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Excessive use of force directed at students by Sudanese forces in White Nile and Khartoum Bahri

(19 May 2017) In May, the African Centre for Justice and Peace Studies (ACJPS) documented two separate incidents of excessive use of force by Sudanese forces, and in one instance, an affiliated student militia, directed at University students. Police raided a student residence at Bakht Alrida University in White Nile state on 9 May, and the National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS) and a pro-government student militia forcibly dispersed a public forum at Al Azahri University in Khartoum Bahri on 15 May. Three students were injured after they sustained gunshot injuries in White Nile state, and one police officer killed, reportedly after being shot accidentally by his own forces. A criminal case, including murder charges, has been filed against twenty two students arrested during the raid. The students, save for two of the injured students who are still in the hospital, are currently detained at Aldewaim police station in White Nile. One student was arrested from his hospital bed and beaten before taking to the police station. In Khartoum Bahri, a student forum concerning fee waivers for Darfuri students was forcibly dispersed by police and pro-government affiliated student militias. Twenty students were arrested and a criminal case filed against them. The charges were subsequently dropped the following day, 16 May.

ACJPS notes that such attacks are extremely disruptive and raise serious concerns regarding students’ safe access to higher education.

Bakht Alrida University, White Nile state

A students’ residence was attacked on 9 May 2017, just hours after members of the student body demonstrated against a General Assembly meeting for the University’s Student Union aimed at electing a new executive committee. The demonstrations were fuelled by concerns that the elections were not free and fair, and that budgets presented were fraudulent. The Student’s Union is often perceived across Sudan as being solely affiliated with Sudan’s ruling National Congress Party.

Police armed with guns entered the residence at 2pm, after ordering the students to evacuate. During the attack, three students were injured by gunshot wounds. Their names are below.

  1. Mohamed Adam Suleiman, (m), Faculty of Economics. Mr. Suleiman is still in the hospital and was shot in the leg.
  2. Salah Osman, (m), Faculty of Agriculture. Mr. Osman is still in the hospital and was shot in the leg.
  3. Mohamed Omer, (m). Mr. Omer was later arrested from his hospital bed and subsequently beaten with a baton.

A police officer was also killed during the attack, reportedly when he was hit by an accidental gunshot from his own forces. His name is unknown.

Twenty students were arrested and taken to Aldewaim police station, including Mr. Omer, who was arrested from his hospital bed and beaten. A criminal case was filed against them and the two injured students still hospitalised under articles 130 (murder), 139 (punishment for causing injury intentionally), 142 (hurt), 143 (criminal force), 69 (breach of public peace) and 77 (public nuisance) and 21 (complicity to execute a criminal agreement) of the 1991 Sudanese Criminal Act. Article 130 carries the death penalty. Their names are below.

  1. Asim Adam Abaker, male
  2. Fateh Alrahman Adeen, male
  3. Mohamed Adam Suleiman, male. Mr. Suleiman sustained gunshot injuries during the raid.
  4. Salah Adam, male. Mr. Adam sustained gunshot injuries during the raid.
  5. Adam Musa Mohamed, male
  6. Najem Aldeen Adam, male
  7. Moutwaly Hassan, male
  8. Yousif Ahmed Musa, male
  9. Mohamed Omer, male. Mr. Omer sustained gunshot injuries during the raid and was arrested from the hospital.
  10. Kamal Mohamed Adam, male
  11. Almigdad Ali Ebaid, male
  12. Younis Jibril Younis, male
  13. Abdelbagi Fadel Alseed, male
  14. Mahmoud Mohamed Mahmoud, male
  15. Mazin Musa, male
  16. Alnazeer Hussain, male
  17. Abdalla Abaker, male
  18. Nour Aldeen Abubaker, male
  19. Abdel Malek, male
  20. Sharief Hamed, male
  21. Anwar Osman, male
  22. Abdel Hakeem, male

As of 18 May, the group remain detained and await trial at Aldewaim police station. It is not clear whether they have had access to their families and lawyers. ACJPS has serious concerns for their treatment and well-being whilst in police custody, particularly due to the nature of the case and the basis of the charges’ relationship to the death of the police officer.

Al Azahri University, Khartoum Bahri

On 15 May 2017, the National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS) alongside pro-government student militias attacked an assembly organised by the Darfur Student’s Union Alliance at Al Azahri University, preventing a speech on fee waivers for Darfuri students, a condition of the 2006 Abuja Peace Agreement, from taking place.

In recent years, there have been reports that the Government of Sudan has mobilised and provided guns and arms to student militias on campus, an outreach wing known as the GoS’ jihadist unit.

Twenty students were arrested by the NISS and taken to the central police station in Khartoum Bahri, where a case was filed against them under articles 69 (breach of public peace) and 77 (public nuisance) of the 1991 Sudanese Criminal Act. Their names are below.

  1. Aymen Adam Hamad, male
  2. Almagboul Jibril Ahmed, male
  3. Hassan Musa Yahya, male
  4. Mohamed Mohamed Ishag, male
  5. Ahmed Mohamed Adam, male
  6. Hana Ahmed Ali, female
  7. Mawahib Ibrahim Nayir, female
  8. Tajeldeen Bakheet Mohamed, male
  9. Fisal Mohamed Adam, male
  10. Alamdeen Idris Mahdi, male
  11. Abdelrahman Mohamed Harin, male
  12. Yosif Mubarek Yahya, male
  13. Mohamed Ibrahim Musa, male
  14. Mohamed Majboor Teaya, male
  15. Abubaker Hassan Mohamed, male
  16. Mohamed Yosif Abdelrahman, male
  17. Ahmed AbdelKareem Haroon, male
  18. Mohideen Mohamed Adam, male
  19. Mohsin Hamad Ahmed, male
  20. Adam Zakaria Khatir, male

The case was referred to the Central Bahri public order court on 16 May 2017 and dismissed due to lack of evidence.

