Home | News    Sunday 31 March 2013

Khartoum youth activist detained incommunicado

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March 28, 2013 (KHARTOUM) – Human rights groups have expressed concerns for the safety of Sudanese youth activist Hatim Ali Abdalla, who has been detained without access to his family or lawyers since 24 March after attending a protest in Khartoum.

Abdalla was among about 50 people who took part in a peaceful demonstration at the Khartoum Bahri Teaching Hospital on 23 March organised after a recent government decree ordering the closure of several public hospitals.

Girifna says the protesters were responding to a court’s decision ordering the selling of the hospital’s emergency equipment by public auction to pay its debts to a private company providing patient services. It’s understood the ministry of health had refused to pay the hospital’s debt.

Rights groups say Abdalla was arrested by agents from Sudan’s National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS) at the demonstration and taken to Bahri police station, where he was reportedly subjected to beatings.

He was released in the early hours of 24 March and ordered to return later the same day to the main NISS office in Bahri.

According to the African Centre for Justice and Peace Studies (ACJPS), when Abdalla reported to the NISS as instructed he was detained and has not been seen since.

ACJPS said when his family requested to visit him, they were reportedly told by the NISS to return in 14 days. The nature of the criminal charges against him, if any, and his exact whereabouts remain unknown.

Amnesty International (AI) said in a statement that it considers Abdalla, an engineering graduate of Khartoum University, a prisoner of conscience, held solely for the peaceful expression of his views. It says he remains at serious risk of torture and other ill-treatment.

According to the human rights organisation, Abdalla’s 24 March detention marks the fifth time he has been detained for his participation in peaceful protests.

It has called on Sudanese authorities to release the 24-year-old “immediately and unconditionally”, urging the government provide him with access to a lawyer and his family.

Abdalla was among four people summonsed and interrogated by the NISS over their role in the protests, including the spokesperson for Sudanese youth movement Sudan Change Now, Khalid Omer Yousif.

He told AJPSC that like Abdalla he was released and ordered to report back to the NISS office on the morning of 24 March, where he waited until 5pm without being interviewed.

He was subsequently ordered to report back to the NISS office on the 25 and 26 March, after which he was told that the investigation against him had been concluded.

ACTIVISTS TARGETED

The ACJPS has condemned the harassment and arrest of peaceful activists, saying the latest case “underscores the rapidly deteriorating space for freedom of expression, association and assembly in Sudan”.

Human rights groups say Sudanese authorities have taken increasingly harsh measures to restrict freedom of expression following a wave of anti-government protests that broke out across the country between June-August 2012.

ACJPS says it documented over 350 arbitrary arrests of social activists, as well as the widespread use of torture and incommunicado detention by the NISS within a six week period between June and July 2012.

According to testimonies obtained by AI, the NSS tortured and otherwise ill-treated many of the detainees by kicking them; beating them with sticks, rubber hoses and fists; making them stand in scorching heat for days at a time; depriving them of food, water and sleep; and forcing them to adopt stress positions.

It says women detainees were subjected to sexual violence in the form of “virginity tests” akin to rape. In November 2012, NSS agents threw acid on seven high school students from South Darfur while in detention, causing severe burns.

ACJPS says that although the nationwide protests dissipated quickly due to the crackdown by authorities, several smaller scale demonstrations held at Sudan’s universities over other less controversial issues, such as tuition fees, were met with excessive use of force by the police and NISS.

In one serious case documented by ACJPS in December 2012, four students were found dead in an irrigation channel on the campus of Al Jazeera University. The incident followed protests over the university’s failure to comply with a 2006 presidential decree waiving university fees for Darfuri students.

(ST)

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  • 31 March 2013 13:40, by Hamra

    Its the mark of a civilised society that people who peacefully stand up for the benefit of their community are valued and respected (even when you disagree with them). This young man could have ignored the hospital’s problems. But he chose to highlight the issue. If its peaceful then ok I hope that the Sudan govet can learn the value of engaging with the opposition so the country can move forward

    repondre message

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