Amnesty International is urging the authorities in Sudan to disclose the whereabouts of two church leaders who were arrested by the country’s National Intelligence and Security Service in Khartoum last December and January.
Both Reverend Yat Michael and Reverend Peter Yen – of the South Sudan Presbyterian Evangelical Church – are being detained incommunicado, in an unknown location without access to their families or lawyers and are at risk of torture or ill-treatment.
Pastor Yat Michael
Reverend Yat Michael, a pastor from South Sudan, 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 Sudanese government security officers demanded that Reverend Yat come with them. They took him away without giving further explanation. The next day, the security forces went to Reverend Yat’s home 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 about the investigation, whether the reverend was under arrest and what the charges were.
Pastor Peter Yen
Reverend Peter Yen, another South Sudanese pastor who was visiting Khartoum, was arrested on 11 January when he responded to summons to report to an office of the security services. It appears that his arrest and detention is linked to a letter he delivered to the Religious Affairs Office in Khartoum inquiring about Reverend Yat’s arrest. Pastor Yat’s wife and his family have been trying unsuccessfully to find out where he is being held. They have not had any access to him since his arrest. The family of Reverend Yen has also not seen or spoken to him since he was taken into custody.
Amnesty International UK Director Kate Allen said: “The longer these two men are held in a secret location, the greater the risk of them being tortured. To date, absolutely no charge has been brought against these two church leaders. The authorities in Sudan must reveal the location of these two men as soon as possible, and either charge them with a recognisable criminal offence or release them immediately.”