CSI is an international, Christian human rights organization, campaigning for religious liberty and human dignity, and assisting victims of religious persecution, victimized children and victims of catastrophe. CSI was founded in 1977 in Switzerland by Rev. Hans Stückelberger, following peaceful demonstrations in support of persecuted Christians. Learn more about CSI at http://csi-usa.org
I remember the South a little, but I know nothing about it.I was just a toddler when I was kidnapped.Arab cattle keepers came to my house when my parents were away and took me.They put me on a bull’s back and took me to the North.
I lived in the North, in a cattle camp in Adeela, for twenty-five years.My master was a man named Adi Dloom Deldoom.He is a bad man.He and the other masters beat people terribly.Life is terrible for southerners in the North.I have scars on my forehead and the back of my head from his beatings.
My masters forced me into Islam.They wouldn’t let me eat with other people unless I was a Muslim.
I decided to escape because of the beatings.I took my master’s cattle to the bush, and then ran away.I walked for five days to the city of Abu Jabra, then through the forest to South Sudan.I arrived here a few days ago.I knew South Sudan was free, and I wanted to be here.
I am staying with the local payam administrator here.I want to go to church, and find my family.I know my mother’s first name, and the names of two of my sisters. I do not know the names of my brothers or my father.
Many, many people are still trapped in slavery where I came from.
Help CSI rescue people trapped in slavery in Sudan, like the people Matot left behind. To donate to this program, go to www.csi-usa.org.
In the first six months of 2012, the Syrian city of Qusayr was religiously cleansed.The entire Christian population of the city – over 800 families - was expelled by armed Islamic jihadists fighting against the Syrian regime.
On CSI’s recent mission to Syria, we were able to interview one of the survivors of the cleansing.Normally we do not use the real names or show the faces of victims of religious persecution from Syria, for security reasons.This family, however, insisted that their real names be used and their faces be shown.They want the world to know their story.
Name: Fadul Abu Yohanna Kasouhah (male, early twenties, married with five children.)
Interviewed by Dr. John Eibner, June 2013
I am from Qusayr, Syria.I lost my uncle and my two cousins.They were killed there.
There were about 40,000 people in Qusayr before the war, including 7,000 Christians and a few Alawites.The rest were Sunni Muslims.
In late 2011, the Sunni townsmen came and told us to either join us in anti-regime demonstrations or leave the town.If we didn’t, we would be killed.
The same announcement was carried on the loudspeakers on the mosques in the city.They named Christian families by name.There were 20 mosques in Qusayr.All of them were involved in this.
My cousin Bater said, “We will not leave.This is our town, our land.” He was recently married, and his wife was seven months pregnant.They shot him to death as he was going to work on his motorbike.
I tried to take the body, but I was stopped by armed men wouldn’t let me.They wanted to dismember it.But my brother and uncle retrieved the body while under fire and took it to the hospital.
We know the people who killed Bater.I didn’t know their names but I recognized them as locals.We never had a problem with them in the past.
We lived in a place known as “Christian Street.” The rebels started shooting at people on the street. In March 2012, many foreign jihadis came to Qusayr and surrounded Christian Street.They were joined by a mob of local Sunnis. Ten of us - me and my relatives - defended all of the Christians as they hid in their homes.There were 30 government soldiers fighting together with us.This was a battle for our homes.
There was non-stop shooting between 6 am and 9 am.My cousin Kassan Hanna was shot in the head.My uncle tried to retrieve his body, and he was shot dead.We escaped down a back street and took shelter in an army checkpoint.The attackers burned all the houses.We heard them shouting, “We killed Hanna and his family.All Christians must leave.”
The next day, all the Christians did leave Qusayr – 870 families.Only two or three very old Christians stayed.Most left with nothing.No one helped us.All the men in our family are construction workers.We have no connections to the government or security forces.
I joined in the army’s fight to retake Qusayr. [Regime forces recaptured Qusayr from the rebels in June 2013].I’ve already started repairing my home.Most of the street was totally destroyed. There is no electricity there, but we can rebuild.We found the church destroyed, and the icons were burned and intentionally desecrated.
Please put my story on the internet so that people can learn the truth.
Through local partners in Syria, CSI is helping provide Christian families forced from their homes in Homs, Qusayr, Aleppo and elsewhere with food, medical care, shelter, and education.You can donate to these efforts at our website: www.csi-usa.org.
I was very young when I was abducted, but I remember it.I was in Rum Angar.There was fighting, and I saw some people killed.I was put on horseback by the raiders and taken to the North.I lived in Dar Afat in Kordofan state with a man named Manook Adam.
