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Human Rights Defenders Arbitrarily Detained in the Wake of Mass Popular Protests in Sudan

(16 July 2012) The African Centre for Justice and Peace Studies (ACJPS) is seriously concerned about the welfare of eleven human rights defenders who have been detained in the wake of mass popular protests in Sudan.

The following seven human rights defenders were arrested by the Sudanese National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS) between 23 June and 12 July 2012 and remain without charge in NISS custody in Khartoum:

1.    Mohamed Al-Usbat, (m) journalist and activist, arrested at 10.20pm on 12 July from his home in Khartoum.

2.    Nahid Gabralla, (f), women’s rights activist, member of Sima Organisation for Child Rights, arrested on 3 July from the Sima Organisation for Child Rights office, in Khartoum North.

3.    Amira Osman, (f), women’s rights activist, member of “No to Women’s Oppression”, arrested on 22 June together with 5 others during a protest in the Al Riyadh district of Khartoum. All were released after 5 hours but Amira Osman was re-arrested from her home five days later, on 27 June.

4.    Faisal Shabou, (m), women’s rights activist, member of Sima Organisation for Child Rights, arrested on 24 June from the Sima Organisation for Child Rights office in Khartoum North.

5.    Rashida Shams, (f), member of Girifna and member of “No to Women’s Oppression”, arrested on 18 June with 33 other youth activists from the Haag political party’s offices in Khartoum, during a meeting of 8 youth groups. All detainees were subsequently released but two of the activists were re-arrested, including Rashida Shams, who was re-arrested on 23 June.

6.    Tarig El Sheikh, (m), lawyer, member of Darfur Bar Association, arrested on 3 July from his office in Khartoum. He is currently detained by NISS in Kober prison, Khartoum Bahri.

7.    Marwa el Tigany, (f), journalist and human rights defender, arrested on 3 July together with two other women from an internet café in Al Haj Youssef, Khartoum. The three women were witnessed being taken in a security vehicle with the number plate 72091KH2. One of the women, Shima Adil, an Egyptian journalist working for the Egyptian newspaper Al Watan, was released on 16 July.

The following three human rights defenders, working in defence of cultural rights, were arrested on 26 June by NISS from their homes in Al Gadarif, Eastern Sudan and remain in detention without charge:

8.    Al Said Mustafa, (m), Chairperson of Al Shiroog Cultural Forum.

9.    Ramzi Yahia, (m), lawyer, affiliate of Al Shiroog Cultural Forum, arrested with 6 other individuals on 23 June. All have subsequently been released but Ramzi Yahia was re-arrested on 26 June.

10.  Abdulgadir Mahmoud, (m), affiliate of Al Shiroog Cultural Forum, arrested on 26 June.

The following human rights defender was arrested in Khartoum by NISS on 3 July but has subsequently been transferred to police custody and is at risk of an unfair trial:

11. Radwan Daoud, (m), member of Girifna, arrested on 3 July with 14 other individuals, including his brother and father.

Mr. Daoud and the 14 other detainees have been charged under Articles 63 (calling for opposition to public authority by use of violence or criminal force) 65 (criminal and terrorist organisations), 67 (rioting), 69 (disturbance of public peace), 71 (polluting the environment) and 72 (exposing ways and means of transport and communication to danger) of the Sudanese Penal Code 1991. They have all been refused bail. ACJPS is concerned that these charges do not reflect the peaceful protests and activities that Radwan Daoud and those arrested with him have reportedly engaged in, giving rise to concerns that the charges are politically motivated and that the detainees will not face a fair trial.

Although information on the conditions of their detention is not available, ACJPS has serious concerns for the welfare of all the detainees. One female human rights defender (name withheld), who was arrested by NISS during a demonstration held on 13 July after Friday prayers in Wad Nubawi (Omdurman) and released at 1am the following day, was reportedly lined up alongside other detainees with her face against the wall and beaten on her back.

ACJPS urges the Government of Sudan to put an end to the harassment of human rights defenders and enable the continuance of their work in defence of human rights. We call on the Government of Sudan to guarantee the physical and psychological integrity of all detainees and to order their immediate release in the absence of valid legal charges that are consistent with international law and standards or, if such charges exist, to bring them before an impartial, independent and competent tribunal and guarantee their procedural rights at all times.

Background

The arrest of human rights defenders has taken place in the context of a wave of arbitrary arrests and detentions across Sudan, in response to popular mass protests calling for regime change, peace and justice.

The protests that have been staged throughout Sudan over recent weeks followed an initial protest held on 16 June at Khartoum University in response to government austerity measures, inflation and price increases. Within days, the protests had spread to dozens of other locations within Khartoum and throughout the country including Omdurman, Madani, Sinnar, Al Gadarif, Port Sudan, Al Obeid, Kassala and Hasaheisa. The popular message has transformed from one of concern for government austerity measures to calls for regime change. A wide cross-section of Sudanese civil society has taken to the streets including members of the Democratic Lawyers Front, students, youth movements, doctors, journalists and women’s rights activists.

ACJPS has documented the arrest and detention of over 290 individuals since the first protest held in Khartoum on 16 June. This includes at least 37 other human rights defenders who have subsequently been released. Activists report that the actual number of individuals arrested and detained in the context of the protests throughout Sudan since that date has exceeded 1,500.

This post is also available in: Arabic