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Female activist arrested in Sudan for crime of apostasy

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Summary of story from Human Rights Watch, May 11, 2011

Human Rights Watch challenged the Sudanese authorities this week to immediately release community activist Hawa Abdallah or formally charge her with a credible, recognized offence.

Abdallah, who was arrested earlier this month, is also a staff member of the United Nations/African Union peacekeeping mission.

Sudanese authorities should guarantee her full due process rights, and her physical well-being, Human Rights Watch said.

On May 8, Sudan’s state news service published an article accusing Abdallah of “christianizing” children in displaced persons camps and of links to a rebel group.

The crime of apostasy (renouncing a religion) is punishable by death under Sudanese law. An accompanying photo of Abdallah holding a Bible shows visible signs of fatigue and what appear to be bruises on her face.

“We are deeply concerned that Hawa Abdallah is at risk of serious ill-treatment and torture,” said Daniel Bekele, Africa director at Human Rights Watch.

“The government’s own photo of her supports our concerns.”

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