Sudan (MNN) — The phrase “no good deed goes unpunished” plays out in a unique way on the mission field. Sometimes helping somebody means risking your own life.
This is true for Petr Jašek, a Czech humanitarian aid worker and missionary. About a year ago, he visited Sudan to help Christians in need. Just before he left the country, Jašek was arrested along with three other men: Rev. Hassan Abdelrahim Kodi, Rev. Kuwa Shemaal, and Mr. Abdelmoneim Abdelmoula.
Voice of the Martyrs has been covering the story. In a newsletter earlier this year they said: VOM knows Mr. Jasek to be a kindhearted man who has assisted VOM in delivering aid to displaced and suffering Christians in Sudan, Nigeria and other African nations. Mr. Jasek’s background in hospital administration uniquely qualifies him to serve suffering people, and especially to benefit suffering communities through provision of medical care in austere locations. Mr. Jasek’s work has always been humanitarian in nature, and not in any way political.
Trials have been ongoing since August. Yesterday the 11th trial took place. We spoke with Todd Nettleton of VOM to get an update.
He says, “The trial involves this Czech aid worker, two Sudanese pastors, and a fourth man — another Sudanese man. They are charged with basically everything but the kitchen sink. They are charged with espionage, undermining the government, and reporting false information about the government of Sudan. All kinds of things that, if they were found guilty of everything, they could actually face the death penalty.”
Nettleton says it appears they are done with the prosecution phase and are on to the defense part of the trial. While it’s hard to know if the trials are being done fairly, VOM reports that imprisonment of the men has been unlawful. Read the backstory here.
“Obviously the charges are very serious and the potential penalty is very serious and we don’t know for sure how the court will rule,” Nettleton says.
However, as we’ve seen in recent cases (see “Trouble Strikes again for South Sudanese Pastors”, Meriam Ibrahim) there is hope. International outcry has proven a powerful tool in cases like this.
Nettleton says the best-case scenario is that, like in these cases, the defendants will be found guilty but let go.
The defendants are accused of spreading information that makes the Sudanese government look bad. Nettleton explains the irony, saying the president, Omar al-Bashir has been accused of war crimes by the International Criminal Court.
Even so, the government cares what people think, even when it comes to their treatment of minorities.
“They think if you talk about Christian persecution, if you talk about minority peoples being harassed and injured and persecuted by the government, that makes the government look bad. There is certainly an element of Christian persecution.”
Nettleton explains Christians are seen “as somewhat of a threat and certainly second-class citizens.”
There is a petition for the release of these four men, and more information, at citizengo.org. It will only take a moment to sign the petition, but the result could save a life.
“Because we have seen Meriam Ibrahim released, because we saw the two South Sudanese pastors released, I think there is very clear evidence that international pressure does produce results,” Nettleton says.
“The Sudanese government is sensitive to sort of how they’re perceived in the world, and so when they get thousands of letters and signatures saying, ‘Hey, you shouldn’t be putting these people on trial,” that really does make a difference. We’ve seen it in the past, and I hope that we’ll see it in this case, too.”
Please pray for the trial process as the end is coming. Ask God to uphold justice. Pray for the judge to rule fairly. Pray for the defense lawyers to present a clear case. And, Nettleton suggests, pray for these imprisoned men to continue to be a witness to the Gospel during this time.