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TMCNet:  Sudanese Advocates Risk Their Lives to Bring Freedom to Their Country

[December 30, 2013]

Sudanese Advocates Risk Their Lives to Bring Freedom to Their Country

RICHMOND, Va. --(Business Wire)--

On December 30, 2013, Hardwired, Inc. made it possible for two prominent Sudanese human rights advocates to flee imminent torture and continue their work promoting constitutional reform among the Sudanese people from the US. Six months ago, Safwan Hegaze and Nahmia Shaloka fled their country after they were interrogated by Sudan's National Security office designated for "Christian Affairs" and threatened with torture for advocating religious freedom in Sudan's draft constitution.

"We left everything behind in Sudan and I wasn't sure how I would be able to help my people again," said Shaloka. "But when Hardwired made it possible for us to continue our studies in the US, my hope was restored because we can keep working to bring justice and unity for people of all faiths in Sudan."

Hardwired's founder, Tina Ramirez, met Hegaze and Shaloka at a conference that brought Sudanese Christian, Muslim, and minority rights leaders together to learn how to advocate for each other in their new constitution. "We knew the government was against religious freedom, but since Bashir's policies of religious oppression affect every Sudanese regardless of their gender, religion, or ethnicity, I believe it is the best antidote for their freedom," said Ramirez. When the advocates were arrested, she immediately worked to suppot them so they could continue their important work.


Following the secession of South Sudan in 2011, President Omar al Bashir, threatened to impose criminal sharia and attacked those promoting constitutional reform. Hegaze said, "We wanted to make our country better so everyone could live together in peace and freedom but the government doesn't want anyone to know their rights and for this we were threatened with torture and forced to flee for our lives." He continued, "I left my family, work, and friends in the middle of the night and then I cried for my country, asking myself, 'Why is our country like this?'"

When he crossed the border from Sudan, Hegaze told himself, "I have to forget what has happened and find a new way start to fight again to help our country rebuild through a new constitution that protects the rights of everyone because our country is diverse and cannot be governed by one idea or vision or religion." He continued, "I'm so thankful for the opportunity to be here in the land of freedom and I want to make the most of this opportunity for my people because everyone has a right to be a part of the new constitution and future of Sudan."

Hegaze and Shaloka will also help Hardwired train young leaders in South Sudan to help the new nation transition from a sharia-based legal system to a common law-based legal system.

"Hardwired supports young leaders like these working together regardless of their beliefs to help end religious oppression for the benefit of all," said Ramirez. "They risked their lives for the sake of the dignity of others and the freedom of their country. We must stand with them."

About Hardwired: Hardwired is a non-profit organization working to end religious oppression worldwide. Training advocates to defend their rights under international human rights law and utilize social networks to mobilize public support in otherwise closed countries is Hardwired's mission. To learn more, please visit us at www.hardwiredglobal.org.

To learn more about Hardwired's work or to interview Hegaze and Shaloka about the situation in Sudan and/or South Sudan, please contact Bethany Haley at 623-238-2233 or info@hardwiredglobal.org.


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