Update on Political Detainees In First Month of Sudan Revolts
On Saturday 16/6/2012 at around 6 p.m. a protest was launched from the female dorms at the University of Khartoum (UoK); where female students protested against the staggering increase in the prices of meals and transportation.
The girls’ protest reached the male dorms and the male students joined forces with them. The protest continued and the students marched until they reached Al-Gamhouria street where they were met with police forces who dispersed them. After the female students returned to the dorms, they took to the streets once again.
On Sunday 17/6/2012 the students of the University of Khartoum gathered on campus and speeches were held announcing the details of the previous night when the police raided the female dorms. This coincided with the police raiding the dorms for the second day in a row and beating the female students with batons. As soon as news broke out in campus, a large number of students gathered inside the university’s “main street” and chanted in unison.
For the next few days, UoK students and students from other universities organized daily protests calling for regime-change. On Friday June 22 , there were protests in many neighborhoods in Khartoum state and other states in Sudan.
The protest movement was spreading to the Sudanese streets, but the security forces were adamant to put a stop to this. This is when a wave of unprecedented mass arrests began. As of this week, activists in Sudan estimate the number of political detainees to be over 2,000. The numbers of detainees soar on Fridays as protesters are arrested en masse during and after protests.
Normally, a protester with no political affiliation is released a few hours later. In some cases, released protesters have cases against them and end up going to courts where they are sentenced to lashing or paying a fine. However, masses of youth , civil society and political activists were arrested in recent weeks by National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS).
They are kept at NISS offices in different parts of Khartoum state or in NISS offices in Sennar, Gedarif and El-Obeid. Others were transferred to prisons. Girifna has 4 confirmed transfers to Kober, but we are estimating many more to be kept there for long-term detention.
Unfortunately, it was very difficult to keep track of arrests of protesters who are not affiliated with a political party, youth movements or student unions, so their arrests are underreported unless Girifna is contacted through social media websites or their names are published when they are in need of lawyers to work on their court cases.
Because of the above-mentioned limitation, we try to focus on detainees who are held by NISS and do not have access to legal assistance. Since NISS does not let detainees access lawyers, we collect information about them, reach out to families and assist in campaigns organized by family members.
When it comes to detaining activists, the security apparatus does not differentiate between males and females. The Girifna movement for example has a number of detainees including Rashaida Shams Al-Deen and Mai Shutta.
This week, Shams Al-Deen enters his third week in the custody of NISS without seeing her family once. Equally important, Mohamed Osman and Mawahib Majzoub, who are husband and wife and have children were taken from their house on Saturday 23 June 2012.
On another note, it is difficult to say that youth and student activists are the only target in this wave of arrests. Although the mobilizers behind the University of Khartoum protests were heavily targeted, we have recorded the arrest of older activists and politicians. From universities, students who are members of the Democratic Front, which is a student union affiliated with the Sudanese Communist Party, were heavily targeted.
Some examples of older activists and politicians being targeted include Kamal Idris who was a presidential candidate in the 2010 elections; Mohamed Al-Doma who is the chairman of Darfur Bar Association and is a politician; and Nahid Jabrallah who is an activist in the field of women’s rights. On Saturday night, the secretary-general of the Popular Congress Party and a well-known human rights lawyer, Kamal Omer, was taken from his house at midnight.
The aim of this report is to highlight some trends witnessed during the arrest campaign by the security organ since mid-June 2012. We have observed a number of trends such as intimidation and arrest of family members and long-term detention of female activists. Some trends are more obvious now due to the large scale of protests, some trends such as long-term detention of female activists are new and the activist community in Sudan has yet to address it.
We also feature case-studies to emphasize the fact that the arrests have included people from different walks of life. Nazim Siraj, one of the detainees of NISS is a humanitarian and does not have political activities, while Usama Mohamed is a social media activist. Siraj was released after days in the custody of NISS while Mohamed was transferred to Kober. This brings to light the fact that community organizers (Siraj organized silent protests for cancer patients) and social media activists are as targeted as political party members for different reasons.
