Home | News    Friday 29 July 2005

Health of Sudan opposition hunger strikers worsens: lawyer

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KHARTOUM, July 29 (AFP) — The health of dozens of jailed members from Sudan’s Islamist opposition Popular Congress party who have been on hunger strike for the past nine days is worsening, a lawyer said on Friday.

"All the 41 detainees, most of them from the Popular Congress and from Darfur, have been continuing the hunger strike for nine days now and, until now, the government authorities have not taken any action for resolving their case," lawyer Kamal Omar told AFP.

Almost 50 jailed members of the Popular Congress, whose leader Hassan al-Turabi was freed from prison on June 30, had been expected to be released following the lifting of a state of emergency earlier this month.

However the judiciary has since made clear that their cases are merely under review.

Omar said he and his fellow defence lawyers had contacted the attorney general and demanded that the detainees, "who have been arrested without charge", should be released forthwith.

"We told the attorney general that there was no legal justification for the detention of our clients and (they) should therefore either be released or taken to court," said Omar.

"The health conditions of the detainees are deteriorating to an extent that until yesterday (Thursday) 16 of them were taken to hospital, given medicinal drips and taken back to their detention in Khartoum North’s Kober Prison," the defence lawyer said.

"We told the attorney general that he and other concerned officials would be responsible for what would happen to the detainees as a result of the hunger strike," Omar said.

He said the defence lawyers had also raised the matter with UN special envoy Jan Pronk as well as international human rights organisations, including Amnesty International.

"They are all political detainees as they have been arrested for political reasons from their residences in Khartoum and not from the battleground in Darfur," said the lawyer, referring to the troubled province in Sudan’s west.

"For this reason, they should have been released upon lifting the state of emergency as promised by the President."

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