JUBA, South Sudan (Morning Star News) – Sudan this week banned five attorneys from leaving the country after another lawyer accused them of tainting the country’s image by defending Meriam Ibrahim, the Christian mother of two falsely accused of apostasy, two of the attorneys said.
The move came in response to attorney Iman Hassan submitting a letter of complaint to a Sudan court accusing the defense lawyers of wresting the case from her, Ibrahim’s lawyers said. Hassan is also requesting that the court revoke the licenses of the five lawyers, who are not Christian but support the rights of Christians and other minorities in the country.
“The five attorneys have tarnished the image of Sudan by allowing human right organizations to put pressure on the government,” Hassan wrote in her complaint.
The court in Ibrahim’s case rejected Hassan’s attempt to defend the Christian mother at Ibrahim’s request, the defense attorneys said.
Ibrahim was sentenced to death after refusing to renounce Christ, but the sentence was revoked on June 23, less than two months after Morning Star News broke the story that set off a firestorm of international protests, and she was permitted to leave the country on July 24.
The defense attorneys said judicial authorities appear to be biased against them. One said he was surprised that the government sought to retaliate for a case that was already closed.
“Who can challenge the government?” he told Morning Star News.
“We have been told to give explanation to the accusations filed against us without being given enough time,” said another defense attorney. “We have no intention to leave the country, but it seems time has come for ‘payback’ for our work on Meriam’s case.”
Nuba Christians Arrested, Attacked
Ibrahim, of Ethiopian/Sudanese descent, and her husband, from South Sudan, lived as dark-skinned Christians among Arabic Muslims in Sudan, where some officials regard both black people and Christians as second-class citizens.
Black, ethnic Nuba Christians face the same disdain, both in the Nuba Mountains where the government is fighting a rebel force and in Khartoum. In Omdurman, across the River Nile from Khartoum, police in June raped a Christian Nuba woman after arresting her and several others at a wedding reception, sources said.
Police arrested 40 Nuba Christians after a wedding ceremony at the Sudan Presbyterian Evangelical Church in Omdurman, according to the African Centre for Justice and Peace Studies, a Sudanese rights group based in Kampala, Uganda.
A church leader who spoke with Morning Star News confirmed the incident. Those attending the wedding proceeded to White Nile Beach in the Hai Al-Mulazmeen area for a reception, where police made the arrests. They released without charge 34 of the 40 people arrested on June 22 but detained four men and two women overnight, gang-raping one of the women on June 23, the group and church leader said.
All six of those held overnight were charged with disturbing the peace – the wedding had included worship songs sung in Arabic – before being released on bail on June 23. Among the 40 detained, several reported being beaten, verbally abused with racist language and threatened with sexual violence while in detention. Those detained included at least 14 teenage Christians.
In the Nuba Mountains, Sudan destroyed another church building on July 16 in South Kordofan state, Christian sources told Morning Star News.
The Sudanese Air Force bombed the building of the Sudanese Church of Christ in the Sabat Administrative area of Dalami County, seriously damaging it, local Christian said.
“We are saddened by the destruction of the Sudanese Church of Christ in Sabat,” he said.
The damaged church building was destroyed by Sudan Armed Forces in 1989 fighting but had since been renovated.
“The Sudan government is targeting civilians and Christian institutions in the Nuba Mountains,” another area source said.
Since South Sudan split from Sudan in a 2011 referendum, Nuba people in Sudan’s South Kordofan state believe the government’s goal of quashing rebels is also meant to rid the area of non-Arabs and Christianity. Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir has said post-secession Sudan will adhere more exclusively to Islam and Arabic culture.
Thousands of civilians have taken refuge in Nuba Mountain caves in South Kordofan, which borders South Sudan. The Nuba people have longstanding complaints against Khartoum – including neglect, oppression and forced conversions to Islam in a 1990s jihad – but as Sudanese citizens on the northern side of the border, they were never given the option of secession in the 2005 peace pact between northern and southern Sudan.
A Sudanese Air Force bomber had destroyed the building of the Episcopal Church of Sudan (ECS) in the area of Al Atmor on July 6.
Nuba Reports, based in South Kordofan, has verified 1,929 bombs dropped by the Sudanese Armed Forces on civilian areas since April 2012, including 756 since September 2013. The bombs have killed and maimed hundreds of civilians, it reports.
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