ACJPS and other rights organisations have frequently documented the excessive use of force against students, particularly Darfuri students, in the violent dispersal of peaceful public forums held on university campuses. In a number of well-documented instances, protests have been supressed and security forces have killed, injured, and subjected individuals to arbitrary detention and torture and ill-treatment. The most recent attacks are emblematic of the climate of violence and intimidation faced by students not affiliated to Sudan’s ruling party, and the total impunity enjoyed by Sudanese forces and pro-NCP student militias operating on university campuses throughout the country.

ACJPS condemns the excessive use of force as a means to restrict the full expression of the rights to the freedom of expression, association, and assembly, all of which are guaranteed by Sudan’s constitution and international and regional human rights commitments. We call on the Government of Sudan to guarantee the physical and mental wellbeing of the twenty two detainees currently in custody at Aldewaim police station, and ensure that they have access to their families and medical treatment and a lawyer of their choosing.

The Government of Sudan must also order an independent and impartial investigation into the death of the police officer by gunshot wounds from his own forces. ACJPS deplores the loss of life and calls on any investigation to be prompt and thorough, with its composition, the paremeters of the investigation, and the findings to be made public, and with a view to providing reparations to the officer’s family.

Background

A 2014 joint report by ACJPS and Amnesty International, Excessive and deadly: The use of force, detention and torture against protesters in Sudan documents allegations of human rights violations committed by security forces against mostly peaceful protesters from 2012 – 2014, and revealed a disturbing pattern of arbitrary arrest and detention, torture and excessive use of force, including the use of live ammunition resulting in scores of deaths and injuries. It also revealed a widespread state of impunity in which those allegedly responsible for these violations are not held to account. The report examined four protests that were violently dispersed by the police, the National Intelligence Security Services (NISS), and other security forces, including country-wide protests in June 2012 and September/October 2013 as well as student demonstrations at Al Jazeera University in December 2012 and the University of Khartoum in March 2014.

Immunities provided in law to government officials, including members of the NISS and the police, have acted as an obstacle to accountability, as they create legal barriers to effective investigations and prosecutions into human rights violations.

University campuses and demonstrations led by students continue to be subjected to some of the most violent and brutal suppression by authorities.

On 22 April 2016, pro-NCP student militia armed with metal bars and pistols, fired shots in the air and violently dispersed students gathered inside the main campus of the University of Kordofan in El Obeid, North Kordofan. The students had gathered to present a list of non-NCP candidates for the Student Union elections. Around 40 students sustained injuries after being beaten with metal bars and were transferred to El Obeid Hospital. One student, Mr. Abu-Bakr Hassan Mohamed Taha, from the School of Engineering, died as a result of gunshot wounds. According to eyewitnesses, members of the police arrived on the scene but did not intervene to protect the students or conduct arrests. To date, there has been no known investigation into the violence on campus or into the killing of Mr. Hassan.

Just a few days later, on 27 April 2016, pro-NCP student militias, armed with pistols and metal bars, attacked a public forum being held by the Nuba Students’ Association on the campus of Omdurman Ahlia University in Khartoum. The students had gathered to discuss protests being held at universities in Khartoum and North Kordofan the same month. One member of the Nuba Students’ Association, Mohamed Alsadig, was shot in the chest and died on the scene from his injuries. Another student was hit over the head with a metal bar. The NISS reportedly arrived on the scene but did not intervene to protect the students, or make any arrests.In January 2017, Amnesty International released a report documenting politically-motivated and sometimes deadly attacks on Darfuri students at universities across the country. One female student reported being subjected to a gang rape by four security officers, which was videotaped, in October 2014. Many students reported that they were targeted for demanding the full implementation of a fee-exemption policy for Darfuri students agreed to by the Sudanese government during peace talks with Darfuri armed groups in 2006 and 2011.

Darfuri student Mohamed Bagari was convicted of murder on 23 June 2016 by the Khartoum Bahri Criminal Court after overturning a previous conviction of “semi-intentional homicide” under article 131 of the 1991 Sudanese Criminal Code, which includes killing in self defence. Mr. Bagari’s lawyers appealed the June 2016 decision, but the case has not been reheard and Mr. Bagari remains in prison. Mr. Bagari was convicted of killing Mr. Mohamed Awad, Secretary-General of the Islamic Students’ Movement at East Nile College, during a fight on the University campus in Khartoum Bahri on 29 April 2015. Around noon on that day, student militias from the Islamic Students’ Movement (the student wing of the Islamic Movement within Sudan’s ruling National Congress Party, the NCP) armed with metal bars, wooden batons and whips, violently broke up a public meeting convened by the Darfur Students’ Association. According to eyewitness accounts, Mohamed Bagari was reportedly surrounded and beaten with metal bars by four armed pro-government student militia members, including Mohamed Awad. Awad was stabbed and later died in hospital. Four members of the Darfur Students’ Association, including Bagari, also sustained serious injuries after being beaten with metal bars, and were admitted to Al Baraha Hospital in Khartoum Bahri overnight. Mr. Bagari confessed to stabbing Awad before a judge on 14 May 2015 during a hearing in which he did not have any legal representation.

ACJPS: Mossaad Mohamed Ali/ Emily Cody: +256 779584542/ +256 788695068 (Kampala), or info@acjps.org.