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What about Sudan’s Guantanamo in Darfur?

Is there an end to the Guantanamo of the National Congress Party in Darfur?!

By Mahmoud A. Suleiman

May 5, 2008 — At last, Sami al-Hajj, the Sudanese national and a photographer for Al-Jazeera television channel, the prisoner of room no. 345, is out of the infamous US Guantanamo Bay jail after spending six arduous years and arriving on an American airplane to Khartoum. The Sudanese public rejoiced for the event and Joy spread throughout the country and the national capital Khartoum, understandably. The breaking news of home coming of fellow Sudanese citizen after his ordeal in the disreputable Guantanamo Bay in Cuba, have brought joyfulness to the entire Sudanese public all around the globe. The News Media reports indicated that the President of the Republic Field Marshal Omer Hassan Ahmed Al-Bashir visited Sami al-Hajj and met his family for congratulations. The Darfur IDPs, refugees, the Diaspora and the rest of the population of Darfur have similarly shared the sentiments of their fellow citizens though they wondered and asked when will the people of Darfur come out of the National Congress Party (NCP/NIF) regime’s “Guantanamo” in the Sudan?! Unlike his counterpart Abraham Lincoln (12 February 1809 – 15 April 1865) the 16th President of the United States who was reported to have said: “Those who deny freedom to others deserve it not for themselves; and, under a just God, can not long retain it!” Omer Hassan Ahmed Al-Bashir has neither thought nor felt at any time five years on that the people of Darfur deserve freedom. It is very true that those who do not recognize the freedom of others do not deserve the blessing of liberty.

The unmatched Sudanese journalist and writer Sarah Issa says “yes the Sudanese people stood up in support of the cause of Sami Al-Hajj, but we have witnessed and seen security and intelligence elements who founded the ghost houses in the Sudan, robbed freedom of speech and spread the alien culture of hatred among the people of Sudan, ironically rushed to the event site to receive Sami al-Hajj the prisoner of conscience and freedom of speech. Sadly, those scum, unashamed as they were, have never shown any compassion towards the Sudanese people in adversity that include the bereaved, widows, orphans, the elderly and the infirm in the besieged IDPs and refugee camps in Darfur.. The National Congress Party (NCP) regime’s human rights record is thought by Amnesty International UK as extremely poor. The Sudanese security forces are largely autonomous and can act arbitrarily. Those detained by the security forces can face detention in unofficial detention centres (Ghost Houses) where some are tortured, although this practice has reportedly decreased in recent years. According to credible reports arbitrary detention, mistreatment and torture of detainees and many people are believed to have been summarily executed by the army. The NIF lead Military Junta regime has transformed our country into a greater Guantanamo where innocent civilians are incarcerated or placed in indefinite incommunicado detention.

Death sentences continue to be carried out without trial by the National Congress Party war planes and helicopter gunships against the innocent civilian population in Darfur indiscriminately on daily basis. The last, not the least assault was on the 1st May 2008 when a government of Sudan aircraft bombarded the village of Nourbay in Um Sidir North Darfur for more than three hours, killing 9 people including a child and an elderly man. It is incumbent upon those who rejoiced the visit of President al-Bashir to celebrate the release of Sami al-Hajj from Guantanamo Bay jail to remind the Government of Sudan (GOS) to follow the U.S. example and give freedom to the Sudanese public. Sami al-Hajj’s liberation from the American jail should be the starting point towards the establishment of freedom, rule of law, respect of human rights, sustainable peace for Darfur, democratic transformation and peaceful coexistence in Sudan. It is also a duty of the regime currently in power to feel for a moment about the ordeal of the Sudanese citizens in Darfur who have been deprived of their homes, personal possessions, security, basic services, peaceful sleep and the blessing of stability and reunification with their loved ones.

In the wake of the release of Sami al-Hajj from the US custody, observers wonder whether the National Islamic Front (NIF/NCP) regime will set free the people of Sudan from the captivity in the various quasi-Guantanamo jailhouses in Kobar, Shala, Nyala, Dabkar, Port Sudan, to name a few notorious, and let alone the Ghost Houses which were designed by the current Presidential assistant and former Director of National Intelligence and security service Nafie Ali Nafie who has passed them over to Salah Abdallah Abu Digin (AKA Salah Gosh) the head of Sudan’s National Security and Intelligence Service? Another, but timely Sixty Four Dollar Question ($64 question) awaits for an answer!

Dr. Mahmoud A. Suleiman is the Deputy Chairman of the General Congress for Justice and Equality Movement (JEM). He can be reached at mahmoud.abaker@gmail.com

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