Home | Comment & Analysis    Wednesday 13 September 2006

Sudan Islamic Totalitarianism


“The broad mass of the nation ... will more easily fall victim to a big lie than to a small one.” Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf (1925)

By Ahmed Elzobier

September 12, 2006 — Hitler words echoed 64 years later in one of the most unlikely places Sudan one of Africa most troubled countries. The NIF cell in the army executed a successful military coup on 30 June 1989. New chapter in the country history have began and in the first pages the new regime started writing series of lies as prelude for the biggest lie; summarized by Al Turbai the NIF Ideologue when he said “I told him (i.e.Omer Al Bashier) to go to the Palace and I will go to the prison”. Deception and trickery considered necessary in this takeover from a legitimate elected democratic government in Sudan. The conspirators knowing their limited popularity in the country they successfully cheated their way into power without resistance.

The plan composed of simple camouflage resembling Russian Dolls disguise techniques, using peripheral marginal unknown figures controlled by a kernel of hard core Islamist. To sustain and consolidate power the new regime used a tried and tested totalitarian methods., Coercions, Propaganda through state-controlled media, regulation and restriction of printed press, the use of mass surveillance, and widespread use of terror, intimidation tactics, imprisonment and torture, indoctrination targeting young people through education system.

Ingaz security forces are particularly notorious especially during the ghost houses period in the 1990s where thousands of political detainees were arrested and tortured and some even murdered or died due to the side effects of torture. The security forces in general are typically associated with totalitarian regimes, as their activities are not transparent to the public, their primary purpose is to maintain the political power of the state rather than uphold the rule of law, and they typically used as an instrument of political repression.

According to Kirkpatrick (1982) authoritarian regimes are primarily interested in their own survival, and as such have allowed for varying degrees of autonomy regarding elements of civil society, religious institutions, court, and the press. On the other hand, under totalitarianism, no individual or institution is autonomous from the state’s all-encompassing ideology, in the case of Ingaz the civilizing project is their main all-encompassing totalitarian ideology which was based on simple dogmatic slogan ‘Islam is the solution’. According to Arendt (1966) totalitarian state seeks to control not only economic and political issues but the attitudes, values, and beliefs of its population, erasing the distinction between state and society. The existence of an ideology that addresses all aspects of life and outlines means to attain the final goal, and a single mass party through which the people are mobilized to muster energy and support. Apparently this is a common feature in all totalitarian states and the Ingaz is not an exception on this regards. Arendt further noted that only with modern technology have governments acquired the means to control society; therefore, totalitarianism is, historically, a recent phenomenon in human society.

Ironically while most of the world celebrating the collapse of the Soviet Unions and the eastern European totalitarian states. History have stored different destiny for the Sudanese people, and Sudan is heading in the opposite direction. The Islamic movement in Sudan exploited the degree of freedom and tolerance that exited in Sudan compared to the rest of the Middle Eastern countries. Sudan in the 1980s is making records in Africa and the Middle East as the only country managed peacefully to change regime and hold free and fair elections ended up with establishing one of the most democratic state in the region.

No doubts before they are in power there were number of mounting evidences suggesting that NIF ideology is undemocratic and authoritarian in nature their political behavior specially their relation with Numire dictatorial regime (1977-1985) and continuous use of violence in the students union elections. However, during the democratic period from 1985 to 1989 freedom of expression meant for them a means to achieve an end. The tolerance of the democratic system at the time naively let them participate in a democratic process that they are clearly not believe in and they are abusing it and use it as platform to conspire against the Sudanese nation. The 1933 historical momentum was revisited once again in Sudan by letting the creation of our own version of Third Reich to take place from within.

Arendt (1966) noted that "….totalitarianism is never content to rule by external means, namely, through the state and a machinery of violence; thanks to its peculiar ideology and the role assigned to it in this apparatus of coercion, totalitarianism has discovered a means of dominating and terrorizing human beings from within".

A catalogue of crisis followed Ingaz military coup including imposing a single party state and waging a holly war in the South with a disastrous human suffering where 2 millions people died and more than 4 million internally displaced, in their efforts to consolidate power the regime sacked more than 200,000 civil servants and nearly 11,000 army officers, thousands of people were arrested tortured during the regime 17 years rein of terror. Echoing Bob Marley’s song “War” the country literary becomes a war zone; war in the east; war in the west and the south. Mass exodus of millions of Sudanese sought asylum in faraway places: Canada, Australia, America, Europe and even Israel. Humans Rights organization reported unprecedented scale of torture and violations of human rights.

Thanks to the Ingaz Sudan has become in the top 10 of many lists name few the “Failing States List”, “The Corruption List”, “Aids in the middle east List”, “Human rights violation list” and then top it up with genocide or gross human violation where more than 200 thousand people died in just three years in Darfur.

After the signing of the CPA on Janury/2005 and the adoption of the Interim constitution, then the establishment of Government of National Unity, human rights were clearly stated and accepted by the parties to the agreement many people felt optimistic the totalitarian tendency of the NCP (National Congress Party) will be diluted or deconstructed. But events proved them (till now) wrong and the NCP still find it hard to change his old ways, although NCP voluntary signed an agreement and constitution preserving the democratic right of the people including the right to protest, the party overtly violated the CPA, the constitution and recent events of last weeks proved how intransigents some elements in the NCP still loyal to their totalitarian credentials specially when dealing with issues related to human rights and democracy.

UN Security Council unknowingly welcomed Sudan on the 6 February 1956 as a new member to the UN. However the world starts to take note of what have become of that seemingly innocent state by the end of 20th century and early 21st century. Then on the 11/ June/2004 the Security Council issued it’s first resolution number1547 decided to establish the United Nations Advance Mission in Sudan (UNAMIS) in preparation for one of the biggest mission in the history of the organization to oversee the implementation of the CPA between the SPLM and the GoS. Since then Sudan received 16 UN Security Council resolutions, most of them were related to the conflict in the South and Darfur. According to the SCP (Sudan Communist Party) Secretary General he noted in somber and resigning mode that the Ingaz regime successfully managed in few numbers of years to make the whole world wondering about us and (they did really make us all feel ashamed to be Sudanese).

* Ahmed Elzobier is is Director of Communications and Media at Darfur Centre for Human Rights and Development. He can be reached at ahmed.elzobir@gmail.com.


- Arendt, The Origins of Totalitarianism (1958, new ed. 1966); C. J.
- Jeane Kirkpatrick, Dictatorships and Double Standards: Rationalism and reason in politics (1982)
- http://www.bartleby.com/65/to/totalita.html

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