January 2017 brought the shocking news that Christian missionary and humanitarian aid worker, Petr Jasek, 52, had been sentenced to life in prison in Sudan. Now, after spending 446 days incarcerated, Jasek was “pardoned” and set free by the Sudanese government on February 26.
Jasek, from the Czech Republic, got in trouble for raising money for a young Darfuri that had been severely burned during a student protest. His crime was described as spying against Sudan. According to the Sudan Tribune: “On 29 January, a Sudanese court sentenced Jasek to life imprisonment for spying against the Sudan and disseminating reports – via an “American organisation hostile to Sudan” – including alleged persecution of Christians in the country, and the bombardment of civilian populated areas in the Nuba Mountains of South Kordofan State.”
The Sudan Tribune reported that Jasek was released into the care of Czech Foreign Minister Lubomir Zaoralek who came to Khartoum for talks on bilateral relations. Zaoralek and Sudan’s Foreign Minister Ibrahim Ghandour held a joint press conference on Sunday, the 26th. Ghandour said President al-Bashir released Jasek “in appreciation for the historic relations between Sudan and the Czech republic,” according to the paper.
“Al-Bashir has taken into account the bilateral ties between the two nations, and the Czech Foreign Minister would receive the Czech citizen and he will leave for his country today,” said Ghandour.
Apparently the Sudanese regime did not have enough appreciation for historic relations between Sudan and Czech republic not to treat Jasek with shocking brutality. The World Watch Monitor reported Jasek’s account of enduring both psychological and physical torture during his 14 months in prison.
Some of that abuse came at the hands of ISIS, Jasek revealed. World Watch Monitor quoted Jasek, “The first two months were probably the most severe for me because I was placed in a cell together with members of the Islamic State, who humiliated me as a Christian.” He said that the humiliation escalated into beatings and both psychological and physical torture. And Voice of the Martyrs adds that Jasek revealed, “I was deprived of sleep for days in a cell with no running water, where mice ran over my body every time I lay down.”
But this Czech Christian experienced the faithfulness of God through it all. Voice of the Martyrs says that Jasek was inspired “by years of serving Christians imprisoned for their faith” and therefore “felt honored to be able to serve God while himself the prisoner of a brutal Islamic regime.” He “embraced his imprisonment as an opportunity to share the gospel with Sudanese, Eritreans and radical Muslims who are normally inaccessible to missionaries.” Jasek saw several of his fellow prisoners come to faith in Christ.
Jasek testified to Voice of the Martyrs:
I found that I was peaceful and joyful in prison, and that is a miracle that only God can do. I can say that I was experiencing an amazing time with the Lord. My prayer was that I wanted to have the right words to speak at any time so that everything I said would be for the glory of God and touching the hearts of the other prisoners.”
Now this brave brother in Christ is safely home in the Czech Republic. But even as he was taken from the Prague airport to a hospital to recover from his ordeal, Jasek implored the media and the world community that his two colleagues that remain in prison in Sudan not be forgotten. Reverend Hassan Abdelrahim Tawor, a Nuba pastor in the Sudanese Church of Christ (SCOC) and Abdulmonem Abdumawla, a Darfuri convert, were convicted for “assisting Jasek in the alleged espionage, causing hatred among communities and spreading false information.” They both received a 12 year sentence.
So while we rejoice in the release from unjust imprisonment of Petr Jasek, we must protest the unjust imprisonment of Hassan and Abdulmonem. It will be more of a battle to see these two men be freed. Khartoum will not believe that Christians in the West are as concerned about Africans as they are about Europeans. The devoted prayer and actions of a caring Body of Christ on the other side of the world would be a powerful witness to the Islamists in Sudan. We must continue to pray for Hassan and Abdulmonem, and to be their advocates, just as I am sure that Petr Jasek will be.