Manook Adam was not a good person.He beat me if I was too sick to work.He gave me food, but not very much – just a little flour to mix with milk to make porridge.His wife, Alim Adit, also beat me.
He made me take care of his cattle.Every year, he would promise me a cow of my own, “as soon as it grows up.” When the cow grew up, he would say, “No, not that cow, another.” This happened many times.I never got a cow.
Manook has four daughters and five sons.He also called me his child, but he treated me differently.His children went to school.I never got to go to school.
Many times, Manook promised to give me one of his daughters to marry, as soon as she matured.Each time the daughter he promised me matured, he said, “Not this one, another.”
Another boy who was abducted from Rum Angar with me worked for Manook Adam.Once, this boy was giving water to Manook’s cattle.One of the neighbor’s cows came and butted in and started drinking water too.The boy became angry and beat the cow, and it died.Then the neighbor came and cut the boy’s throat.Manook wasn’t angry about it.He said the boy was “just a servant, just a jengai [a racial epithet].”
Before I went to live in the North, I was a Christian, but there was no church where I lived.Manook Adam was a Muslim, and I became a Muslim in the North.He forced me to.He said, “I don’t want a kaffir [unbeliever] living with me.You must be a Muslim.” He renamed me Mohammad, and made me pray with him every evening.I also had to learn about the Qur’an with the other boys during Ramadan.
I was so happy when the slave retriever came because I knew I was going south to see my relatives, my uncles and my brothers.I never imagined I would one day come back to the South.Here we are in freedom, not in somebody else’s hand.I can work as a farmer.
I will have to decide whether to go to the church or the mosque here.There were a few churches in Dar Afat, but I was forced to go to the mosque.
I have two younger brothers still in slavery in the North – Door, and Door Garang.I have heard that they are in Abu Jaba.I don’t know where my parents are.
The beads in my hand are for prayer.When you finish praying, you count the beads all the way through.Every time you count 10 beads, you say, “In the name of God, the merciful, the compassionate.”
To help free Athian’s brothers and others still held in slavery in North Sudan, go to www.csi-usa.org.
I know I was abducted, but I don’t remember it.I don’t know where I’m from in the South.I don’t remember my parents.But I knew I didn’t belong in the North.When the slave retriever brought me to the group of people he was taking back to the South, I realized I belonged with them.
I grew up in Meiram in North Sudan. I lived with my master, Adallah Siid. Adallah Siid made me do difficult jobs, and beat me if I was tired.He also beat Abuk and Achol, two older slaves in his house. They were kind to me.
One day six years ago, I was too sick to work, and I told Adallah.He took a stick and beat me on the leg with it.After that, my leg became thinner and thinner. Now it won’t move on its own.
I was about to be circumcised when I was freed.I don’t know why they wanted to do this to me, but Adallah Siid told me they were going to.I knew refusal means punishment.
The slave retriever found me in the market, and negotiated for my release with Adallah.Abuk and Achol had to stay behind.
I’m happy to be in South Sudan.This is Dinka land.In the North, we were beaten all the time, but not here.There are churches here, and we’ve been going to church on Sunday.I like it very much.I think God is good.That’s why he brought me back here.When the rain comes, I will farm.I will also try to find my relatives.I forget my father’s face, but I remember his name.
Dr. John Eibner and his assistant, Joel Veldkamp, were in the Middle East recently to meet with Christian refugees from Syria, and to develop further CSI’s program for supporting Syrian Christians threatened by war and religious cleansing.
Thanks to our supporters, CSI has already been supplying vital humanitarian aid to Christians living on the frontlines of the Syrian Civil War.
On this trip, Dr. Eibner met with partners who help provide food and shelter to destitute survivors who fled the horrors of war, or were expelled from their homes by jihadists fighting against Syria’s government.CSI is preparing to intensify this aid program.
Please give generously to this project, so that we can show effective solidarity with our persecuted brothers and sisters in Syria!
The war in Syria is growing worse, and leading authorities are beginning to echo the Genocide Warning CSI issued for Syria eighteen months ago. A report commissioned by the U.S. Holocaust Museum recently warned that Syria is facing "mass atrocities and cleansing that could amount to genocide in some areas."
For security reasons, we cannot share the names or pictures of these brave Christians, but we would like you to hear some of the stories they shared with us:
“All the Christians left Qusayr nine months ago. The three leading Christian families in the town had been working with the army.They were massacred in their homes, and then the mosques broadcast messages warning the rest of the Christians to leave.”
“The rebels are expelling Christian and Alawite people from their villages in Latakia province and taking their homes.”
