Sudan demolished or closed down churches without providing justification. Additionally, in April of this year, a Christian leader and father of two was stabbed to death in a Sudanese Christian school as he tried to protect school personnel who were being attacked by a mob trying to seize the property.
Isaac Six, ICC’s Advocacy Director, stated, “Sudan has demonstrated an almost complete lack of respect for the human rights of many of its citizens. This recent assault on the right of Christians to gather together in houses of worship shows that President Omar al-Bashir has not changed his practice of blatant discrimination and abuse of his own people. With the looming deadline on the expiration of US sanctions against Sudan, Bashir must demonstrate that he will protect basic human rights in his nation. If he fails to meet these minimal demands of human decency, then the US must not reward him with economic relief. The Sudanese government should immediately rescind its demolition orders for these places of worship and recognize their right to exist.”