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Cameron Thomas, Regional Manager for Africa: RM-Africa@persecution.org
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wrongly Imprisoned Christian to be Released and Acquitted of Charges in Ethiopia
By Rebecca Seiler, Communications Coordinator
International Christian Concern
Shortly after two Christian converts refused to recant their faith, local Muslims planted false evidence of the production and distribution of illegal substances on the converts' shared land. Police were notified soon after by the same group of Muslims and Soka Araro and Obsa Ogeto were quickly arrested. On November 12, 2014, Araro and Ogeto stood before the Oromiya Region Federal Court of Ethiopia. They were charged with the crime of growing and distributing illegal substances, which could result in a prison sentence of up to seven years.
Six months after Soka Araro's initial arrest in August, International Christian Concern is pleased to announce that he is expected to be finally released and acquitted on February 14, 2015.
Following the arrest in August, ICC immediately hired a lawyer to defend the men in court. Though Nura Araro was also briefly detained, accusations were dropped shortly after, when negotiations took place between ICC's local Ethiopia representative and prison officials. Ogeto was placed on bail in October and later released and acquitted of the charges in January.
Every year, Open Doors, a watchdog organization against the persecution of Christians, releases a ranking of the 50 countries with the worst levels of persecution. In 2015, Ethiopia was ranked #22 on the list. Though there is a significant Christian population in Ethiopia, Islamic extremism has been on the rise in multiple regions in recent years, causing a surge in the persecution of non-Muslims. Christians who come Muslim-background face increased persecution and extreme pressure to recant their faith, as seen in the case of Araro and Ogeto. The Ethiopian government has also limited freedom of expression, making it gradually more difficult for Christians in the Muslim-majority regions to worship openly.
In December, ICC organized a calling campaign to advocate for the freedom of these innocent men. Calls were made to Ethiopian embassies across the world, demanding the release of Araro and Ogeto. Through countless phone calls and generous support through the Hand of Hope - Legal Fund, ICC was able to play a part in the release of these wrongly imprisoned, innocent Christians.
ICC's Regional Manager for Africa, Cameron Thomas, said, "By abusing legal institutions, radical Muslims have greatly neglected the rights of Christians across Ethiopia in recent years. We have seen case after case documenting the rights of Christians being ignored solely on the basis of religion. When essential freedoms such as these are removed, as in the case of Araro and Ogeto, the international Christian community must stand up on their behalf. We have been overwhelmed by the outpouring of support for these men and could not be more thrilled for Soka Araro's upcoming release."
For interviews, contact Cameron Thomas, Regional Manager for Africa: RM-Africa@persecution.org
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