“I left Homs when the rebels ambushed and massacred a group of 20 soldiers right in front of our building.We all left, because we were afraid.I returned two months later and found that the entire monastery had been destroyed by rocket fire and that crosses and icons had been intentionally desecrated.”
“The kidnapping of the two archbishops in Aleppo was like a final warning to us Christians.If it could happen to them, then nobody is safe from attack.”
“When the revolution started, every night at 7 PM I would hear people chanting, ‘Alawites to the grave, Christians to Beirut!’ I was really scared the first time I heard it, so I closed my pharmacy and went home. But it happened every night.”
“The entire Christian quarter of Homs has been destroyed.The rebels chose to fight the government there, and when the Christians left to escape the fighting, they took over their homes.Now their homes are all gone.”
“This is our country.The Middle East cannot live without Christians.It won’t work.Please help us stay here.”
Please help our Christian brothers and sisters in Syria survive this terrible war!Through our partners in Syria, we can feed a family of five in a war-torn city for a month for just $60.00.We will also help meet other urgent needs for these survivors, such as shelter, clothing and medical aid.
Arab/Muslim name: Abdul Fadl Abdullah Ash-Sharif [“slave of Fadl Abdullah Ash-Sharif”]
Liberated: March 2013
I was captured when I was about 12 years old, in 2001.There was fighting in my village, Wakabil, and I was taken by the raiders.I remember seeing a dead body lying on the ground as I was taken away.
When we arrived in the North, the raiders divided us up.I went to live in Baba Noussa in Kordofan state, with a man named Fadl Abdullah Ash-Sharif.He made me his son.I didn’t like that, but there was no way to resist.He made me work, selling water from house to house in town from his donkey cart.Fadl was a bad man.He would beat me if he thought I didn’t feed the donkey enough, or if I didn’t make enough money selling water.
I slept alone in a rakuba [hut] made from millet cane.Other Dinka slaves worked in Fadl’s fields, but I didn’t see them very often.I would talk to them when I brought them water.They were kind people.
Fadl had seven children and two wives.The children were kind to me but the wives often didn’t give me enough food.
I learned to speak Arabic, but I had no time to learn Islam because of my work.In the South, my family was Christian, but there was no church nearby for us to attend.
I was brought back to the South by the slave retriever.He came to Fadl’s house and talked to him.After they talked, they called me in to join them.Fadl asked me, “Do you want to go with this man?” I said yes, because I wanted to go home.At first, Fadl seemed to refuse, but he eventually agreed.
I sometimes thought I might get to come back to the South, but I wasn’t sure.I’m so happy to be here.I don’t know where my parents are, but I will look for them.I will work farming peanuts.I want to become a Catholic Christian.I thank you so much, and I thank the slave retriever who brought us here from far away.In the name of Jesus, thank you.
Thank you for helping to free Marach! Help CSI bring freedom to more people enslaved in North Sudan by donating at our website.
I was born in Malwal Bai.I was 14 when I was abducted.I was in my sister’s house in Mabiar Anguei, along the railway.The murahileen came on horseback.They took a lot of people, both children and adults.My sister’s neighbor’s child was executed because she was too exhausted to walk.The raiders killed another child and an old man for the same reason.They were either beaten to death or their throats were slit.Three young men who tried to run away were shot and killed as they ran.I saw this with my own eyes.
It took us three days to reach the north.When we arrived, we were divided up.A man named Maduba Adam from Mowglid took me.He used me as a wife.He did not ask me what I wanted.I had five children from him.He did not treat me well.He hit me all the time.
Maduba had a wife, named Fatima.She didn’t like me.She insulted me, calling me “jengai” [a racial epithet].I had to do everything in the house while she sat around.
Maduba wanted me to be a Muslim.He and his wife and brothers taught me Arabic, and the Qur’an. [Achol recites a sura from the Qu’ran for the interviewers, and converses with them in formal Arabic.]I am a Muslim, and I will continue in Islam.But I will not go back to the North.They beat people and insult people there.I don’t want to go back.
A year ago, I tried to escape.I heard that South Sudan was independent, and I was sick of always being beaten.I tried to escape with another female slave in Maduba’s house, but we were caught, and Maduba tried to kill me by slitting my throat.He cut my throat deeply. [Massive scarring on the throat is visible.] I screamed for help and lost consciousness, and the neighbors and the local authorities came and rescued me.They took me to the health center.The slave retriever found me there.
