Persecution Continues In Sudan As Pastor Forced To Leave Over 'Evangelistic Activities'

Sudan was this month ranked fifth on persecution charity Open Doors' annual list of countries where it is most difficult to be a Christian.Reuters

A Christian pastor was last month deported from Sudan over his "evangelistic and church activities," he says.

Pastor Koat Akot, from South Sudan and a leader in the Sudan Pentecostal Church, told Morning Star News that on December 6 he was told he must leave the country within 72 hours.

Akot has helped set up three new churches in the Khartoum/Omdurman area, with a total membership of more than 700.

He was also previously arrested on November 18 by Sudan's National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS) and had been told to report to their offices every day for three weeks.

He was accused of working for foreign NGOs, a charge he denies. He left Sudan on November 9.

Sudan was this month ranked fifth on persecution charity Open Doors' annual list of countries where it is most difficult to be a Christian, and the country has in the past year experienced a dramatic rise in religious persecution.

Since 1999, the US State Department has designated Sudan as a "country of particular concern" for ongoing religious freedom violations, including the treatment of Christians.

A major case ongoing in the country is that of four men who have been detained since 2015 over allegations that they were spying.

The accusations include waging war against the state, inciting hatred between classes, propagating false news, espionage and complicity in criminal agreements. The defendants are specifically accused in the court indictment of "fabricating videos or incidents of claimed genocide, killing of civilians and burnings of villages, besides claims of persecutions of Christians in Sudan".

One of the men, a church leader called Kuwa Shamal, was released after a hearing earlier this month but the three others – a fellow pastor, an aid worker and a graduate – continue to face the death penalty or life imprisonment.