Crackdown on Christians in Saudi Arabia Worsens
after Six  More Arrests

For immediate release
August 23 2001

ANOTHER six Christians have been arrested in Jiddah, Saudi Arabia as part of
a new crackdown.

Tinsaie Gizachew, an Eritrean, and Afobunor Okey Buliamin, a Nigerian, were
arrested on August 19. A day later, Baharu Mengistu, an Ethiopian, was also

On August 19, three other Eritrean Christians were arrested, known only by
their first names of Gabayu, Kebrom and Mesfin. There are reports of more
arrests, but these have not been confirmed.

There is particular concern for Mr Buliamin, a Christian whose passport says
he is a Muslim. This means he could face the charge of apostasy from Islam,
the penalty for which is death under Sharia law.

The Saudi authorities appear to have launched a crackdown on ex-pat
believers in a bid to track down Saudis who have links with Christians
according to these reports from human rights agency Middle East Concern.

Reports from the coastal city of Jiddah suggest the authorities believe that
Saudi nationals were present at the farewell party for Prabhu Isaac, an
Indian who was arrested at the end of July.

Mr Isaac was arrested on July 18 after a visit from the muttawa, Saudi's
religious police, who confiscated bibles, songbooks and a personal computer
which contained lists of other Christians in the city.

He is being held at Sharafiah Prison near Jiddah and is being denied access
to consular officials and relatives. His wife Socilia, who was also
questioned on July 18, has been told to have no outside contact.

Another Eritrean believer, Eskinder Menghis, was arrested after his name was
found on Mr Isaac's computer. He is being held at Ruais prison in Jiddah on
charges of bringing people into his home for religious practices.

Wilfredo Caliuag, a Filipino Christian, was arrested on July 5 on charges of
the illegal use of an alias.

During his detention, Wilfredo was accused of being a religious teacher and
was interrogated to give information about other Christians in the city.

On July 31, Wilfredo was admitted to the Intensive Care Unit of the Red Sea
King Abdul Aziz Hospital where he was on a life support machine. Clinical
records said he had suffered from severe heat stroke, but bruises suggested
he had also been ill-treated at the hands of the authorities.

Wilfredo was deported on August 9.

CSW's advocacy director Tina Lambert said: "There have now been at least
nine Christians arrested and ill-treated in Saudi Arabia in the last few
weeks. It is time the international community sat up and took notice of this
fundamental abuse of human rights. These people have been arrested and
jailed and in some cases tortured for their religious beliefs."

CSW is calling for the immediate and unconditional release of all eight men
and are urging the Government of Saudi Arabia to protect the freedom of
non-Sunni Muslims to worship in private.

For more information, contact Richard Chilvers on 020 8949 0587 or email

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