I wanted to take my children to South Sudan, but they remained behind.So did the woman who tried to run away with me.I told the slave retriever about my children.He told me, “It’s not possible to bring them now, but I will try to get them later.” Their names are Hamad, Gadija, Kaltouma, Fanna and Ali – two boys and three girls.I’m not sure if I will see them again.
Athian Athian Bol (male, middle-aged) and Garang Athian Athian (male, 8)
Liberated: March 2013
Athian: I was captured in 1987.I was taking my cows to sell in Rum Aker.Before I entered the town, the murahileenfound me and took me and my cows.
In the North, I lived in Abu Jaber, working as a farm laborer for a man named Adam Boro.He was only kind to me if I worked from morning to evening.I was a Christian before, but in the North I was forced to become a Muslim.I was renamed Mohammad Nouf.
This is my son, Garang.He was born in 2005.His mother was also a slave, named Agol Wach.Adam Boro gave her to me.Adam Boro was not kind to Garang.He would beat him up if he refused to run errands.
One Saturday, I learned that the slave retriever was in a nearby town name Gura.I decided to run away with Garang to find him.Agol didn’t know we were leaving.She was away tending the sheep, and there was no time to tell her.I couldn’t risk losing the chance.
I left because I was in slavery, and working without pay.But I was afraid.I would have been killed if we were caught.Garang might have been too.
The journey south was not easy for Garang.At times there was not enough water or food.He has become sick with a cough.
I want to see Agol again.I need her.If there is a way she can be brought home, I want that.The slave retriever knows about her, and has promised to find her if he can.
Here in the South, I will go to where I was born: Man Tiout.I will try to be a farmer there.
I’m very happy to be in the South.I will not be enslaved again!
In this powerful piece for the Jewish Advocate, Jewish human rights activist Dr. Charles Jacobs cites CSI’s Genocide Warning for religious minorities in the Middle East, and examines the reasons for the West’s silence on this issue:
Why is the West so shamefully silent in the face of the onslaught against Christian peoples and communities throughout the Islamic realm?
If the reasons for this are not understood - and if the silence continues - we are almost sure to witness bloody religious/ ethnic “cleansings,” if not actual genocides.
The Syrian Christians in Damascus, whose church has just been bombed by anti-Bashar al-Assad rebels, know their community will be wiped out if Assad is toppled. The Christian Copts in Egypt can see what the Salafists have in store for them as the Muslim Brotherhood assumes more and more control. The Copts’ daughters are already being raped, their priests beaten, their churches set aflame. From Nigeria to Malaysia, from Pakistan to Iraq, from Uzbekistan to Tanzania, Christians are arrested, harassed and threatened. Murder is in the air.
Some in the West see what is coming. The Middle East Forum recently launched a monthly update on Christian persecution in Islamic lands. Last year, Christian Solidarity International (CSI) issued a “genocide warning” concerning the endangered non-Muslim minorities (mostly Christians) in North Africa and the broader Islamic Middle East. John Eibner, President of CSI’s USA branch, asked President Barack Obama to speak out on behalf of the endangered Christians.
Obama has not spoken out. But neither have the “human rights” community and other “caring and compassionate” people who endlessly talk about social justice. And sadly, neither have Christian pastors and priests. Why are both the left and the Christians abandoning these people to their fate? I can see 10 reasons.
The left’s silence
1. Crime by non-Westerners distracts from the left’s message. For many Western progressives, guilt over past Western crimes of colonialism and slavery narrows their focus to horrors committed by Westerners. This enables them to cast themselves as “the good whites” and be exonerated of Western sin. Apartheid committed by South African whites moved them greatly; to protest Arab/Muslim attacks today on Christians would distract from their message and blunt their purpose.
2. Christians cannot be seen as victims.
Progressives perseverate on the notion that Christian missionaries were an arm of Western colonialists, and tricked Asian and African natives with religious mumbo jumbo. Also uppermost in their minds: Christians allowed -and Christian teachings abetted - Hitler’s genocide of Europe’s Jews. The progressives’ history, however, omits centuries of Islamic conquest (by the sword, not the work of missionaries), slaughter, and enslavement of pagans and subjugation of Jewish and Christian communities - which, by the way, preceded Islam in Egypt and of course Israel. Few progressives ever understood that “the tragedy of Sudan” was a murderous anti-Christian (and anti-tribalist) jihad.
3. Pointing to crimes by one’s adversaries hinders “peace.”
Apart from their incomplete and biased view of history, progressives have a PC/therapeutic view of peacemaking: Discussion of Islamist human-rights crimes is barred as “unhelpful” at best and “racist” at worst. To make peace, their theory goes, we must appease and not offend “the other,” and we must think of our adversaries as no different from ourselves. One should not describe cultures that wish only to dominate, encourage men to rape, and force others to reject their own religious faiths. In other words, progressives would object to reporting on what is happening to the Christians in the Muslim world.
