12 April 2002
After much prayer and international pressure Bishop Bullen Dolli and Dr. Peter Hammond have been freed by the Sudanese Peoples Liberation Army (SPLA). They had been detained in Yei, the headquarters of the SPLA in Western Equatoria.
Intensive investigation by the SPLA Public Security Office and Military Intelligence revealed an intricate plot to discredit and to murder Bishop Bullen Dolli and Rev. Peter Hammond.
The drama began last year when short wave radios were brought into Southern Sudan by Frontline Fellowship and handed over as gifts to the Episcopal Church of Sudan. In December 2001 orders went out to confiscate the radios and arrest those involved with them. Two church radio operators Joseph and Dominic were whipped with over 75 lashes each for resisting handing over the radios to SPLA soldiers.
Peter Hammond and Tim Keller with a poster printed by the Argus (a Western Cape Newspaper) after their safe return.When Frontline missionary Timothy Keller refused to hand over the mission’s radio he was arrested and marched off to a military base 25 miles away.
It was later revealed that the SPLA had received information from sources within the Khartoum government that the National Islamic Front was going to place four short wave radios into Western Equatoria for espionage purposes. When Frontline Fellowship brought in the radios for the Churches it was assumed that Bishop Bullen Dolli and missionary Peter Hammond must be the ones in contact with the Islamic Government. Arrest warrants were issued for the Bishop and for the Director of Frontline Fellowship.
It is now thought that this was a disinformation campaign orchestrated by the Sudan Government to cause problems for the missionaries and for the churches as well as to discredit the SPLA for arresting Christian Leaders. The SPLA normally respects the Church and protects religious freedom.
Bishop Bullen Dolli is well known for his strong public stand against the National Islamic Front (NIF) Government. He recently received an award for defending religious freedom from the Institute for Religion and Democracy in Washington DC. Throughout 35 states he testified of the NIF’s brutal religious persecution of Christians in Southern Sudan. Bishop Bullen’s cathedral in Lui is still in ruins from a bombing campaign by the Sudan Air Force. It seemed particularly incredible that the Bishop could be accused of collaborating with the Islamic regime as his only brother was killed by them.
Dr. Peter Hammond’s writing and work on behalf of the suffering Christians in Sudan is well known internationally, particularly his Faith Under Fire in Sudan book and Sudan the Hidden Holocaust video. The Government of Sudan has even published articles on their official website which states that “Peter Hammond should expect to be bombed when he comes to Sudan…Hammond should expect to be shot on sight…because his writings make him an enemy of the State.”
After thorough investigations, the security services of the SPLA concluded that the Bishop and missionary were innocent of the charges and concluded that they were victims of an elaborate disinformation campaign, which included some foreigners in New Sudan. The leadership of the SPLA issued orders that Bishop Bullen Dolli and Dr. Peter Hammond were cleared of all charges and were free to travel anywhere in the New Sudan. SPLA commanders were also instructed to provide them with every protection.
On Thursday 11th of April, they were released and Bishop Bullen Dolli immediately began a synod for the Diocese of Lui. Peter Hammond returned to Cape Town in time for the 20th Anniversary celebrations of Frontline Fellowship and to launch a new film on Sudan – “Terrorism and Persecution.”
For interview arrangements contact Charmaine Baker: Telephone + 27-21-689-4480