November 9, 2011 (KHARTOUM) – Two German citizens have been arrested in Sudan on suspicion of attempting to collect information about claims of displacement arising from the construction of Merowe Dam upcountry, sources told Sudan Tribune.
- Photo of a protest against the construction of a dam in northern Sudan (http://www.internationalrivers.org)
More than 100,000 persons have been displaced in Nile River state in northern Sudan due to the 2010 construction of the Chinese-engineered Merowe Dam on the Fourth cataract of the River Nile.
The displaced population belongs to three riverian communities, Hamdab, Amri and the Manasir, who largely opposed the dam and demanded compensation for the damage of their properties as a result of its construction.
Sources speaking to Sudan Tribune said that local security authorities arrested two German citizens on Saturday, 5 November, and transferred them to the capital Khartoum, where they underwent intensive investigation.
The two suspects, a man and a woman, are accused by the authorities of seeking to generate international publicity around the issue of Merowe Dam’s affected population.
According to the sources, the authorities suspect that the two Germans traveled to the Nile River State in order to collect further evidence on the involvement of a German company in the construction of the dam.
This is in reference to the German consultant, Lahmeyer Int, which has come under investigation on charges stemming from a complaint filed by the European Center of Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR) against the background of the company’s participation in the dam construction.
The sources said that the two Germans arrived in Khartoum on tourist visas but they traveled to Nile River in the company of ’people known for their opposition to Merowe Dam,’ adding that those people are affiliated to the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement North (SPLM-N), a banned opposition party.
The Sudanese Media Center, a website run by the country’s intelligence services, reported statements by someone it identified as ’the chairman of the committee for the population affected by Merowe Dam in the Nile River [state],’ who said that the arrest of the two Germans had served to ’thwart the biggest attempt to internationalise the issue of Merowe affected population.’
He further said that the two arrested individuals were likely to have been sent by the German prosecutors who accepted “some complaints from people opposed to Merowe Dam.”
Meanwhile, a spokesman for Sudan’s foreign ministry has revealed that contacts were underway to release the suspects.
The spokesman, Al-Ubayd Adam Muroah, told the Khartoum-based, privately owned newspaper Al-Ahdath on Thursday that Sudan’s foreign minister Ali Karti had received a phone call from his German counterpart who asked for information about the case.
Muroah further revealed that a senior German diplomat had already arrived in Khartoum on Wednesday to follow up the case with Sudanese authorities, adding he expects the two suspects to be released soon.