4. Many progressives see themselves in a culture war with Christians.
Many progressives may not wish to help persecuted Christians in the Middle East and in Asia because they are at war with Western Christians here over such things as gay marriage, women’s clergy inequality, and abortion. Why help your “enemies?”
5. Ignorance, which is sometimes willful.
For the sake of peaceful relations, the media (see “progressives” above) fails to fully inform Christians about Christian suffering at the hands of Muslim radicals. Christian pastors, some of whom have been told by their Muslim “dialogue partners” that any such talk threatens to harm interfaith harmony here, opt for a similar silence. The Diocese of Worcester recently cancelled a talk on Christian persecution by renowned scholar Robert Spencer of JihadWatch.org for precisely that reason.
6. Fear of doing further harm.
The Christian communities in the Islamic realm are effectively hostages. Popes and preachers have known for centuries that Western agitation for Christian rights under - and protection from - their Muslim overlords pose threats to the very lives of the people they wish to help.
7. Christians are not a “people.”
Christians here don’t identify with other practitioners of their faith as “family” - in the way, for example, that Jews do. Recently, Christian students at Gordon College, a Christian school on the North Shore, explained to me that unlike the Jews who mobilized throughout all their communities when one Jew - Gilad Shallit - was kidnapped, Christians are not “a family like the Jews who all come from Abraham and who carry his blood.” (I suggested that the global jihad might cure them of this viewpoint - that their fate was tied now to all Christians.)
8. Few available victims as spokespeople.
When the American Anti-Slavery Group organized mass American support for freeing the slaves of Sudan, our effort was helped immeasurably by escaped slaves who told their personal stories eloquently in English at American churches, synagogues and on campuses. Without such powerful voices here, awakening and mobilizing the Christians - and all Americans - will be much more difficult.
9. Christians cut off from their history
In the American psyche, as Henry Ford suggested, “history is bunk.” Among American Christians there is not much interest in keeping foreign, ancient Christian communities alive, even the cradles of Christian civilization. In Bethlehem, Christians are disappearing at an alarming rate due to Arab/Islamist pressure, with no audible protest in the West.
10. Christian Zionists are otherwise occupied.
Christian Zionists know more than most about Christian suffering under the Islamists. But, strange as it may seem to us Jews, they are motivated overwhelmingly by the duty they feel toward the Jewish people. They have not been convinced that mobilizing here for their own Christian brethren in the Middle East would do more for Israel (I believe it just might) than continuing to “just” be the amazing Zionists they are.
Eibner put it this way in his letter to President Obama: “At the Holocaust Museum, Mr. President, you repeated a truth of which American policymakers must never lose sight: “Preventing mass atrocities and genocide is a core national security interest and a core moral responsibility of the United States of America.”
Americans of all political stripes and religious denominations need to remind ourselves of whom we are - and ask ourselves whom we would be if we leave the Christians to what so clearly seems a terrible, terrible fate.
These people are returning home with nothing but the clothes on their back. Many of them have illnesses and severe wounds from their masters. We are trying to reunite them with their families, and providing them with medical care, essential survival supplies, and a female goat.
You can support this effort by making an immediate donation. $50 purchases enough cattle vaccine to exchange for a person’s freedom. Another $50 is enough to buy that person a survival kit. Your gifts of any size will make a huge difference for our captive brothers and sisters. Please make a donation here
All of these people were either kidnapped and enslaved during Sudan’s civil war, or born into slavery. There is peace now between North and South Sudan, but it is fragile, and we do not know how long it may last. This peace has given us a window of opportunity, and we are determined to free as many people as we can.
The UN and other international organizations are doing little to nothing to free the slaves of Sudan. But working together, you and I can prevent another generation from being born into slavery in Sudan.
I am still learning the stories of the people I have met here, but sadly, after undertaking many missions like this one, I know what to expect. I expect to meet people like Nyibol, an eight-year-old girl I met on my last trip to South Sudan. Nyibol had a huge, infected wound on her leg. She told me that her master had attacked her with a machete when he found her playing with other enslaved children.
Nyibol had no knowledge of life outside of slavery. She did not know who her parents were, or where her home village was.
But she knew one thing.
As Frederick Douglass, the great American abolitionist, once said, “There is not a man beneath the canopy of heaven, that does not know that slavery is wrong for him.”
Thank you for working with CSI to defend this truth.