Christian Human Rights Foundation Decries Move to Demolish Church Properties in Sudan

The site of the attempted demolition in Omdurman. Credit: CSW

Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW), a UK-based human rights foundation, has condemned the approval by a Sudanese court to demolish properties belonging to a church in Omdurman, Sudan’s second city, noting that the move thwarts efforts to promote religious freedom in the country.

In a Wednesday, May 25 report, CSW indicates that the lucrative 2000 square metre block of properties is owned by the Sudan Presbyterian Evangelical Church and has been rented out to Clergy and Christians who have also been battling eviction instructions from the Sudanese authorities.

In the report, the CEO of CSW, Scot Bower, is quoted as saying that the human rights agency is alarmed by the demolition directive from the Sudanese court, and calls on authorities in the country to reverse it.

“We are alarmed by the attempt to demolish significant properties belonging to the Sudan Presbyterian Evangelical Church without notice. We urge the Sudanese authorities to review this decision, mindful of the fact that such a demolition will empower those with no legitimate standing to act on behalf of the church,” Mr. Bower says.

He adds, “We call on the international community to remind the military leadership of its de facto responsibility in Sudan to protect human rights, including freedom of religion or belief, and to uphold the principle of non-discrimination.”


The May 25 CSW report indicates that the 2000 square metre block of properties adjacent to the evangelical church comprise three homes that are rented to private tenants, three medical clinics, two laboratories, a pharmacy and a shop.

The charity foundation finds it regrettable that the tenants as well as the owners of the property were not alerted by the demolition which, according to the entity, is at an advanced stage.

“The tenants, owners and the legitimate administrative committee of SPEC did not receive legal notification of the decision and only became aware of the plans when police officers arrived at the properties on 25 May,” CSW report indicates.

The entity that is served by teams of specialists that regularly visit the over 20 countries it is working on to gather first-hand evidence of violations of the right to freedom of religion or belief says that among the significant police presence, which arrived at the premises on May 25 were four trucks and members of the armed police units who displayed their weapons.

Some of the tenants were able to submit an appeal, CSW reports, adding that the court has stayed the demolition order until June 7.

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The human rights entity reports that prior to the current order, three homes, including that of a 75-year-old man, and several businesses were destroyed.

A church leader who asked not to be named told CSW that the demolition directive signifies discrimination against the Christian population in Sudan.

“If this demolition is allowed it will be a disaster for the families and businesses who, without notice, could lose everything,” the church leader is quoted as saying, and adds, “For the church it is yet another blow in the struggle to control and administrate their land, and forms part of the exhausting discrimination that the Christian community is subjected to by the authorities.”

The church leader says that the people of God have not given up in fighting for their property, and adds, “We had no notice of this decision, and have had to gather lawyers and attend the court to try and prevent this unlawful action in the knowledge that some may be arrested for standing up for their rights and we will once again be forced to defend ourselves through the criminal courts.”

According to CSW, the church properties “are of significant financial value.”


“A number of the homes are rented to members of church and clergy, who previously faced legal challenges to evict them during the al Bashir regime,” the human rights and charity entity reports, and adds, “It is suspected that individuals who sit on an illegitimate government-constituted committee are working together with government officials and investors to seize the land.”

In Sudan, church committees recognized by the Ministry of Guidance and Endowments, which oversees religious affairs, are legally empowered to control affairs of churches.

CSW reports that during the al Bashir era, the government abused this provision “in order to retain significant control over the internal processes of churches, and to further restrict the rights of Christians.”

According to the UK-based human rights foundation, interference in church affairs was commonplace and was primarily undertaken by National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS) officers, who pitted Christians against each other. 

“The government would subsequently claim that disputes such as those concerning different committees were an internal church matter that did not involve the state,” CSW reports.

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The foundation further reports that during the transitional period in Sudan, some important steps were taken to improve the protection of freedom of religion or belief (FoRB).

CSW notes that while slow to address the issues of church interference, Sudan’s Ministry of Guidance and Endowments reached an agreement with the legitimate administrative committee of the Sudan Presbyterian Evangelical Church for administrative control over the church’s affairs, adding, “However, in November 2021 a judge dismissed this agreement.”

The dismissal, CSW reports, came shortly after the military coup of 25 October 2021, and the steady rise in influence of the National Congress Party (NCP), the party of former president Omar al Bashir.

Agnes Aineah is a Kenyan journalist with a background in digital and newspaper reporting. She holds a Master of Arts in Digital Journalism from the Aga Khan University, Graduate School of Media and Communications and a Bachelor's Degree in Linguistics, Media and Communications from Kenya's Moi University. Agnes currently serves as a journalist for ACI Africa.