Cardinal Calls for Protest Campaign Against Sudan

For Condemning Christian Woman to Be Stoned to Death

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VATICAN CITY, FEB. 7, 2002 ( One of the Holy See´s highest exponents proposed the launching of an international campaign of protest against Sudan for violating human rights.

Cardinal Roberto Tucci, president of Vatican Radio´s administration committee, launched this initiative today when commenting on the case of 18-year-old Christian Abok Alfa Akok, condemned to death by stoning for being pregnant out of wedlock. The woman says she had been raped.

«For years in Sudan there has been authentic persecution by the Muslim government against the peoples of the south, black skins, of Christian or animist religion,» the cardinal told Vatican Radio.

«At the end of the year 2000, the civil war that began again in 1983 between the Arab Muslim north and the Christian, animist south, had cost the lives of some 2 million people,» he said.

«The Shariah [Islamic law] has been applied to a person who is not Muslim,» he said. «It would be appropriate to start a campaign of protest against what is happening.»

The cardinal in the past organized John Paul II´s international trips.

«Why doesn´t the U.N. intervene?» the cardinal wondered. «The United Nations Commission for Human Rights is concerned with the case, but perhaps this action should be supported by an authentic international campaign that will serve to shed light on the Sudanese situation.»

The first to support the cardinal´s initiative was Archbishop Laurent Monsengwo Pasinya of Kisangani, president of the Symposium of the Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar (SECAM).

The archbishop told ZENIT he is «profoundly concerned» over the news of the death sentence of the young woman and noted that Sudan is a member of the U.N. Commission of Human Rights.

The prelate believes that «the judicial process has been carried out in an incomprehensible language for the girl, who did not even have the right to defend herself, a right established by all laws that are inspired in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.»

«On behalf of SECAM and of the Catholic Church in Africa, I protest and invite all countries and bishops´ conferences to protest to defend religious liberty and oppressed persons, as is the case of this young woman,» the archbishop concluded.

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