By Namaa Faisal AL Mahdi
March 22, 2012 (LONDON) - At around midday of last Tuesday, the Sudanese cyberspace screeched with pain and grief- to the shocking news of the sudden death of Sudanese peoples’ poet Mohammed Hassan Salim Humeed. The people’s overwhelming expression of shock and grief was met with a deafening State television and State radio news silence, the poet’s funeral that evening was none the less attended by thousands upon thousands of mourners who lined the streets leading to his burial grounds and covered the landscape chanting his famous words “Freedom, Peace, Freedom” whilst his body was being laid in its final resting place.
The people’s poet who was denied a well deserved State funeral was buried honourably by the people he loved and who loved him back. His death -the result of inter-city road accident makes him yet another victim of one of the National Congress Party’s badly constructed and planned inter-city roads, Tayar al Shamal.
Newspaper bulletins covering deadly inter and intra-city road accidents harvesting the lives of many have almost become a daily feature.
Almost a month ago, the death of Sudan’s most famous singer Mohammed Osman Wardi was met with similar, cyber space and people’s grief and equal State media and government’s silence.
The National Congress Party government is not only –totally- disconnected with the peoples’ grief and anguish, they are also in denial of their primary role as a- government –whose main responsibility is to provide rights to the people of Sudan.
Since their coming to power in a coup which toppled a people’s elected government in 1989, human rights violations have become the norm, forced army subscription of youth and children as well as running a very oppressive National Intelligence and Security Service, renowned for their abduction and arbitrary imprisonment and torture of anyone who opposes them. Many of these incidents of grave human rights violations went unreported because of fear and or as a result of tight State control of the media and people’s lack of awareness of their basic rights.
Since 1989 the State has almost privatised all public services including basic health services and the police, in 2006 I was charged 7 Sudanese Ginah to be issued a personal loss police report. Indeed cash payment windows exist in almost every government building which includes hospitals where citizens have to pay a fee just to enter through the main gates.
The recent emergence of alternative media news sites such as Sudaneseonline, Hurriyat and Alrakoba as well as facebook and twitter have been very effective in bringing out some of these seemingly endless human rights violations committed by the government and its officials against the people of Sudan -to national as well as international audiences. Human Rights Watch report of 2012 reported that Sudan’s rights records have deteriorated with the renewed conflict in mid 2011- this wave of human rights violations is continuing despite President Omar Bashir’s promise on the Sudan Independence Day celebration speech to uphold human rights.
Since the beginning of 2012 there has been a stream of reports of injuries and deaths from the war zone of Southern Kordofan State as a result of innocent civilian targeting by the Sudanese Armed Forces, most probably - to force out rebel Sudanese Peoples Liberation Army members out of their villages, this- as well as the government’s stand off against allowing international humanitarian aid into the conflict ravaged region, could result in a compounded case of human rights violations against the government. Excessive State police, militia and army use of force to oppress peaceful protests in Nyala (24th, 25th and 26th of January 2012) left an 18 year old student dead, 33 seriously injured and many more students and youths detained in prisons and or their whereabouts unknown.
There were also Arbitrary State arrests, detentions and psychological torture of youth group members Girifna and Youth for Change on the 25th January. State police raids, abduction and detention of hoards of students- who were arrested from within the university buildings- at Omdurman Al Islamiya University, Khartoum State on the 26th of January, at Imam el Mahdi University, at White Nile State on the 7th February and an early before dawn raid and mass arrests of students from Khartoum University, Khartoum State on the 17th February.
On the 5th March State community police shot in cold blood el Deem resident Ms Awodiya Ajabana, the case of cold blooded murder went on to provoke mass media and public outrage.
Since the beginning of the year, four newspapers have been forced to shut down; others such as AL Median have had their daily printed issues confiscated fresh off the print. Al Tayar newspaper was allowed to resume printing following a promise to fire a leading staff member; this was later revoked for an unexplained reason, whilst Alwan was also allowed to resume with the complete ban of two Journalists Isam Ibraim and Mojahid Abdalla.
The government by law collects taxes and a 10% VAT on refined goods and services as well as taxes on communication and the internet but does not, on the other hand, provide tax paid public services, with an allocated annual governmental budget of less than 1.2% for all of education, health and income generating activities such as farming and enterprise- this is hardly surprising.
The bulk of governmental services (health, education, food, clean water, protection, income and shelter) to the lowest income groups which make up 46.5% of the Sudan’s population, according to UNDP 2010 figures- are provided by the International and national NGOs.
The NGOs are indeed doing the bulk of the government’s work; therefore if it suddenly disappears no one in their right mind will miss it and its oppressive police, security and army.
The government’s only public role, apart from oppressing the people - seems to be imposing excessive taxes, VAT and to operate the endless cycle of civil of wars. I assume if the rebel movements now suddenly put down their guns and stopped fighting the government will have nothing to do and no reason to exist.
On the 3rd of February, on a nationally televised interview- the President of the Republic of Sudan announced -without any hesitation, that he and his administration, set up a Wide Based Government- formed in collation and participation of over 14 non-elected political parties and movements to gain –peoples’ acceptance!
I assumed that the government’s indicator of the level of people’s acceptance would have been result of the 2010 Sudan’s presidential and parliamentary elections, held from 11th April to 15th of April where Bashir’s National Congress Party was declared the winner by receiving 68.24% of the votes.
This is a clear, outright- declaration by the President of the country that his government lacks- Peoples’ Acceptance.
I assumed that the government’s indicator of the level of people’s acceptance would have been results of the 2010 Sudan’s presidential and parliamentary elections, held from 11th April to 15th of April where Bashir’s National Congress Party was declared the winner by receiving 68.24% of the peoples’ votes. I assumed the elections results were a very important indicator of peoples’ acceptance and or lack of- in this case obviously not!
In this case- the elections results mean Nothing -otherwise why would the President dissolve an “elected” government to bring in 14 non elected political parties and to create one of Sudan’s largest governments since independence?
The secession and separation of South Sudan and its representatives cannot be used to justify the size and the content of the current Sudan’s government- with a “64%” majority win; one would expect the NCP to have sufficient people elected members of Majalas to fill the 27% gap created by the withdrawal of Southern Sudan’s SPLM party.
Thus, I pose the question- what is the point of this National Congress Party led Government of Sudan??
The writer is a London-based Sudanese activist. She can be reached at email@example.com