Saudis Fail to Respond to Indian Episcopate's Plea

Church Appeals for Release of Brian Savio O’Connor

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NEW DELHI, India, JUNE 9, 2004 ( The Indian bishops’ conference have received no reply from the Saudi Arabian Embassy here regarding an Indian citizen being tortured and imprisoned in the Mideast kingdom for his faith.

The bishops’ conference sent an official letter to the embassy asking about Brian Savio O’Connor of Karnataka, who has been working in Saudi Arabia, but the episcopate received no reply.

The bishops have now called on the government of India to take official diplomatic action and ask the Saudi authorities to release O’Connor, conference spokesman Father Babu Joseph told Fides.

In India, especially in the state of Karnataka, the Church has called on Christians to pray for the man’s release.

The All India Catholic Union, a lay organization representing India’s 16 million lay Catholics, sent a telegram to the Saudi king through the ambassador in New Delhi expressing strong protest and calling for O’Connor’s release.

«Religious freedom is part of today’s civilization. It is one of the rights recognized by the United Nations for every man and women,» said John Dayal, vice president of the Catholic Union.

O’Connor was beaten and tortured because he was seen praying to Jesus, officials said. O’Connor was arrested six months ago by Saudi religious police. He was taken to Ali Hira prison in Riyadh where he was whipped and tortured with electric wires. His family believes O’Connor is now detained in Olaya prison with a broken rib.

He has been charged with drug peddling and preaching Christianity, crimes punishable by death. His relations say the evidence was fabricated to foist the drug charge on Brian. His family accused the Saudi police of forcing O’Connor to convert to Islam and threatening him if he refused.

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