ICC is Asking You to Call the Ethiopian Embassy Today to Demand Obsa Ogeto and Soka Araro be Set Free
International Christian Concern
On August 12, three Christian men were wrongfully arrested by Shenkore District officials and imprisoned in Shashemene, Ethiopia. Though accusations against Nura Araro were dropped resulting in his release from custody on August 18 following negotiations between International Christian Concern's Ethiopia In-country Representative, Adisu Amsalu, and prison house officials, Soka Araro and Obsa Ogeto face no less than five years and up to three years imprisonment respectively for crimes they did not commit. International Christian Concern (ICC) secured an attorney at law (name withheld for security concerns) to represent Soka and Obsa in August and is actively work with the local church to collect evidence on behalf of the accused and to demand that justice be served.
Following their initial arrest, Obsa was released on bail on 0ctober 15 by order of the Oromia National Regional State Supreme Court Southern Bench. Prior to his release on bail, Obsa was repeatedly denied medical attention for hemorrhoids developed as result of the unsanitary condition of the prison and dehydration brought on by the sickness induced by said hemorrhoids. In response, ICC's contracted attorney was able to negotiate for a private physician to treat Obsa from his cell.
Soka, unable to meet bail, continues to be held at the West Arsi Zone Prison in Shashemene.
Charged on September 18 with having violated Section 1B of Article 525 of the criminal code of Ethiopia, Obsa and Soka have yet to hear the alleged evidence against them. At each of the four hearings since the charges against the accused were handed down, the prosecution has been granted an extension to collect evidence, effectively postponing the presentation of that alleged evidence for more than three months. The prosecution filed its witnesses against Obsa and Soka at the latest hearing on December 10, after which the case was adjourned to December 25.
According to the Pastor of the accused (name withheld for security concerns), "Before their imprisonment, peoples sent messages to these guys, saying, 'if you are not back to your [Islamic] faith, you will face our trap.' Its [sic] widely known the imprisonment was religiously motivated. We know it to be an unconstitutional attack."
Nura expressed similar sentiments, telling ICC's in-country representative that, "They (local Muslims) orchestrated trap with police, Kebele (district) leaders, political officers and court judges as well. Even they agreed to kill one or three of us. They throw spear on me but God rescued me," concluding that, "We are ready to die for the truth what we understand it: Jesus is the true way."
ICC has and continues to make repeated calls to zone administrators regarding Obsa's and Soka's wrongful imprisonment, but has yet to see action taken. In response, ICC is now asking concerned Christians to place calls to Ethiopian embassies across the world to demand Soka's immediate and unconditional release and the acquittal of all charges against Obsa and Soka. For more information, please refer to the note at the end of this release.
A 97% Muslim area, Christians in Shashemene often suffer harassment for their faith. Driven from their homes and excommunicated from their communities, Christians face immense hardship following their conversion from Islam and, in many cases, are forced to rely on the goodwill of the local church for their basic needs. Increasingly engaged in expensive legal battles over their right to church property, the local church is struggling to meet the needs of ostracized converts, including providing support for the families of Christians, like Obsa and Soka, wrongfully imprisoned for their faith.
ICC's Regional Manager for Africa, Cameron Thomas, said, "Obsa and Soka deserve justice and the Christian community of Shashemene deserves the fair application of the law. As a nation committed to the protection of every individual's right to freely practice the religion of their choice, Ethiopia cannot stand to allow two innocent men to lose years of their life behind bars because of their Christian faith. The Ethiopian government must condemn the violation of Obsa's and Soka's fundamental rights, ensure that justice is served with regard to their case, and take measures to protect every Ethiopian's right to free religious practice. ICC is calling on the global body of Christ and the international community to join us in making a commitment to see Obsa and Soka set free without delay, and without condition. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the families of the accused."
For interviews, contact Cameron Thomas, Regional Manager for Africa: RM-Africa@persecution.org
Call Today and Demand Freedom for Obsa and Soka!
Join ICC in demanding the Ethiopian government ensures Soka's unconditional release and the immediate acquittal of all charges against Obsa and Soka. Consider calling your Ethiopian Embassy today using the contact information and call script provided below, or by express your concerns for Obsa and Soka in your own words. In calling, please remember to be respectful, professional and representative of Christ.
United States of America(+1) 202 364 1200
(+44) 20 7589 7212
(+49) 03 077 2060
(+39) 06 441 6161
(+33) 14 783 8395
(+61) 26 295 9984
Hi, my name is ________, and I'm calling on behalf of Obsa Ogeto and Soka Araro, two Christians wrongfully arrested and detained by Shashemene police in August of this year. Obsa and Soka have spent months defending themselves against charges levied by corrupt officials acting on evidence falsified by local Muslims outraged by their conversion from Islam to Christianity. I, and many other concerned Christians worldwide, would appreciate your government's commitment to right this terrible wrong by restoring justice to these men and their families. Thank you for your time and consideration, and may God bless you.
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You are free to disseminate this news story. We request that you reference International Christian Concern (ICC) and include our web address, www.persecution.org. ICC is a Washington D.C.-based human rights organization that exists to help persecuted Christians worldwide. ICC provides Awareness, Advocacy, and Assistance to the worldwide persecuted Church. For additional information or for an interview, contact ICC at 800-422-5441.