1. Intimidation and arrest of family members
Omar Kamal Omar was kidnapped on 23 June by NISS. He has no political activities, but is the son of Kamal Omar, a leading human rights lawyer and opposition politician.
Although Kamal Omar is not in hiding , his son was still kidnapped to send a strong message of threat. In a phone interview, he said that the security agents did not even enter the house, they arrested his son from in front of their house.
This week, the NISS has continued to intimidate and in some cases, arrest the family members of activists.
When about 25 NISS officers raided the house of Girifna member, Rudwan Dawood. They arrested his ailing father, Yagoub Dawood and his brother, Sufyan Dawood. They have yet to be released.
S.O, an activist with the Girifna member was home, but managed to escape into a neighbor’s house when 40 NISS officers raided his house.
S.O, who has not being able to stay home for days, was just visiting his family when the raid happened. He told Girifna that the NISS arrested his two uncles and brothers when they could not arrest him.
“They have no political activities,” he added.
In Kassala, Mohamed Al-Kanari was forced to hand himself in a few days ago after NISS kidnapped his father and held him hostage.
2. Long-term detention for women activists
In Sudan, women activists were always at risk of arrest by police or NISS forces, however they were always spared long-term detention. Sudan is a conservative society and as a movement, we always believed that NISS could not face the family and societal pressure for keeping women in their custody for more than two or three days.
For weeks, we have noticed that female activists arrested during the protests or for activism-related work are kept for more than just a few days and this is scaring away many women.
On Friday 22 June, Mawaheb Majzoub, an activist with the Democratic Unionist Party, was arrested from her home by NISS agents and has yet to be released. A source in the party said that they believe that she might have been taken to Omdurman Women Prison.
On the night of Saturday 23 June, Girifna member Rashaida Shams Al-Deen left her house with her sister. They took the same taxi and Rashaida got off first to go to a meeting or event according to her sister. She was last seen in the Amarat area. Two days later, a source told her family and Girifna that she is at the NISS building in Omdurman.
She has not yet been released and her two-week-long detention is shocking to many.
On Sunday July 1, Mai Shutta, a long-time Girifna member was arrested from her home in Omdurman at midnight by NISS. Shutta was beaten during the June 29 protest in Wad-Nobawi and her arm was broken as a result. A friend said that she was sure that they will arrest her because they couldn’t arrest her on June 29.
There is also speculation that NISS managed to find Shutta’s whereabouts because she visited the hospital after the protest. Many hospitals, especially governmental ones, have to report to NISS if a protester comes to the hospital seeking medical care.
Upon arrival, patients are asked for their personal information including their residence and this could be how they managed to get a hold of Shutta.
Girifna is very concerned about Shatta, because she never received proper treatment for her broken arm, and she has other health problems.
3. Raiding homes and offices and arresting activists
On June 20, Mohamed Hassan Alim, (known as Boshi), a member of the Baath party and a Girifna activist was kidnapped from his house in Haj-Yousif. His mother who tried resisting the arrest with him was beaten and hospitalized as a result. The arrest of Boshi from his house unleashed a wave of arrests of activists from their houses and offices. We list a number of examples.
On Friday, June 22, NISS agents barged into the house of Hatim Shanab, an activist in the group, Youth for Change. He told Girifna that two trucks were involved in the raid and he was blind-folded with a piece of black cloth and his hands were shackled. He was taken to an unknown destination where he was whipped and beaten for two days. Then, he was taken to Kober and placed in solitary confinement then in a shared cell.
On Sunday, June 22, Faisal Shabu, an activist, was taken from his house by NISS agents. After days at NISS offices, he is now kept in Kober prison.
A Girifna member who wishes to remain anonymous said that NISS agents came to his office, but his colleagues helped him escape arrest.
Another Girifna activist, Bakry Al-Ajami was taken from his house in Omdurman by NISS agents this week.
