ASIA/INDIA - Remember O’Connor, Indian Christian detained in a Saudi Arabia prison on false charges of drug abuse: appeal from Middle East Concern

Wednesday, 28 July 2004

New Delhi (Fides Service) - A call to persevere with the international prayer campaign and with political mobilisation to obtain the release of Brian Savio O’Connor from prison in Saudi Arabia has been launched by the Middle East Concern (MEC) concerned with the conditions of Christians in Arab countries in a statement sent to Fides. Brian Savio O’Connor from Karnataka India is detained in prison and has been tortured is a Christian. MEC watches Middle East countries and informs world public opinion of violations of human rights, particularly cases where freedom of religion is denied.
In it statement Middle East Concern underlines the injustice of O’Connor’s situation in prison in Ryad where he has been beaten and tortured by the Saudi religious police. MEC says O’Connor told a person who managed to visit him in prison that there is no evidence to prove the charges against him of abuse of alcohol and drugs. “We are very sad that Brian is still in prison -MEC says- we are supporting him with prayers the Heavenly Father to keep him strong in faith today and always. We intend continue to pressure international public opinion and governments to intervene with the Saudi authorities for his release ”.
In June the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India asked to Indian government to take diplomatic steps to obtain O’Connor’s release. All over India, especially in Karnataka, from where O’Connor hails, Christians are praying for his release.
The All India Catholic Union, which represents 16 million lay Catholics, has written to the King of Saudi Arabia demanding the release of the Indian Christian O’Connor and respect for religious freedom.
O’Connor was beaten and tortured months ago by the Muttawa, or religious police in Saudi Arabia. He was then arrested and charged with drug abuse a crime which can be punished with the death penalty. His family members say that the police used death threats to force Brian to convert to Islam.
(PA) (Agenzia Fides 28/7/2004 lines 32 words 288)