Home | Comment & Analysis    Tuesday 14 March 2017

Sudan: Recent release of political prisoners shouldn’t fool anyone

separation
increase
decrease
separation
separation

By Jehanne Henry

Last week, Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir released 193 Darfuri rebel fighters from prison, some of whom had been there for nine years. He also waived the death penalty against 66 others. Days earlier, a Khartoum court released three civil society activists after ten months in detention.

These developments, lauded by onlookers, burnish Sudan’s image at a time when al-Bashir – wanted by the International Criminal Court for alleged atrocities in Darfur – has been improving diplomatic alliances with the Gulf, Europe, and the US. In January, the US eased economic sanctions against Sudan, and the EU has earmarked major funds to Sudan for migration control.

But these prisoner releases are a standard piece in al-Bashir’s political playbook and do not signal real change to Sudan’s abysmal rights record. A deeper look shows that Sudan’s sprawling National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS) detains activists for extended periods, often accusing them of espionage and other crimes that are punishable by death to intimidate and silence them. NISS has also targeted female activists with sexual violence and reputation smearing.

Human rights defender Dr Mudawi Ibrahim Adam has been in prison since December 7. He has yet to be charged. He went on hunger strike twice to protest the lack of charges. His driver and several associates, including Darfuri activist Hafiz Idris, were also detained. Idris, who hails from a sprawling displaced person’s camp in South Darfur, also remains in detention without charge, and credible sources report he was badly beaten.

Other, lesser-known activists are also locked up – not just in official prisons, but in unmarked buildings, offices, and private houses – today’s version of the eponymous 1990s “ghost houses” where torture and ill-treatment were commonplace. A former detainee and member of the opposition Sudanese Congress Party, who was held for 50 days after being picked up during the November 2016 crackdown on “civil disobedience”, was so badly beaten by security agents that he needed surgery. He told me that he saw other detainees who were beaten and even electrocuted in custody.

The reason for these violent, repressive tactics has always been clear to those detained. One opposition leader, a father of two who was held for 55 days in last November’s crackdown, explained to me, “It is to kill our will for change.” Sudan has not succeeded in this, judging by the proliferation of protest movements. Sadly, the government is still trying.

The author is a senior researcher in Human Rights Watch’s Africa division



The views expressed in the 'Comment and Analysis' section are solely the opinions of the writers. The veracity of any claims made are the responsibility of the author not Sudan Tribune.

If you want to submit an opinion piece or an analysis please email it to comment@sudantribune.com

Sudan Tribune reserves the right to edit articles before publication. Please include your full name, relevant personal information and political affiliations.
Comments on the Sudan Tribune website must abide by the following rules. Contravention of these rules will lead to the user losing their Sudan Tribune account with immediate effect.

- No inciting violence
- No inappropriate or offensive language
- No racism, tribalism or sectarianism
- No inappropriate or derogatory remarks
- No deviation from the topic of the article
- No advertising, spamming or links
- No incomprehensible comments

Due to the unprecedented amount of racist and offensive language on the site, Sudan Tribune tries to vet all comments on the site.

There is now also a limit of 400 words per comment. If you want to express yourself in more detail than this allows, please e-mail your comment as an article to comment@sudantribune.com

Kind regards,

The Sudan Tribune editorial team.

Comment on this article



The following ads are provided by Google. SudanTribune has no authority on it.


Sudan Tribune

Promote your Page too

Latest Comments & Analysis


South Sudan famine is a wake-up call to revive dead peace deal 2017-03-20 15:57:01 By Brian Adeba News that a famine has been declared in South Sudan is yet another stark reminder of the ever evolving nature of war-induced fragility in Africa’s newest country. As the world (...)

Africa’s next level of economic transformation 2017-03-20 05:57:00 By Jim Yong Kim The G20 finance ministers met last week in Germany to discuss critical challenges facing the global economy, from climate change to migration to humanitarian emergencies like the (...)

Mistake any armed opposition must not do 2017-03-20 05:51:57 By James Nguen South Sudan has been at war by itself since 15 of December 2013. This internal strife sent the new country to a new low and finally to a failed state status by all accounts. This (...)


MORE






Latest Press Releases


Statement by South Sudanese Communist Party on the National Dialoguel 2017-03-22 05:44:42 The Communist Party of South Sudan On the Initiative of the National Dialogue The initiative taken by the President of the Republic of South Sudan declaring a need for a national dialogue is an (...)

An Appeal to President of the Republic of South Sudan 2017-03-15 07:22:45 Dear. Mr. President, I write to appeal to you for the release of political detainees now in the custody of the National Security Service at Jebel and other detention facilities. In doing this, I (...)

Militias of Bashir’s Regime and the Proxy War (1) 2017-02-08 21:49:09 Sudan Democracy First Group Militias of Bashir’s Regime and the Proxy War (1) War in the Blue Nile: Militias in the hunt of refugees and displaced population Introduction Throughout its rule, (...)


MORE

Copyright © 2003-2017 SudanTribune - All rights reserved.