Many other Girifna and non-Girifna activists are not staying home because they fear arrest and their homes are watched,
On Tuesday 26 June, the house of Maha El-Sanosi was raided by 15 NISS agents, at least two were armed. The agents terrorized her family and looked through her stuff. Two laptops , two cameras and her phone were confiscated before she was taken by NISS into their custody.
On July 1, Nemat Adam Jamaa, a member of Sudan People’s Liberation Movement -North Sudan faction (SPLM-N) was kidnapped from her house in Kosti in White Nile state, her family still haven’t heard from her.
In the morning of Tuesday 3 July, Nahid Jabrallah’s (she works for a women’s rights NGO called SEEMA) office was raided and NISS office took her into their custody. Jabrallah works in the same organization as Faisal Shabu. In the evening of the same day, Rudwan Dawood, a Girifna activist was taken from his house following a protest he helped organize in his neighborhood, Haj-Yousif. Dawood’s brother and father were taken with him. Also, a member of the Sudanese Congress Party, an opposition party, Al-Tayeb Mahdi, was taken from his office in Haj Yousif.
So far, the homes of Girifna activists Mai Shutta, Rudwan Dawood and Bakry Al-Ajami were raided among others.
4. Regular summoning
In some cases, activists are not arrested , but are asked to report to NISS on a regular basis. When they arrive at NISS, they are left to wait in the reception or on the roof under the burning sun for hours at a time. Many have said that this is not different from arrest and in general, this method is widely used now to obstruct the work of activists.
For days, Najla Seed-Ahmed, a citizen video journalist was summoned by NISS and kept for long hours. On Saturday and Sunday of June 23 and 24, Seed-Ahmed was hospitalized after she became very sick and her blood pressure plummeted while in detention.
“They want to obstruct my work and prevent me from taking videos,” she said to Girinfa.
Seed-Ahmed is a long-time Girifna member and is widely known for documenting with victims of torture and documenting political events and protests. Over the last three years, she recorded more than 2,000 videos and as a result, her house was raided, her belongings confiscated and she was detained many times.
Maha El-Sanosi, a blogger, activist and Girifna member, was also summoned by NISS for three days in a row, June 26, 27 and 28. In total, she was interrogated for at least 20 hours and made to wait long hours without access to food or drink.
Although he was released on July 3, Hatim Shanab from the youth movement, Youth for Change-Sharara, continues to report to NISS. He told Girifna that he is made to face a wall for long hours.
5. Intimidation to stop political activities
Former detainees have said that they are made to sign documents at NISS stating they will stop any political activities.
Hatim Shanab who was released a few days ago from NISS custody said that he was made to sign this document and told that if he returns to activism, he will be tried for “crimes against the state”.
Another detainee affiliated with Girifna released recently told Girifna that she was made to sign a document stating that she will not do any Girifna-related work.
Along the same line, one of the protestors arrested last month was released on bail a few hours after his arrest. He was taken to court and sentenced to lashing and a hefty fine. In addition, he was given a suspended sentence of 3 months meaning that if he is arrested in activism-related work or in a protest, he will serve time.
On Thursday June 20, Nazim Siraj planned a silent protest in front of Al-Amal tower to protest against lack of medicine for cancer children. This isn’t the first time he planned such an event, it was the second one in less than a month. The first silent protest was successful and managed to attract a large number of supporters.
After they arrived there, NISS officers came and asked them to cease their silent protest.
Ahmed Farooq was taking photos with his phone, the officers asked him to stop and then took Nazim Siraj with them, the protesters refused to move unless the NISS releases Nazim, and under pressure, the NISS released him.
After this incident Nazim dealt with some management issues, and then went with some of his friends to Altaif Club, stayed around for a while and then went home.
The next day, on Friday June 29, the group carried on with business as usual. On Saturday, the group met at Al-taif club, 30 minutes later, Ahmed Farooq walked in and told Nazim that some people from the NISS want to talk to him outside, so he went out and ended up being arrested by them.
