While millions in Sudan have struggled to live through extreme poverty, famine and political instability, those who follow Jesus Christ in a nation governed by Sharia Law and Islamist leaders have long faced a much harsher existence. For three decades, the Sudanese government has targeted Christians, along with those who aren’t ethnically Arab, for extermination.
Since former President Omar Hassan al-Bashir rose to power in 1989 through a military coup and established a strict form of Islamic law throughout Sudan, his brutal regime intimidated, arrested, imprisoned and tortured Christians. It also demolished and bombed church buildings, seeking to further Islamize the country.
In 1993, the United States listed Sudan as a state sponsor of terrorism for harboring members of Islamic terrorist groups, including Osama bin Laden. In 2005, the country’s long-running civil war came to a halt with a peace agreement that resulted in southern Sudan becoming an independent country in 2011. To quell civilian uprisings, Bashir enlisted Arab militias to terrorize civilians in the western Darfur region. As a result, roughly 300,000 people were killed and four million more were displaced.
Before the country split, Bashir orchestrated the deaths of nearly two million Christians in southern Sudan, including the Blue Nile region and the Nuba Mountains. In the Nuba region, the Sudanese military dropped more than 4,000 bombs on Christian villages, churches, schools and hospitals to erase all traces of Christianity. Believers there have been treated as criminals and often arrested, tortured, falsely charged and punished with the death penalty.
In March 2009, The Hague-based International Criminal Court issued an arrest warrant for sixty-five-year-old Bashir—the first warrant ever for a sitting head of state. He was charged with committing war crimes and crimes against humanity, including mass extermination, deportation, torture and rape in western Sudan. The following year, a second warrant was issued, this time for masterminding genocide in the province of Darfur.
Despite the warrants, Bashir continued to lead Sudan and terrorize Christians until April 11, 2019, when the Sudanese military ousted the dictator following several months of protests.
This story takes place inside Bashir’s Sudan a few years before the despot lost his grip on the nation.
About the author
Raised as the son of a pastor who was persecuted in communist Czechoslovakia, Petr Jašek was well equipped to join The Voice of the Martyrs (VOM) in 2002 to help aid and assist persecuted Christians in hostile areas and restricted nations. Today, Petr serves with VOM as the ministry’s Global Ambassador, traveling around the world to speak about his imprisonment in Sudan and encouraging believers to stand with our persecuted brothers and sisters in prayer and action.