Sudanese Authorities Urged to Investigate Murder of Catholic Permanent Deacon’s Children

Credit: CSW

The UK-based human rights foundation, Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW), is calling for a speedy investigation into the murder of three children of a Catholic Permanent Deacon following an attack by extremists on their ’s home in Sudan.

CSW reported on Tuesday, August 23 that the home of the late Deacon Azrag Barnab was attacked in the Al-Omda neighborhood of Garsilla in Central Darfur, Sudan, on July 13, leaving three of the Catholic Church leader’s children dead.

According to the Christian human rights entity, the home of the deceased Permanent Deacon was set alight at midnight by extremists who called it the “Kafir’s house”.

“Mr. Barnab’s six-year-old son and nine-year-old daughter died in the fire. His older son, aged 11, managed to escape, but died several days later in hospital from his injuries,” CSW has reported.

Mr. Barnab himself is said to have died in hospital in November 2021 in a suspected poisoning incident.


According to CSW, the family of the Permanent Deacon filed a police report on his case, but authorities failed to investigate the circumstances surrounding his death sufficiently.

In the August 23 report, CSW’s Founder President Mervyn Thomas expresses sympathy for Deacon Barnab’s losses, noting that the family had undergone “horrific” situations.

“CSW extends our deepest condolences to the family of Mr. Azrag Barnab, who have endured horrific losses over the past nine months,” Mr. Mervyn says.

He adds, “The death of a Church Deacon in suspicious circumstances, followed by the appalling murders of three of his children in an arson attack on their family home, warrant a full and independent investigation.”

“The authorities, including the military leaders who are now in de facto control of the country, must ensure that the perpetrators of extremist violence against the Christian community in Central Darfur are swiftly brought to justice,” the CSW official says in the August 23 report. 

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CSW has expressed concern that hostility towards Christian communities in Central Darfur has been on the rise since the October 2021 military coup that brought an end to Sudan's civilian-led transitional government.

The Christian entity says that shortly after the coup, Church leaders living in camps for internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Darfur reported receiving threats from officials who told them they would face apostasy charges if they continued to meet to pray.

In July, four men from Central Darfur were charged with apostasy, despite the transitional government removing it from the criminal statute books, CSW has reported, adding that the men’s case is due in court at the end of August.

This increase in threats and violence, CSW reports, has led to the closure of three churches in Zalingei, Central Darfur this year. The foundation highlights the closure of Christ’s Light Church in January, the Episcopal Church in April, and the Baptist Church in June.

“In each case, the respective church leaders took the decision to close their places of worship for the safety of their communities. Another church building in Zalingei belonging to the Catholic Church was given to a plaintiff in a civil dispute in 2016,” the Christian human rights group reports.


CSW’s Founder President notes that the fact that religious leaders have been forced to close places of worship in order to protect their community is an indication of the severity of the threats, and “of the state’s lamentable failure to protect the right of this marginalized group to the freedoms of religion or belief, assembly and association, and expression.”

“We call on the international community to raise these cases with Sudan’s military leaders urgently and at every level, urging them to respect, protect and fulfill these rights for Christians in Darfur, and for every other religious and belief community in Sudan,” Mr. Mervyn says in the August 23 report.

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.