His friend said that Nazim called him and asked him to bring some papers from home so he went over to the family house of Nazim’s wife where she was staying; he took her to their apartment and got the things he asked for.
Some of Nazim’s friends and volunteers worked in his group were planning to protest on July 1, calling for his release, but according to his friends some other “groups” tried to use this event for its own benefit, so they decided to cancel the event. Some of Nazim’s friends strongly disagreed with this decision. According to his friend, when he went to Al-Hawdeth Street where the protest was planned and saw NISS vehicles, he was sure they made the right decision, because NISS were ready to face them.
Nazim’s family was assured that he will be released on July 2 around “mogreb”, but he wasn’t. According to one of his friends, Nazim was asked to sign a pledge that he will never organize such events in the future, but he refused to do so. As a result, the NISS didn’t keep their promise of releasing Nazim. But his family was promised that he would be released very soon.
Nazim is known in Khartoum for doing charity work. He works with a group of volunteers in helping children with cancer get the necessary help and medications.
(This link will give you some background about Nazim’s work:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_HJMYyaWE54)
Mohammed Salah Mohammed Abdul Rahman, a UoK Student was arrested with his friend Bakri Nyala (also from the University of Khartoum) on June 24, 2012.
A group of NISS officers attacked them while they were having dinner at Dodi restaurant, in Riyadh, a neighborhood in Khartoum.
Eye witnesses say that they were beaten violently and forced into a vehicle. Mohammed’s family have confirmed that he was initially held at NISS in Bahri. They were allowed to leave him clean clothes. His family were told that he cannot have access to the books although his university exams are in a few weeks. They have so far not been able to see him. Another student (who asked to remain anonymous) who was held at the same facility in Bahari and was recently released confirmed that they were being tortured because she saw electricity cords being entered into their rooms.
On July 5, a trusted source told girifna that Mohammed and other students from the UoK were transferred to Kober prison.
Salah’s mother told Girifna that many of his friends were released (including Bakri Nyala, who was arrested with him) and she is worried about him. Salah missed a deadline to submit a project because prison guards did not allow his family to bring him books to study and complete his school work.
The Female Activist
On July 2, Mai Shutta, a long-time Girifna activist was arrested in front of her house. Friends of Shutta who are also Girifna members said that they saw NISS truck pull up to her house as they were walking away.
“After exactly seven minutes, she called and said that NISS agents came to her house and asked us to come back, we called her back after a few moments and her phone was off,” said one of her friends.
Her sister confirmed the arrest and said that her mother accompanied her, but was separated from her afterwards. The family does not know Shutta’s location right now.
Mai Shutta is a human rights activist who has worked with different organizations on non-violence and peace-building.
On June 26, Shutta was walking not far from her home after receiving a phone call from a friend asking her to come over when a motorbike driver drove up behind her and hit her from the side.
Her arm was partly broken as a result, and she could not get a good look at the driver. She told her colleagues that she believes that this is a warning from security agents as she has been a victim of a number of accidents masterminded by security beforehand.
On Friday June 29, during one of the protests, she was seen carrying a camera and was beaten up by police officers. As a result, her arm was completely broken and she had difficulty receiving healthcare that day. She has asthma, high blood pressure and a back problem and we particularly worried about her health during detention.
She is not the first Girifna member to be arrested in recent weeks and we have recognized that NISS is exceptionally targeting Girifna members.
Faisal Shabu was taken by NISS officers from his office in the afternoon on 24 June 2012. A long-term term activist, Shabu works at an organization that provides help and rehabilitation to victims of violence and sexual assault.
He lives in Omdurman and is a single father of three, as his wife passed away from cancer a few years ago. Years ago, Shabu was detained by security and was tortured in ghost houses.
A source told Girifna that he is now in Kober and we are worried that he will serve a long sentence.
The Minority Activist
Khaled Bahr, a member of the executive committee of the Democratic New Forces movement known as HAQ was arrested on June 18 with others when NISS and police forces attacked a youth meeting held at HAQ. He was released, but rearrested on June 22.
During the raid on HAQ, some documents, laptops and phones were confiscated.
A source at HAQ said that Bahr hails from Kadugli and mobilizes Nubas and this is why he is being kept longer. Bahr remains in the custody of NISS.
The Social Media Activist
On Friday 22nd of June, Usama Mohamed, an online activist popular on twitter went to the protest on Omak street.
He was arrested by the police along with his brother and many other protestors. They were taken to the Burri police station, but then Mohamed was transferred to the NISS.
We believe this is because a few days prior to his arrest, Mohamed recorded a video for the Stream, a show on Al-Jazeera English, in which he described why he would join the June 30 mass protests in Sudan.
Although Mohamed is not active as a political activist, he is a social media activist and has appeared in many online shows as a Sudan-based commentator.
Last week, Girifna found out that Mohamed was transferred to Kober prison and we are worried that this could mean a long-term detention. Although Mohamed has participated in a number of protests before, this is his first recorded arrest.
Mohamed Hassan Alim known as Boshi was arrested even before the protests escalated in Sudan. On June 20 2012, security officers raided his house in Haj Yousif in Khartoum North and arrested him. His mother tried resisting the arrest with him and was beaten and had to be hospitalized as a result. Boshi was detained at least eight times and during his 45 days detention in February 2011, he told Girifna that he was physically and psychologically tortured.
In December 2011, Boshi became widely known when he was arrested by NISS officers and detained at Kober for about three weeks for confronting a high-ranking official on corruption and injustice in Sudan. His detention caused a public outcry inside and outside Sudan. International pressure was key to sparing him from torture and to his early release.
As of last week, Boshi is in Kober and was reportedly transported to a hospital last week after allegedly getting into a fight with prison guards.
Boshi is affiliated with the Baath party and the Girifna movement. He has a large following on his facebook fan page and began mobilizing for the protests ever since they began.
The Young Politician
Dr. Yasir Fathi Kadouda, a member of one of the largest opposition parties, the UMMA party was arrested on 23 June 2012 by security forces from the UMMA party headquarters in Omdurman. Eye-witnesses said that he was taken along with Al-Ghoni Idris Al-Ghoni from inside the UMMA party.
A source told Girifna that Dr.Kadouda was a mobilizer working with youth. In January 2011, he was arrested from a protest at Nileen University.
Dr.Kadouda is a graduate of School of Medicine at Jazeera University and is in his late 30s.
After his arrest, he was taken to Kober. We are concerned that he would be subjected to long-term detention.
Since their detention, the families of most detainees have been unable to see them or even leave some personal belongings to be given to them by NISS officers.
This week marks two-weeks in detention for a number of detainees such as Usama Mohamed, Rashaida Shams El-Deen, Faisal Shabu, Mohamed Salah among others. We demand that the NISS allows the families of detainees to see them and provide for them all the necessary belongings. On an equal note, Girifna was informed that Ehab Idris who has been in detention since 27 June 2012 after being arrested at a meeting organized by communist party members , has diabetes and his family continues to struggle to convince officers to bring his much-needed medicine.
First and foremost, Girifna demands the immediate release of detainees since they have yet to face charges. However, we uphold the rule of law and in this regard, we demand that they have immediate access to a fair ,civilian and transparent trial and access to lawyers chosen by their families.
During their period of detention, all detainees should have the right to family visits. We also demand reasonable detention facilities in which detainees are offered three meals a day, adequate supply of water and regular access to toilet facilities, in other words, the necessities for a more humane life.
If a detainee is in need of seeing a doctor, the family should be informed so they arrange for a doctor’s visit , however if the detainee acquires any disease during detention, the NISS should cover the doctor and medication expenses.
Finally, we acknowledge that our humble resources have stopped us from following the cases of many detainees, but we will continue adding them to our detainees list and we hope to feature their stories in our next report.